When the Boston Bruins snapped the Chicago Blackhawks’ winning streak at seven games last night, it brought to light how little the run actually meant in the bigger picture. The Blackhawks have certainly improved in the second half, but are still on the outside looking in by a substantial margin. Even after stockpiling points over the last few weeks, Chicago is currently 12th in the Western Conference and virtually tied with the Edmonton Oilers in points percentage, who trail by two points but have two games in hand. The Blackhawks are four points behind the Minnesota Wild in for the final wild card spot and would have to leapfrog three more teams to get there, two of which hold games in hand, too. The upcoming schedule for the ’Hawks is light; it features five home contests and six non-playoff teams out of eight games. However, the schedule is not as easy the rest of the way. If management takes another small stretch of success before the deadline to mean that the team should not be sellers this season, it could be a mistake. Given that Chicago’s top rentals are not imperative to winning anyway – Marcus Kruger, Chris Kunitz, Andreas Martinsen, Cam Ward – the best and most likely course of action will be for the Blackhawks to entertain all trade offers over the remaining days before the deadline and not engage in any buyer talk.
- The Blackhawks announced today that center David Kampf has been placed on injured reserve. Although the placement is retroactive to February 5th, do not expect Kampf back soon. NBC Sports Chicago’s Charlie Roumeliotis notes that the timeline to return is three to four weeks, making a reappearance by Kampf before the end of the month unlikely. Kampf has 16 points in 50 games for the Blackhawks this season and has been a solid bottom-six forward for the team in his second year since making the jump from Europe.
- The silver lining to Kampf’s injury, as Roumeliotis points out, is that it opens up a roster spot for goaltender Corey Crawford to potentially make his return. Crawford has reportedly been getting close to game readiness and after missing the past two months while battling concussion symptoms. If Crawford is able to return and at least show that he is capable of splitting time with rookie Collin Delia, that would give the Blackhawks even further encouragement to peddle veteran backup Ward before the deadline rather than carry three goalies.
- Luc Snuggerud worked quickly to find a new team after his contract was terminated by the Blackhawks on Monday. The young defenseman has signed with a rather obscure club, the Stavanger Oilers in Norway. The team announced a contract for the remainder of the season with Snuggerud. While hockey is growing in Norway, the national pro league is not considered to be among the elite in Europe. In fact, on the entire Oilers roster, including eight North American skaters, only Greg Mauldin has any NHL experience. As such, Snuggerud is expected to step in and make an immediate impact for Stavanger, which is what he was unable to do in the Blackhawks organization.