What Are the Blackhawks Going to Do Between Today and the Trade Deadline?

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What Are the Blackhawks Going to Do Between Today and the Trade Deadline?

Chicago Blackhawks

The NHL Trade deadline, if you hadn’t heard, is April 12th. And between now and then, the Blackhawks (currently holding onto the fourth and final spot of the Central Division playoff race) will play eight more games. What they do with their roster in that time, however, remains a mystery.

Fortunately, Elliotte Friedman provided some useful perspective during the most recent Blackhawks Talk Podcast with Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis.

https://twitter.com/CRoumeliotis/status/1375559569955491841?s=20

Friedman underscores how important a team’s willingness to make deals work will be this deadline, given the difficult circumstances of the pandemic. He also adds some context on the sort of returns we might expect to see for a certain caliber of player: “I think guys who will garner first-round picks are players with term or players that are so good, that multiple teams want to have them.”

(Michael: Not exactly Earth-shattering revelations here, but every bit helps. And, hey, there is something to say about the “rental” market not quite being as hot as it is other years). 

We saw what the market may look like on Friday afternoon when the Montreal Canadiens traded a 2021 third-round and fifth-round pick to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Eric Staal, with Buffalo retaining half of his remaining salary.

Another hurdle facing this trade market is the uncertainty of the 2021 NHL Draft and the draft class of talent: “Teams tried to move it back because a lot of these prospects haven’t played a lot. The kids in Ontario (OHL) haven’t played at all as of today.” Teams are reportedly looking at 2022 draft capital having more value than picks in this summer’s draft.

As far as the Blackhawks are concerned, Friedman said the biggest question facing the team (with their $20M+ in cap space) is what the sweetener be for Chicago in a deal where they are taking on either a bad contract or dead money: “Stan Bowman isn’t going to do that for free,” Friedman said. “He’s going to ask for a decent prospect or a good pick.”

For many years, Bowman and the Blackhawks were the team that needed help out of salary cap crunches, giving up sweeteners of their own. This season, however, Chicago finds themselves on the other side of the coin with plenty of cap space. They won’t be a dumping ground for just any bad deal; they can be selective since they are working towards a playoff spot.

An example Friedman lays out is a potential move for Taylor Hall, where Chicago could be used as a third team, like the Toronto Maple Leafs were used in the Robin Lehner deal between the Blackhawks and Golden Knights.

On the likely market for Mattias Janmark, Friedman touted the respect that the 28-year-old has earned over the past two seasons around the league. He went on to say that he could see the return in a Janmark deal be a second-round pick or a decent prospect, depending on who you are dealing with. “The team that makes sense to me for Janmark is Colorado.” Friedman said. “Colorado is looking for a forward with a bit of edge to him.”

Friedman also touched on what the Blackhawks may be doing with Calvin de Haan ahead of the upcoming Seattle Kraken expansion draft. “Every team is weighing moves with the expansion draft in mind,” Friedman said. “[Calvin] de Haan has term left, he has two years. I think it’s very hard to trade guys with term left.”

When discussing the trade market and what the Blackhawks do at the deadline, it always comes back around to their intentions.

Do the Blackhawks continue the “rebuild,” selling at the deadline and in the summer to gain future assets? Or does Chicago look at the standings, look at the empty United Center, and look at the way the team has been playing this season — without Jonathan Toews and Kirby Dach, mind you — thinking about what a playoff run would mean financially?

“Even in a great hockey market like Chicago, when you are coming out of the pandemic, it is going to be easier to sell tickets and get your fans back in the building if you make the playoffs. Any owner will tell you the difference in making or missing the playoffs is enormous.”

He went on to say that this is a year where being thin is not a good option. A year where the schedule is compressed and players are not only susceptible to injury but to getting sick, it’s better to be in a playoff run and have a full roster at your disposal. “If you really want to make the playoffs, you don’t want to be thin.”

Ultimately, I like where Chicago is sitting. For the first time in a long time, they’re in the driver’s seat at the deadline. If the trade market is right, and you can get valuable prospects/higher-round draft picks for guys like Janmark and Söderberg, then go for it. And if it isn’t, Chicago can very easily just take this roster as far as it can go — especially with Kirby Dach’s return on the horizon. As silly as it sounds, his return *will* feel like a major mid-season “acquisition.”

All they need to do is avoid making a deal just for the sake of it. There’s no sense in wasting a rare opportunity to control their own future.



Author: Mario Tirabassi

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.