Here we are, in the week just ahead of the NHL trade deadline that’s set for Monday, Mar. 21. The Chicago Blackhawks will be sellers once again this season, and we will know much more about who will be traded and who will stay in the coming days. In the meantime, there’s no shortage of recent news and rumors to talk about. Let’s hit on some of the biggest topics currently surrounding the team.
Defenseman Connor Murphy was involved in a very scary collision when the Ottawa Senators hosted the Blackhawks on Saturday night. In just his second shift of the game, Murphy was shoved into the glass by the Senators’ Parker Kelly. Murphy immediately fell to the ice and lay motionless. You could tell right away by the way his body crumpled that this was a serious matter.
It was a tense several minutes while the medical staff tended to Murphy, and he was eventually taken off the ice on a stretcher. Kelly was given a major boarding penalty and a game misconduct for the hit, but it was the Senators who scored short-handed on the Blackhawks’ ensuing five-minute power play. The crowd almost didn’t even react, and it was obvious the fans and the Blackhawks were still in shock about what they had just witnessed.
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It turns out the Blackhawks regrouped and shook it off as best they could after the first period. They ended up roaring their way back from a 2-0 deficit to an eventual 6-3 win. Blackhawks’ defenseman Caleb Jones, who by the way tallied twice in the victory, gave some insight into how Murphy’s collision affected the locker room.
Caleb Jones: "We had to get our feet under us the rest of the 1st. We came out in the 2nd and said, 'Let's win this one for Murph.' We stuck together as a team."— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) March 13, 2022
The Blackhawks won one for Murph. But the even better news is that Murphy traveled back to Chicago with the team and was at the Fifth Third Arena on Monday during practice. He is currently in concussion protocol, so no updates on when he will return to the lineup. But hopefully the situation isn’t as serious as was originally feared.
Johnson’s Bad Luck
Speaking of injuries, Blackhawks’ forward Tyler Johnson also left Saturday’s game at the end of the first period. Unfortunately, Johnson was struck in the ear by a puck from fellow linemate Dominik Kubalik.
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You have to feel bad for Johnson. He just returned to the lineup on Mar. 3 after missing most of the season due to neck surgery. He’s only suited up for 14 games altogether, contributing one goal and two assists. The 31-year-old veteran won two Stanley Cups with the Tampa Bay Lightning, but was pushed into a lesser role as younger, up-and-coming players moved into their lineup. He was hoping for a fresh start in Chicago, and the opportunity to be a bigger contributor.
But Johnson hasn’t been able to establish himself because of so much time away. With respect to this savvy veteran, the Blackhawks could be in a different position in the standings if he had remained healthy. I’m not saying Johnson alone would have elevated the Blackhawks into a playoff spot. But his experience and talent could have rounded out the lineup quite nicely.
Now Johnson is also in concussion protocol, but like Murphy, he was at the practice facility on Monday. Hopefully he can return to the ice sooner rather than later, and finish out the season on a high note.
Kane Earns Star of the Week
Patrick Kane earned the First Star of the Week honor last week after scoring 10 points in the last three games. It all started against the Anaheim Ducks Tuesday night when the Blackhawks ran away with an 8-3 victory. Kane had a career-best six-point game. He contributed one goal and five assists, all of which were primary assists.
Congrats to Showtime on being named the @NHL’s First ⭐️ of the Week! 🎬 pic.twitter.com/15CEmsv91w— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) March 14, 2022
In the Boston Bruins’ game on Thursday, Kane again provided the primary helper on Alex DeBrincat’s goal in the first period. He added three more assists against the Senators. This gave him 1156 career points, and moved him past Bobby Hull (1153 points) for second place in Blackhawks’ franchise history.
These franchise records are important to Kane and his legacy in Chicago. Which is why I don’t think he will choose to waive his no-movement clause at the trade deadline or in the offseason. I personally believe Kaner will be a Blackhawk for life.
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Showtime, as Kane is affectionately called in Chicago, is also currently on a six-game point streak in the month of March, with three goals and 12 assists. Can he keep it going this week? I wouldn’t bet against him.
Fleury Trade News
Finally, we know Marc-Andre Fleury could be the Blackhawks’ biggest trade chip for the Blackhawks this coming week. Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun recently weighed in on his thoughts about a Fleury transaction.
What I think an asking price would look like from Chicago in a Fleury trade: 1st RD pick (or 1st RD level prospect) and maybe a mid-round pick. The second pick likely depends on whether the Hawks need to take back a contract and how bad that contract is.— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) March 14, 2022
But key is: 1st RD pick.
If the Blackhawks can get a first-round pick for Fleury that would be golden! The only problem is Fleury has a no-trade clause that allows him to pick 10 teams he would like to move to. He also has an unwritten agreement with Blackhawks’ management that they will only move him if that is his wish. Fleury has stated that “if” he were to be traded, he would want to go to a Cup-contending team.
I guess we’ll know soon enough the fate of Fleury, and the fate of the Blackhawks regarding any return for the future Hall of Fame netminder. It would certainly behoove the Blackhawks’ rebuild for them to move Fleury. This would be a business transaction, after all.
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But there is also the personal side of respecting the wishes of a man and his family. Either way, it’s a sticky situation.
That will do it for this edition of Blackhawks News and Rumors! Keep it right here at The Hockey Writers for all the latest news, game analysis, and trade updates as this busy week unfolds.