No GM? No problem!
I kid, of course, because, yes: The Chicago Blackhawks should be open for business, when it comes to improving ahead of the March 21 NHL Trade Deadline. And, heck, we’ve seen plenty of rumors begin to swirl around the team – everyone from Marc-André Fleury, to Dylan Strome, Dominik Kubalík, and Calvin de Haan could theoretically be on the move. But one name that is generally understood to be an “untouchable,” in Chicago is Patrick Kane. That is, as we understand, unless he asks for it.
One of the pillars of the Blackhawks’ modern dynasty, Kane is still arguably the best player on the team and one of the best 10-15 forwards in the NHL. He is also arguably the Blackhawks most valuable trade chip. For now, Patrick Kane is not being traded and his name is not being put out into the trade world to be considered “available.” But that doesn’t mean teams aren’t asking the Blackhawks about him.
Making an appearance on the latest Jeff Marek Show, Sportnet’s Elliotte Friedman said there could be something brewing in Chicago regarding Kane’s future with the Blackhawks, as the team tries to figure out its own future from a front office and coaching standpoint.
Kane is starting to talk about ‘Hey, what are we going to be doing here?’ He is sending a message that he just wants to know if his opinion is going to matter [in Chicago].
I think they have been asked about him. I think teams have asked the Blackhawks, ‘What are you doing with Kane? Is there any chance he can be available?’
You’ll remember just a few days ago, Kane shared some of his thoughts on the current GM search in Chicago and what he would hope the incoming GM would do in regards to listening to the veterans in the Blackhawks’ locker room.
Patrick Kane hopes the new GM, whoever it is, will give veteran players such as him a voice in the process, saying players have a unique perspective on what's working and what's not.
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) February 12, 2022
Friedman also dropped some information on the current GM search for the Blackhawks:
I think Chicago has another interview this week and then they might be wrapping up the first round of their search, and I do think there is a legitimate possibility they go a little bit ‘different’ here.
That could mean a wide variety of things ranging from hiring Cubs assistant GM Jeff Greenberg, to hiring Eric Tulsky, to hiring someone who hasn’t even interviewed yet, or going with the ultimate wool over the eyes move and naming Marian Hossa the surprise GM.
But there needs to be some cohesiveness between the team and their top players. As Friedman says in closing his point, “Players shouldn’t be making personnel decisions, but your best players’ opinions should be heard.”
I agree wholeheartedly that you should listen to your veteran players and that they should not be the ones pulling the trigger on trades or other moves. But in this case, you are looking at a player like Kane, with his past, and an organization like the Blackhawks as they try to move forward from “2010,” and you have to wonder why would they continue to differ to the players/people who were around then that are still around now?
Now, is any sane GM going to come in and brush players like Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews to the side? No.
But what do you expect those kinds of players to tell you as they consider their final years of playing professionally? That they want to go through a rebuild or want to be the old guys in a room of young, unproven talent? No. They will want you to be a buyer and to do whatever it takes to win now. That’s not where the Blackhawks are as an organization.
And, going by Friedman’s assessment, it seems like if Kane is not jiving with the new GM’s decisions to go into a rebuild. If that is what they ultimately do (which, we think they should), then maybe his time in Chicago could be coming to an end.
Kane has a massive $10.5M AAV cap hit for the rest of this season and next. He also holds a full no-movement clause on his deal. He would leave a giant hole in the organization that the Blackhawks do not have the resources to fill right away, but he would also get back the most valuable future resources the organization could ask for in a trade. With the idea that Chicago is asking for a boat-load for Brandon Hagel, imagine what the asking price would be for Kane.
We’re likely not going to see any team pony-up something like that (multiple first round picks and multiple top prospects), but that’s not to say there is a zero-percent chance it doesn’t happen.