OTTAWA, Ontario — Alex DeBrincat knows Patrick Kane very well. And the Senators forward doesn’t need to navigate politics and choose words carefully quite like the Blackhawks forward currently does.
So DeBrincat’s comments Thursday about Kane’s situation, while everyone waits for the latter to officially decide if and then where he’s willing to be traded, were both insightful and eye-opening.
“All things considered, it’s been tough for him,” DeBrincat said. “A lot of his buddies got moved out last year, and he has been going through a little bit of the injury stuff.
“I can’t say he probably wants to be in a rebuild right now — you guys can ask him that — but he’s so competitive. Being with him for so long, he’s a guy that wants to win every night. … [I’m] excited to see if he can find a new home and get comfortable there. That’s exciting for everyone in the league to watch.”
Although the Rangers pivoted away, teams like the Stars and Golden Knights still make sense in terms of need, suitability and assets to swing a trade. The Maple Leafs, as they often do, are also swiftly entering the ‘Kane-versation.’
Vegas loves splashy acquisitions and boasts plentiful short-term salary-cap space with captain Mark Stone ($9.5 million) on long-term injured reserve. Dallas has been looking for a scoring winger to place next to second-line center Tyler Seguin. Toronto wants an ‘X’-factor to put them over the top in their inevitable first-round matchup against the Lightning.
Kane entered Friday with zero points in his last four games, suggesting the decision might be heavily weighing on him, but he insisted otherwise.
“Maybe subconsciously, but I don’t think it’s anything I think about on the ice,” he said. “[I’m] trying to play well and [not] really think about that other stuff.”
Hawks captain Jonathan Toews has recovered from his illness enough to get back on the ice the last few days in Chicago, skating alongside injured goalie Alex Stalock. Friday nonetheless marked his sixth consecutive game missed.
“That’s the first step in the progression,” Hawks coach Luke Richardson said. “We’ll get home and we’ll have a chance to talk to him face-to-face [Saturday] and see how he’s feeling.”
Shortly after an injury-laden loss to the Canadiens on Tuesday, the Blackhawks called Rockford forward Cole Guttman and informed him he’d be called up Wednesday.
Guttman, in turn, called his parents out in Encino, California, to inform them — and they acted quickly.
“I wasn’t sure if I was playing, but they just took the chance and hopped on the next flight 30 minutes later [to Toronto],” he said. “It was really nice of them.”
He indeed replaced MacKenzie Entwistle (wrist injury) in the Hawks’ lineup against the Leafs while his parents — fresh off their red-eye flight — and his brother watched at Scotiabank Arena.
Centering the second line between Tyler Johnson and Taylor Raddysh during five-on-five play — but not yet receiving special-teams duties — Guttman logged 12:09 of ice time. He remained in that role for his second game Friday against the Senators.
He’s more than just a short-term fill-in, too. The Hawks thoroughly believe the scrappy 23-year-old rookie out of the University of Denver has an NHL future. Richardson called him a “smart player” who can handle “pretty much any situation,” and the coach may see a lot more of him moving forward.
Guttman’s intelligence, adaptability, versatility and net-driving willingness have all stood out this season in Rockford, where he has tallied 30 points in 39 games.