Blackhawks make trade splashes; face Carolina tonight

Heading into tonight's game versus the Carolina Hurricanes (24-30-7/55 pts/8th in Eastern wild card race), the Blackhawks (37-21-5/3rd in Central) are suddenly bolstered by a lot of new arrivals - and one familiar face sent out of town.

In trades leading up to today's trade deadline, the Blackhawks acquired veteran defenseman Kimmo Timonen from the Flyers, center Antoine Vermette from the Coyotes, and forward Andrew Desjardins from the Sharks. The Blackhawks sent defense prospect Klas Dahlbeck to Arizona, and Ben Smith to San Jose, and picks to all three teams they traded with.

Ben Smith was popular in the locker room and respected among the fans. He played a solid part of the Blackhawks penalty kill and checking lines, so other players will be expected to step up in those responsibilities.

Timonen, returning to hockey after spending the season sidelined after blood clots were found in his legs and lungs, is hoping to earn a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks. He has had a long career in the NHL and has previously announced plans to retire after this season. Timonen skated with Brent Seabrook in yesterday's team practice.

Vermette bolsters Chicago's depth down the center, and his skills will help some of the team's wingers (namely, Shaw) move to their natural positions, where they're more effective. Desjardins is a gritty forward, expected to slot in on the 4th line.

What these players bring to the Blackhawks lineup is not only their on-ice skills, but their determination to do what Chicago has done: win a Cup. This is especially true for Timonen, who was Drafted to the NHL in June 1993 and has played in the NHL since 1998. His new teammate and fellow Finn, Teuvo Teravainen, was born in September 1994. Timonen has represented his country in multiple Winter Olympics and World Championships, never earning higher than silver. But if he earned silver this summer, with the Blackhawks, it would be the pinnacle of a career studded with All-Star appearances.

Teravainen picked Timonen up at the airport on Saturday night, according to Finnish journalist Juha Hiitelä. Hiitelä noted that it was the first time the two Finns had met, and Timonen joked that "Teuvo is my driver now."

The Hurricanes have gone 6-4-0 in their past 10 games, a positive late-season surge, but they still sit well out of a playoff berth and have little chance to make the playoffs. Carolina leads the league on the PK and is in the top 10 for the PP, but they struggle to score and are in the middle of the pack for goals against/game. It is the first time the two teams will play against each other this season.

Carolina's leading scorers has been one of their younger defensemen, Justin Faulk, 22, with 12 goals and 28th assists.

With just a couple weeks and 19 games left in their season, the Blackhawks have a lot to prove to themselves before April 11th with Patrick Kane recovering from surgery for a broken clavicle. The team enjoyed a win versus Florida on Thursday, then were shut out by the Lightning on Friday.

Corey Crawford will start for the Blackhawks, and Cam Ward is expected to be in net for the Hurricanes.



The puck drops at 7:30pm Central on CSN-Chicago tonight.