With the NHL’s trade deadline looming, much of the interest and intrigue around the league has been focused on stars — like, say, Patrick Kane or Timo Meier — who may or may not be on their current teams after March 3rd.
But there’s still hockey to be played at the SAP Center in San Jose on Saturday evening between the Chicago Blackhawks and the San Jose Sharks, regardless of who suits up for either team.
With a record of 18-30-11 (47 points), the Sharks find themselves in seventh place among the either teams in the Pacific Division. There is heavy speculation that San Jose could move standout forward Timo Meier on or before the upcoming March 3 trade deadline. Meier currently joins Jonah Gadjovich, Luke Kunin and Markus Nutivaara on the injured list for the Sharks, sidelined with an upper-body injury suffered on Monday. However, he could be a useful player come playoff time for any team looking to make a deep run.
San Jose also has Erik Karlsson leading the team with a crazy 76 points (18 G, 58 A) from the blue line, although the 32-year-old will be tough to move at the deadline due to his contract running through the 2026-27 season at $11.5 million AAV. The other top scorers, behind Karlsson and Meier, are forwards Logan Couture (48 points in 59 games) and Tomas Hertl (48 in 56). But that’s about it for the primary scoring threats from San Jose.
On the other side of the bench, it’s no surprise that rumors continue to surface about Patrick Kane being traded from Chicago, to a team who will be in the playoffs — primarily, the New York Rangers. Kane is not having the best seasons of his career by any stretch of the imagination. Yet, the 34-year-old winger has been putting on a show as of late. In his last four outings, Kane has accumulated a staggering 10 points (7 G, 3 A), including a hat trick and an assist against the Toronto Maple Leafs last Sunday.
There will surely be focus on Kane’s performance against San Jose on Saturday evening. Aside from the currently storyline featuring No. 88, the Blackhawks are missing a good chunk of their team due to various injuries. Currently, they remain without MacKenzie Entwistle, Reese Johnson, Jujhar Khaira, Alex Stalock, Jarred Tinordi and Jonathan Toews.
Those absences led to the signing of forward David Gust, an Orland Park native who’s been playing with the IceHogs all season. The 29-year-old forward grew up a Hawks fan and was even in the building the last time Chicago won the Stanley Cup:
David Gust said he grew up a #Blackhawks fan and was actually at the United Center for the 2015 Stanley Cup clincher against Tampa Bay.— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) February 24, 2023
Gust could slot into the lineup for this game, although that won’t be known until Saturday’s morning skate.
There’s been a good amount of consistency this season when the Hawks have played the Sharks — primarily the fact that neither team has been very good. However, the Blackhawks have played some pretty solid hockey as of late, making it a lot easier on the eyes when they’re not playing basement-level hockey. Saturday’s game could be a lot of things: a media circus, an end to an era or another anchor to weigh the team down to the cellar.
If nothing else, hopefully Saturday’s game is an entertaining, 60-minute effort.
Tale of the Tape
Blackhawks — Statistic — Sharks
43.03% (32nd) — Corsi For — 49.01% (22nd)
40.85% (31st) — Expected goals for — 52.73% (10th)
2.47 (32nd) — Goals per game — 2.97 (22nd)
3.58 (26th) — Goals against per game — 3.63 (27th)
55.0% (1st) — Faceoffs — 50% (17th)
17.0% (27th) — Power play — 18.8% (25th)
76.2% (22nd) — Penalty kill — 83.2% (4th)
How to watch
When: 9:00 p.m. CT
Where: SAP Center, San Jose
TV: NBC Sports Chicago