The Blackhawks are clear-cut sellers at the upcoming NHL trade deadline, but might they ALSO be buyers if the Minnesota Wild decide to trade the rights to Jack McBain? Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek first reported Saturday night on Hockey Night in Canada, and The Athletic’s Michael Russo has now confirmed that the Minnesota Wild are unlikely to re-sign McBain, who is finishing up his final season at Boston College.
McBain was the Wild’s third-round pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, but McBain and Minnesota have yet to reach a deal on an entry-level contract, and if they don’t before the March 21 trade deadline, McBain will become an unrestricted free agent on August 15. That presents an opportunity for the league, and for the Wild.
According to Russo, Minnesota GM Bill Guerin has given McBain’s advisor permission to speak with other teams and determine which ones McBain would be willing to sign with (before providing that list to the Wild). Guerin would then consider trading the rights to McBain to one of those teams before the deadline.
Russo mentions that “two dozen teams have called” about McBain’s availability, which is obviously a lot of competition, but the Blackhawks are one of just two teams (along with the Jets) actually identified among those with potential interest.
#mnwild trade tracker: The LATEST on Jack McBain, and what else we’re hearing ahead of the NHL deadline
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McBain is a six-foot-four, 200-pound center who led Boston College in scoring this season with 29 points (18 goals, 11 assists) in 22 games. The reported asking price is a second-round pick or a rental player that the Wild could use right now (they’re in win-now mode, entering Tuesday with 67 points in third place in the Central Division).
The Blackhawks are notably devoid of talented forward prospects outside of Lukas Reichel, so maybe McBain could be a nice addition at the right price. My pause, however, is spending a second-round pick on a 22-year-old college player. Could the Blackhawks instead entice the Wild with a rental player who could create more depth for Minnesota? Maybe a Calvin de Haan? The addition of de Haan could bolster Minnesota’s blue line and knock Jordie Benn out of the top-seven in that group. Perhaps a change of scenery move for a player like Henrik Borgström?
Then again, if Russo’s reporting that two dozen teams have inquired on McBain’s availability, the Blackhawks might be wise not getting into a bidding war here. There’s also the fact that all this is contingent on McBain wanting to sign with the Blackhawks. Is he interested in coming into a rebuilding team at 22-years-old? Some speculated that Minnesota considered signing McBain and bringing him right to the NHL level after his junior season at BC.
In the end, it’s an intriguing possibility to add a talented forward prospect to a team whose cupboard is bare in that department, but I would hope that it’s not at the price of a second-round pick.