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Kane warming up to Blackhawks' offseason moves

Right wing confident trades, free agent signings will lead to better showing in playoffs

by Brian Hedger / NHL.com Correspondent

GENEVA, Ill. -- Right wing Patrick Kane is growing more comfortable with the moves the Chicago Blackhawks made this offseason.

Chicago parted with almost half its roster, including Kane's former linemate, Artemi Panarin, and acquired 11 players in trades and free agency. Headlining the list are two familiar faces, forwards Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp.

Have all the moves improved the Blackhawks since they were swept by the Nashville Predators in the Western Conference First Round last season?

"It's tough to say," Kane said at the inaugural Chicago Hockey Charity Classic at Fox Valley Ice Arena on Saturday. "I think time will tell, obviously, but I'd like to think on paper we're a better team."

Panarin was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets on June 23 for Saad. It was completed just hours before the 2017 NHL Draft at United Center, and followed a trade earlier that day that sent defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to the Arizona Coyotes for defenseman Connor Murphy and center Laurent Dauphin.

 

[RELATED: Kane 'disappointed' by Blackhawks trade of Panarin | Blackhawks make changes after first-round exit from playoffs]

 

During the Blackhawks fan convention in July, Kane said he initially wasn't pleased with Chicago trading Panarin, whom he'd developed good chemistry with on and off the ice. His feelings are beginning to change now.

"If you look at our season last year, I mean, we had a pretty good season," Kane said. "We just kind of collapsed there at the end. Disappointing finish, but when that happens, you know there's going to be changes. You can't really ask for much more from a management standpoint, as far as asking for them to make moves to help us win. They did that."

It didn't work, so the Blackhawks will try again with a significantly different look.

They also traded goalie Scott Darling to the Carolina Hurricanes, Marcus Kruger to the Vegas Golden Knights and lost defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk to Vegas in the NHL Expansion Draft.

Veteran right wing Marian Hossa will also miss this season with a progressive skin disorder, and veteran defensemen Brian Campbell and Johnny Oduya were not offered new contracts.

It's a lot of turnover for a team that finished first in the Western Conference with 109 points, but Kane said it's understandable considering how Chicago's season ended in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Blackhawks' leading scorer is now focusing on the future, which he thinks is bright.

"Obviously, there's some faces that have been here for a long time, and some faces you didn't want to see go, that are maybe kind of the cause of some of those moves, but it's disappointing [to see them go]," Kane said. "At the same time, we've got some guys coming back in, like [Sharp] and Saad, [and] they're pretty high on this Murphy kid, as well. We have guys that are going to come in. It looks great on paper, but we need to go on the ice and do it."

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