Chicago Blackhawks Team Report
By Neil Becker
It’s been a busy off-season for the Chicago Blackhawks who stepped up their rebuilding program by acquiring some household names.
Looking to make a statement, prior to the July NHL entry draft, the Chicago Blackhawks pulled off a major blockbuster trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets which landed them 26 year old defenceman Seth Jones.
This former 2013 fourth overall draft pick of the Nashville Predators, played 56 games with Columbus last year where he scored five goals and 28 points.
Jones, who is an elite skater and excels on the power play, was traded in his third season to Columbus where he spent the past five and a half seasons.
Heading into the final year of a lucrative six-year $32.4 million dollar contract signed in 2016, Columbus traded him to Chicago for defenceman Adam Boqvist, along with Chicago’s first-round (12th overall) and a second-round pick (44th overall) in this year’s draft. Also going to Columbus were Chicago’s 2022 or 2023 first-round pick.
In his career, Jones has played 580 games while producing 65 goals along with 286 points.
He will be taking the spot which belonged to veteran Blackhawk defenceman Duncan Keith who after 14 seasons in the Windy City was traded this off-season to the Edmonton Oilers.
Another big name coming to Chicago is a future hall of fame goalie Marc- Andre Fleury. This 36 year old, who went 26-10 last year with a 1.98 GAA, won the Vezina Trophy last year and puts the Blackhawks in a win-now situation. Meanwhile, going to Vegas in the swap was young up and coming forward Mikael Hakkarainen.
Blackhawks fans got some great news when in late June, captain Jonathan Toews announced that he will be back this year. Last year, Toews missed the entire season due to an unknown ailment. In his career, Toews has played 943 games and scored 345 goals along with 815 points.
Among the off-season additions was Seth Jones brother, Caleb Jones, who is a young defenceman that came over from the Oilers in the multi-player Keith deal. Last year, the 24 year old had four assists in 33 games.
Looking to add some toughness, on July 28th, Chicago signed hard-hitting unrestricted free-agent defenceman Jake McCabe to a four-year $16 million contract. This long-time Buffalo Sabre, played 13 games last year with Buffalo where he scored a goal and three points.
In adding some toughness upfront, the Blackhawks acquired former Edmonton Oilers veteran Jujhar Khaira to a two-year $1.95 million dollar deal. He played 40 games last year where he totaled 11 points.
Last month, Chicago traded the contract of defenceman Brent Seabrook to the Stanley Cup champions Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for a 2023 second-round draft pick and center Tyler Johnson who scored 22 points last year and is a two-time Stanley Cup champion.
Players not returning to Chicago include defenceman Nikita Zadorov whose rights were traded to the Calgary Flames along with center David Kampf who signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Also not returning to Chicago is forward Vinnie Hinostroza who signed a one-year $1.05 million dollar deal with the Sabres.
No question, it will be an entertaining season for Blackhawk fans who have high aspirations for their team.