Rumor Roundup: Not Trading for Eichel, Keith Looking to Move Closer to Home, Zadorov Contract Talks, More

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Rumor Roundup: Not Trading for Eichel, Keith Looking to Move Closer to Home, Zadorov Contract Talks, More

Chicago Blackhawks

It’s been a wild week for the Chicago Blackhawks and the offseason rumors are beginning to swirl. With lawsuits and allegations hanging over the head of the organization, rumors over personnel moves provide some clarity to the direction of the franchise as the Seattle Expansion Draft, the NHL Entry Draft, and the opening of free agency approach quickly at the end of the month.

So let’s go around the horn!

•   This week we heard about the possibility that Blackhawks legendary defenseman Duncan Keith may be on the trade block. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman first reported the “rumblings” out of Chicago that the 37, soon to be 38-year-old, Keith could be looking for a change of scenery. That change of scenery would be closer to his family in British Columbia. After a report from The Athletic’s Scott Powers, it was revealed that it was actually Keith, not the Blackhawks, that opened the discussions for the potential of a trade. Keith has been the minutes-leader for the Blackhawks in every season since he made his NHL debut in 2005-06. If he was to go to a team in the Pacific Northwest, landing spots like the Edmonton Oilers, Seattle Kraken, Vancouver Canucks, and Calgary Flames make the most sense, with either of Seattle or Edmonton actually making sense for Keith to play a lesser role and likely be more effective due to not having to be the No. 1 guy, like in Chicago. We’ll see where this goes, but the steam seems to be picking up and the move would now make sense for a Blackhawks team trying to rebuild.

•   With the potential of trading Keith, the Blackhawks will need to get a real No. 1 defenseman in his place, since the young group of defensemen on the team are not ready for that role. There have been multiple reports that the Blackhawks are going to be in on the trade and free agency market looking for a top-tier defender. Names like Seth Jones and Dougie Hamilton are at the top of the list for Chicago. Aaron Portzline of The Athletic wrote up a number of potential trade packages for Columbus’ Seth Jones, including one for the Blackhawks that would send Lukas Reichel, Philipp Kurashev, Nicolas Beaudin, and the 2022 first-round pick to the Blue Jackets. It’s too much for my blood, especially when there could be room for Chicago to make a pick push for Hamilton in free agency AND keep all of those players and picks.

•   Speaking of trade packages, Powers also reported that the Blackhawks have no interest in trading away Kirby Dach AND are out of the sweepstakes to trade for Sabres Captain Jack Eichel. Eichel would likely bring a third $10M AAV contract on the books for the Blackhawks and would likely put Chicago right back into a cap crunch after barely having time to enjoy having cap space this offseason. Keeping Dach around is the right move, if you ask me. Again, Chicago is rebuilding and holding onto top-tier young talent and draft capital should be their focus. Trading for Eichel would require giving up a TON of young talent and draft capital since Buffalo wants the equivalent of four first-round talents/picks in any trade package for Eichel.

•   Another major nugget from Powers’ report in The Athletic was an update on defenseman Nikita Zadorov’s next contract. It was originally reported that Zadorov would be asking for a five-year, $5.85M AAV deal from the Blackhawks. After a good chuckle, it appears the counter-offer from Chicago is in the $4M AAV range. It’s still too high for what he brings to the table, if you ask me.

•   Zadorov could be a player that the Blackhawks end up protecting in the upcoming Seattle Expansion Draft. We learned that Alexander Nylander would be exempt from needing protection, but with the Blackhawks likely going with the 7-3-1 protection plan, a defenseman like Zadorov or Riley Stillman could be exposed. It’s also been assumed by many that Calvin de Haan would be exposed as well. If a trade involving Keith were to go through before the Expansion Draft, another protection slot could open as well.

•   Quickly speaking of Nylander, his recovery from knee surgery is moving along just fine and he is expected to be ready for the beginning of next season, according to Powers.

•   Regarding the NHL Entry Draft, Powers is reporting that the plan in Chicago is to take the best player available to them at the 11th overall pick. With plenty of needs across the board in their prospect system, this isn’t a bad idea for the Blackhawks. There’s a real chance that they could get a top-tier forward at No. 11, or a decent defenseman who could be part of the next wave of young blue-liners in Chicago. Or, they could land one of the top two goaltenders in the draft class.

•   For your reference, here’s our prospect profiles on a number of players that could be available to the Blackhawks when they arena the clock on July 23rd:

Mason McTavish
Jesper Wallstedt
Chaz Lucius
Cole Sillinger
Matthew Coronato

•   Finally, one last thing coming from Powers’ report was that Rockford IceHogs head coach Derek King and assistant coach Anders Sorensen are expected to sign contract extensions with the AHL club. This was first revealed by King during the AHL end of the season press conference that his entire staff were offered three-year contract extensions. Seems a matter of time before those deals are official.

We’ll keep an eye on all of these rumors as the summer continues. It’s truly going to be a busy month of July for the Blackhawks in many different ways so be sure to follow Bleacher Nation Blackhawks and myself (Mario Tirabassi) on Twitter as stories develop.

Author: Mario Tirabassi

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