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Chicago Blackhawks trade Anthony Beauvillier to the Nashville Predators, plus 5 things we learned after practice

Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/TNS

Anthony Beauvillier never really got on track with the Chicago Blackhawks, and now he won’t get the chance.

The Hawks traded the forward Thursday to the Nashville Predators for a fifth-round draft pick. They had acquired Beauvillier in November from the Vancouver Canucks for a conditional fifth-rounder.

“It’s got to be hard on him — three teams in a season,” center Jason Dickinson said. “It’s going to be a lot for him to handle.”

Added left wing Nick Foligno: “For a guy that came in on a short time, he really made his impact on the group. He’s a great guy, great player, and I think he was just trying to find his game.”

It has been a bumpy ride for Beauvillier since late last season.

The New York Islanders traded him to the Canucks, and after 22 games this fall with two goals and six assists, the Canucks dealt him to the Hawks, who brought him in after Taylor Hall and Andreas Athanasiou were sidelined with injuries.

“He was a great guy to bring in right away,” Dickinson said of Beauvillier. “His attitude, his energy blended very well with us.”

But during the Hawks’ late December trip, several forwards suffered injuries — including Beauvillier, who missed 18 games with a left wrist issue. Once he returned, he played only eight more games in a Hawks uniform.

He had two goals and four assists in 23 games in Chicago.

“His last game might have been one of his best,” coach Luke Richardson said. “He was really skating, kind of finding his legs again after his injury.”

Said Dickinson: “It’s unfortunate he got hurt. He couldn’t really get his feet going as much as he might like. … If there’s an opportunity for him to come back in free agency maybe, that would be fantastic. If he finds a home somewhere else, I just hope it ends up best for him.”

Beauvillier walks into an advantageous situation with the Predators, who hold a fairly comfortable lead for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

“That’s good for (Beauvillier) to go and have an opportunity to play in the playoffs,” said Richardson, who was an Islanders assistant under Doug Weight during Beauvillier’s stint in New York. “It’s an opportunity for him. Sorry to see him go. He’s a good guy and fit in well.”

Here are five things we learned after practice Thursday.

1. The Hawks expect a quiet trade-deadline day.

They might make a trade or two before Friday’s 2 p.m. deadline but nothing like the blockbusters of the recent past such as Patrick Kane, Max Domi and Brandon Hagel.

“I don’t know if there’s going to be a lot of movement,” Richardson said. “We don’t have a lot of players in that situation, not as much as we did last year. There are a few guys, Tyler (Johnson), (Colin) Blackwell.”

The Hawks are projected to have $47 million in cap space at the deadline if they want to .take on a contract, but it’s what they could get in return that’s the sticking point.

“It’s been the same teams for so many years at the top, like Boston, Toronto, Tampa Bay, they don’t have a lot of assets to give up,” Richardson said. “They don’t have picks. They don’t have a lot of players in the minors. It’s hard to justify making a trade just to make a trade and not getting back any kind of value that you really value.”

Not that the Hawks are particularly needy. They have players such as Oliver Moore, Frank Nazar, Gavin Hayes and Ethan Del Mastro in the prospect pool. And they’re pretty well-stocked for this summer’s draft (picks acquired in trades in parentheses):

  • First round: 2 (top-10 protected pick from the Lightning)

  • Second: 3 (Kings, Canucks)

  • Third: 2 (Senators)

  • Fourth: 0

  • Fifth: 1 (Predators)

  • Sixth: 1

  • Seventh: 0

“We’ve got a lot of picks right now, so really there’s probably no force on our end to push the envelope,” Richardson said. “So if someone comes and wants to give you something, that’s great, but if not is where I’m expecting it to be.”

2. The trade deadline brings mixed emotions.

Each year, Dickinson gets more and more used to the possibility of saying goodbye to teammates who became friends.

“It sucks because you get to know these guys on a very personal level and you get close with them and you become really tight,” he said, “and then in a blink of an eye, it’s like: ‘I’ve got to pack up. I’ve got a flight this afternoon. I’ve got to go.’”

But it’s not all downside.

“There’s opportunity for guys (left on the roster) that come out of it, so it’s great for (them),” he said. “And being traded to a contender is also a great opportunity for those guys. So there’s a lot of things moving, there’s a lot of emotions for a lot of people that are conflicting and contrasting.”

3. The Hawks hope to build from a road win.

The Hawks finally exorcised the demon that was their 22-game road winless streak by beating the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday.

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“Mentally, the guys were tired of just hearing about it,” Richardson said. “Even though you can professionally try and block it out and prepare (for) winning this game today, there’s still a lot of noise around (that) you hear. You can say you’re going to block it out, but you still hear it.

“It becomes a lot, but we put ourselves in that position. There are games we should’ve won.”

Dickinson said the streak-breaking win was huge and “a massive morale boost.” But he didn’t know the Hawks were on the cusp of the worst road streak in franchise history.

“No, I had no idea about that,” he said. “I didn’t even know about the streak, honestly, until it was hitting about 16 or 17 because every game on the road to me was important.”

Foligno was happy to see the team finally play the way he expects.

“It was nice to see us answer the bell after a tough game in Colorado where I think we kind of realized how separated we felt and looked,” he said. “So I was really proud of our mindset just to come together collectively and put our egos aside or whatever you’re feeling aside, just the frustration, and put it toward whatever the team needs you to do to win a game. And that’s what every guy did.”

The next hill for the Hawks to climb is to string together multiple victories. They only have one streak — a modest two wins — the entire season.

Saturday’s game in Washington against the Capitals is their next opportunity.

“It would be great for us to try and follow it up at least once or twice and get a little bit of a streak going,” Richardson said.

4. Kevin Korchinski’s canniness on Jason Dickinson’s goal even surprised Dickinson.

During a power play in the second period of Tuesday’s 5-2 win in Arizona, the rookie defenseman spied Dickinson on the back door and whipped a pass to him. Dickinson tipped it in three seconds before the power play expired.

“I honestly didn’t think he saw me,” Dickinson told the Tribune. “I wasn’t calling for it. I just put myself in a position and he did a great job of scanning the ice after he set himself up for a shot.”

That was an important distinction to Dickinson. It showed that Korchinski has been learning the finer points of the game.

“If he doesn’t set himself up for the shot, nobody respects that he’s a threat, (it) doesn’t open up the lane to the back post,” Dickinson said. “So it’s his commitment to attacking first that opens up the rest of the ice.

“Typically, maybe he looks for the pass right away, (so) it closes down because that’s what they’re seeing that he’s seeing.”

5. Reinforcements on the way?

There’s a chance forward Andreas Athanasiou (hip, groin) and defenseman Nikita Zaitsev (right knee) could return as soon as Saturday’s game.

Richardson sounded more hopeful about Athanasiou after practice Thursday.

“He looked way more confident out there to me today,” he said. “He was really skating. We had a couple of drills that are full contact and he looked like he was skating fine and had the puck quite a bit. That’s a nice shot. So I think that’ll help him.”

The next box to check: How does his body respond to a more vigorous practice?

“We just want to see how he settled after practice,” Richardson said.

As for Zaitsev, he “possibly” could play Saturday.

“I was surprised today he looked that good,” Richardson said. “But he’s been skating hard and he works hard.

“We’ll have to see how he settles down after doing a little bit of battle work down low at the end of practice. Hopefully he’s not too sore and he’s ready to practice tomorrow. That’d be a good sign.”