Since we’re all in the mood to talk about trades, and the Blackhawks are in the mood to start making trades, let’s talk about other trades that the team should be making as March 21, the NHL Trade Deadline approaches.
Chicago is not going to contend for a Stanley Cup, but we kind of knew that even before the season. They are not going to be contending for a Stanley Cup Playoff spot, which we thought they could do before the season. So as the calendar turns to 2022, Chicago has two and a half months to get anything they can for the future from what they have right now.
Things start and stop with Fleury when it comes to trade pieces for the Blackhawks. The 37-year-old goaltender is looking better than he was at the beginning of the season, but playing on one of the worst offensive teams in the league doesn’t help you much. The 2021 Vezina Winner came to Chicago under the assumption from former GM Stan Bowman that he wouldn’t be traded in the 2021-22 season. After convincing Fleury to come to Chicago, moving his family once again, Bowman is gone and interim GM Kyle Davidson is tying to operate as if he is going to be the permanent GM with the Blackhawks.
Fleury has the most value for Chicago, but he is also the only one on our list here that has trade protection (ten-team no-trade list). He’s on an expiring deal, but comes with a $7M AAV cap hit. One team that desperately needs a top goaltender, even just an upgrade at goaltender, are the Edmonton Oilers. They are contenders in the Western Conference, and Fleury would presumably want one more run at a Stanley Cup. If he can be sold on moving to Edmonton in the middle of winter, Fleury’s haul coming back to Chicago from the Oilers could be substantial, if Edmonton is willing to pay up to not waste another year of Connor McDavid and Leon Draistail together.
Earlier this season, we thought that when the Boston Bruins mentioned they were looking to trade Jake DeBrusk, that a Strome-for-DeBrusk deal made a lot of sense at the time. That ship might have sailed, but Strome’s trade value is still an option for the Blackhawks. Unfortunately their depth at the center position is atrocious and Strome, even though he is rarely used properly by Derek King in the lineup, is valuable to the Blackhawks. He’s on an expiring deal and comes with a $3M AAV cap hit, which will be hard for teams to take on without the Blackhawks retaining a percentage. If there is a contending team that needs help in their top-nine forwards group, Strome could/should be an option. Looking at you, Pittsburgh.
Calvin de Haan
Chicago’s defensive group has improved under Derek King, making their trade value a bit better than it looked like it would be earlier in the season. But with just one point in 29 games this season, if the Blackhawks are feeling de Haan to potential suitors, it has to be in a depth defensive role where he could be an improvement over most teams fifth or sixth defenseman in the rotation. He’s on an expiring deal with a $4.55M AAV cap hit, which is going to be a problem for pretty much any team that is looking at him, so again Chicago would expect to retain salary on him. If they want to get over the hump and stay in the playoff chase, maybe the L.A. Kings are a fit?
Much like Strome, Kubalík could very easily come into a new environment and play a significant role in improving a team top-nine forwards group. He has been underperforming ever since his rookie season in 2019-20, where he scored 30 goals. He has a cannon on the powerplay and when put into the right line combination, can be a dangerous shooting option. His cap hit is going to be an issue, again, coming with a $3.7M AAV cap hit and being a restricted free agent this summer means he’s either a rental for a team or he is going to play well enough in a postseason run that he becomes a part of their future. Could Edmonton pay up on both Kubalík and Fleury? It would be major, but it would be a huge “go for it” move on behalf of Connor McDavid getting a Stanley Cup.
For a team needing a penalty-killer and a depth forward, Carpenter comes with a great deal of experience and an affordable deal. He’s on an expiring deal with a $1M AAV cap hit. He’s an unrestricted free agent this summer and I think there’s little chance the Blackhawks bring him back beyond this year anyway.
Just move him already. He had a flash in the pan opportunity at the beginning of the year for the Blackhawks, but is now in and out of the lineup. He came to Chicago on basically a tryout deal with an $800,000 AAV cap hit to curb the losses of Caleb Jones and Wyatt Kalynuk to injury at the start of the season. He’s overstayed his welcome and he could be an option on the second poerwplay and your third-pair for a team looking to get over the hump.
March 21 seems like it’s far away, but at the same time, is creeping up. The Blackhawks Are not creeping up the standings anytime soon, so now is the time to begin to find out what value you can get for your spare parts. In turn, Chicago can open spots in the lineup later in the season to find out what they have in young players like Lukas Reichel, Josiah Slavin, Evan Barratt, Isaak Phillips, Jakub Galvas, and Alec Regula, as well as give meaningful minutes to players like Nicolas Beaudin and Ian Mitchell.