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Blackhawks trade Malcolm Subban to Sabres, freeing up goalie logjam

Subban had been stuck in the AHL this season but will be able to stick in the NHL with Buffalo.

Malcolm Subban’s time in the Blackhawks organization ended Thursday.
AP Photos

WASHINGTON — Interim general manager Kyle Davidson has made it a priority to give players the Blackhawks aren’t using fresh opportunities elsewhere.

Davidson did so earlier this week with Adam Gaudette, putting him on waivers after weeks of healthy scratches. Gaudette was claimed by the rebuilding Senators and scored in his debut Wednesday.

And Davidson did it again Thursday, sending goalie Malcolm Subban to the even-more-rebuilding Sabres for future considerations — his first official trade as GM.

The move gets Subban back in the NHL. He had been stuck with Rockford in the AHL till now this season. He was 2-2-1 with an .893 save percentage with the IceHogs after going 6-8-1 with a .900 save percentage in 16 appearances with the Hawks last season.

“Malcolm has been fantastic,” IceHogs interim coach Anders Sorensen said in November. “He’s been really good in the locker room.”

The Sabres needed a new backup to Dustin Tokarski with Craig Anderson injured and Aaron Dell struggling mightily.

The Hawks, meanwhile, received no tangible return but freed up their Rockford goalie logjam to let prospect Arvid Soderblom and veteran Collin Delia split the starts in normal fashion. Soderblom, 22, sports a .917 save percentage through his first eight career AHL starts, and the team is intrigued about his potential.

Seabrook steps into coaching

Brent Seabrook has landed his first post-playing-career job as an assistant coach — albeit as a volunteer and only on an interim basis — for the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League, a top Canadian junior league.

The former Hawks defenseman, who unofficially retired in March but is still technically under contract with the Lightning through 2024, debuted behind the bench Wednesday during the Giants’ 5-3 victory against the Kelowna Rockets.

Seabrook said in a statement that he was thankful to Giants and Lightning management for “allowing me this opportunity to give back to the game.”

Dach working on faceoffs

Kirby Dach has been excellent this season, for the most part. But he’s still having problems with his finishing, and he’s struggling even more with faceoffs.

The third-year center has won only 65 of his 211 faceoffs entering Thursday.

Among 178 players who had taken 50 or more faceoffs, Dach’s 30.8% winning percentage ranked last. Among the 135 players who had taken 100 or more, it ranked last by almost five percentage points.

Those poor numbers aren’t due to a lack of effort, though. Dach works on his draws after every practice and morning skate. He received some advice about it from player development coach Yanic Perreault before this road trip.

And the coaching staff has continued giving him opportunities: Dach with his 211 and Jonathan Toews with 414 (and a 57.5% winning percentage) were the only Hawks centers who had taken more than 70 faceoffs.

“It just takes time,” Dach said. “I’m a young guy. I’m only 20 years old, taking faceoffs against 30-year-old men that have been playing this game a lot longer than I have. Technique-wise, there are things I can clean up. But it’s just a learning curve. [I’ll] go through it and hopefully come out better at the end.”

“He just has to get better and better as he goes,” interim coach Derek King said. “Usually a lot of your top centermen have been around; they’ve aged. . . . He’s just a young kid that’s going to have to learn the craft. He’ll get better as the years go, and we’ll just keep working with him.”