The skill-set has been in plain sight for awhile. Patrick Kane’s such a great stickhandler with the hockey equivalent of point-guard moves that a classic playmaking center might not be the best fit on his line.
The NBC Sports Network announcing crew was the latest to make this observation Sunday night during Kane’s fourth homecoming in Buffalo, where he scored the first goal and was the dominating player in the game. Part of the analysis was Kane’s regular center, Michael Handzus, could concentrate on the grittier aspects of the game.
In turn, Handzus said the niftiest part of linework with Kane is sometimes literally out of his hands. He rated the 25-year-old winger one of the best passers he’s seen in his 15-year career.
“He’s Top Three, for sure,” Handzus said. “He’s going to be awesome for a long time.
“You got to be ready where he is. Not a lot of guys can do that. He likes to take the puck back. He likes to be all over the ice. You just got to fill the lane where he goes.”
Kane even has been shifted to second-line center, but management found he was best left outside.
“You guys have said I’ve played with a bunch of different centers,” Kane said, when asked about adjusting to new linemates. “I’ve probably played with the same two or three. You’re used to playing with the same player (Handzus) is very good defensively. He’s responsible. He makes it easy to play up there. Playing with him, I feel we can produce a little bit more, which both of us expect to do.”
Hawks got their man in Rundblad: Defenseman David Rundblad, the last player the Hawks acquired before Wednesday’s trade deadline, has been in general manager Stan Bowman’s sights for a long time.
“David’s a player we actually tried to acquire for awhile,” Bowman said. “We spoke a year ago around the same time with Phoenix. They weren’t in a position where they wanted to move him. We spoke again over the summertime, and the timing just didn’t work for them.
“Finally, the other day, it came up and they were in position where they were ready to make a move. He’s a really talented player. David’s got excellent skills, offensive skills. Sometimes a change of scenery can help a player like him.”
Youth is still on Rundblad’s side at 23, Bowman said.
“Fitting in with a group that we have here, I think he still has a lot of potential,” he said. “With our style of play, we like to have the puck a lot, we hold on to it and make plays, that’s really what he does best. There’s areas he can improve, but you can say that about every young player.”
Rundblad made his Hawks debut Sunday in Buffalo. He gives coach Joel Quenneville eight experienced defensemen.
Fournier in the fold: The Hawks on Monday agreed to terms on a three-year contract with defenseman Dillon Fournier, the team’s second-round pick (48th overall) in the 2012 NHL amateur draft.
Fournier, 19, has tallied 32 points (13goals, 19 assists) in 36 games with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The Montreal native has registered 108 points (31g, 77a) in 207 career Quebec league games with Lewiston and Rouyn-Noranda from 2010 to 2013, and was named to the Canadian Hockey League Top Prospects Game following the 2011-12 campaign.