Blackhawks’ Landon Slaggert has a role model in Islanders forward Anders Lee

Blackhawks forward Landon Slaggert (left) has long admired Islanders forward Anders Lee (right).

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ELMONT, N.Y. — Now-Blackhawks forward Landon Slaggert was an annoying 8-year-old when now-Islanders forward Anders Lee started his freshman season at Notre Dame in 2010.

Over the next few years, Slaggert started to understand and pay attention to the nuances of hockey, and — thanks to his connections to Notre Dame through his dad Andy, a longtime member of the coaching staff — Lee became one of his first role models.

“What you remember is how those guys made you feel, and he was awesome,” Slaggert said. “I was a little kid running around the rink, and he put up with me and gave me the time of day.”

The Hawks-Isles matchup Tuesday will mark Slaggert’s first time facing Lee in a competitive game; they’re now peers in the NHL despite their 12-year age gap.

The two Notre Dame alums weren’t able to get together for dinner because the Islanders played Monday in Philadelphia to open a back-to-back set, but Slaggert was excited to at least catch up with Lee outside the locker rooms after the game. They already talked briefly when Lee reached out to congratulate Slaggert after his Hawks debut March 15.

In recent years, Slaggert has admired and analyzed Lee’s net-front abilities — tipping pucks and getting to rebounds on the offensive end and boxing out effectively on the defensive end — and tried to integrate those skills into his own game.

Hawks coach Luke Richardson, who coached Lee during his one season as an Islanders assistant, supports that effort.

“He’s probably one of the heaviest guys in front of that net, and he’s got great stick skills and good leadership skills, so he’s a great person for [Landon] to emulate,” Richardson said. “He [just] might have to put on 100 pounds — Anders is a big dude.”

Three-time winner

Connor Bedard — for now a Hawks winger alongside Jason Dickinson — was named the NHL’s Rookie of the Month for March. He also won the award in November and December, making him the first rookie to win three times since Edmonton’s Connor McDavid in 2015-16.

He recorded four goals and 13 assists in 14 games during March; his 17 points were the most by any rookie in any month since Florida’s Anton Lundell also tallied 17 points in January 2022.

Even though Bedard’s box-score production mostly came from assists, he was even more trigger-happy than usual in terms of shooting the puck. He ranked seventh in the NHL — not just among rookies but among all players — with 111 shot attempts in March, and he tied for 10th with 54 shots on goal.

More on Connor Bedard

Tourney update

Three Hawks prospects will participate in the NCAA Frozen Four on April 11: Frank Nazar (Michigan), Ryan Greene (Boston University) and Aidan Thompson (Denver). Top-seeded Boston College is the only Frozen Four team without a Hawks prospect on the roster.

Nazar has quickly quieted any concerns about his slow end to the regular season with an impressive postseason. He scored twice in Michigan’s loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game, then tallied points in both of Michigan’s NCAA Tournament wins so far over North Dakota and Michigan State — including a viral, dramatic between-the-legs pass on the goal that virtually sealed Michigan’s Frozen Four berth.

The Hawks will have only three regular-season games left once the Frozen Four ends, making it increasingly unlikely (albeit still possible) that Nazar could make his NHL debut this season. The timing of when he signs his entry-level contract will obviously also affect the equation.

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