By Chris Emma-
CHICAGO (CBS) — Antoine Vermette will wear No. 80 on his Blackhawks sweater, attempting to change things up.READ MORE: Red Cross Day Of Giving: Here's How You Can Help!
If the Blackhawks’ new forward fits in, then general manager Stan Bowman’s high-risk, high-reward move will have surely paid dividends.
“It means a lot,” Vermette said of his opportunity in Chicago. “I’m very happy, very excited. I’m happy about that. This is an honor, this is a great organization. I’m very proud to be part of this right now. I look forward for a successful couple months here.”
Chicago made the move to acquire Vermette from Arizona on Saturday evening, about 40 hours before the trade deadline, giving up a first-round pick in 2015 and defenseman Klas Dalhbeck. The 32-year-old Vermette centered the Blackhawks’ second line at Monday’s morning skate, along with Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad.
Vermette’s addition came less than 24 hours after the Blackhawks acquired 39-year-old defenseman Kimmo Timonen from the Flyers, giving up a second-round pick in 2015 and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2016.
Both newcomers are expected to play on Monday against the Carolina Hurricanes.
“It’ll take a couple games to get used to our system,” Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell said. “Coming from a different team, it’s going to be hard. We’ll help them in any way.”
Adding Vermette didn’t come as much of a surprise. With Patrick Kane out for an estimated 12 weeks after surgery to repair a broken clavicle, the Blackhawks needed a scoring punch. Vermette led the Coyotes with 35 points, though that ranks sixth on the Blackhawks.
Of course, the biggest difference for Vermette will be going from the bottom of the Western Conference to the heat of the playoff hunt.
“This is a great team,” Vermette said. “They expect a lot of themselves, as they should — we should.”READ MORE: Chicago's Winter Overnight Parking Ban Begins Wednesday Morning At 3 A.M.
Timonen joining the Blackhawks raised a few eyebrows. The four-time NHL All-Star has yet to play this season due to blood clots in his right leg and lungs. The Flyers gave Timonen his choice on where to be traded, and he picked Chicago for a good reason.
“The only thing I’m missing in my hockey career is a Stanley Cup,” Timonen said.
The Blackhawks found themselves in need of help on the blue line, with their depth in defensemen lacking this season.
Coach Joel Quenneville is thrilled with the acquisition of a reliable veteran.
“We’re happy to have him,” Quenneville said. “He’s going to play. Kimmo gives us some experience, a defenseman that’s very dependable.”
It’s likely that Timonen joins Niklas Hjalmarsson in a defensive pairing, allowing Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook to work together.
With Vermette taking the Blackhawks’ second line, Brad Richards slides down to the third grouping and Marcus Kruger rounds out the final line, though Monday’s acquisition of the Sharks’ Andrew Desjardins — dealt in exchange for Ben Smith — adds another center to the mix.
Chicago has been aggressive in ensuring its position for a Stanley Cup pursuit.
“They want to win every year,” Bickell said of the Blackhawks’ management. “Seeing these guys come in, they’re going to fall in right. It’s going to help our team game.”MORE NEWS: Jussie Smollett Trial: Testimony Expected To Begin Tuesday
Follow Chris on Twitter @CEmma670.