In the Monday edition of their “32 Thoughts” Podcast (a must-listen for hockey fans), Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman spent the first ~15 minutes talking about the current state of the two teams in the Winter Classic (Bruins and Penguins). And one part of their discussion about the Penguins, in particular, got my attention.
Freidman begins the conversation with a reminder that Pittsburgh is always going for it, and Marek chimes in that bringing back both Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang indicate that they’re very much in it this year. But Friedman caveats his comments by then noting that the Pens have been inconsistent this season, including some big swings from win streaks to losses.
“I’m not doubting at all that they’re going for it. I just wonder if they’re sitting here and thinking… like, for example, I got a call this morning — and this is just spit-balling, I don’t want anyone to go crazy with this — but we were talking briefly last night about Jake McCabe… The Athletic had a couple really interesting interviews this week with some of the Chicago players like Ian Mitchell — frustrated he hasn’t been playing very much. I think the Blackhawks feel they’re going to sort that one out.
“Jake McCabe… he’s close to where he grew up. He went to Chicago for a reason. But he’s been in Buffalo and Chicago — he’s never had an opportunity to win and he wants to win. Add I don’t think the Blackhawks are in any hurry to trade Jake McCabe because I think they really like him. but they also recognize this is a player who wants to win and there are going to be teams — and I think Edmonton would potentially be one of them — that are gonna call and say ‘what are you thinking here?’ And someone called me this morning and said for arguments sake, if I was Pittsburgh, that would be a guy that I would be calling Chicago and saying ‘Look, he’s locked in. you know what his number is.’ Is that a guy that would make any sense for Pittsburgh?”
The interview with McCabe that they reference at The Athletic, by Mark Lazerus, got my attention, too. Because he did make it clear that he wants to win.
“I don’t really give a s— about my personal stats, to be honest with you,” McCabe told Lazerus. “It’s all about the team and all about winning. I’ve lost a lot in this league, and it’s getting pretty old. So I wouldn’t say that I’m by any means satisfied if I’m playing good or not. It depends on how we’re doing as a team.”
And I think we’re all agreeing at this point that winning isn’t happening in Chicago right now. And McCabe could be a player who draws plenty of interest between now and the trade deadline. He has two more years after this at a $4 million cap hit. Term and that dollar amount for a decent defenseman who can play a physical game and give you 20 minutes per night is a nice package.
As the rumors continue to increase in the coming days and weeks, it’s going to be interesting to see if McCabe’s name comes up more frequently. Friedman mentions both Pittsburgh and Edmonton in his “spit-balling” on the podcast this morning, and I mentioned the LA Kings reportedly searching for a defenseman in my Monday morning bullets. There are going to be teams for whom McCabe might make sense. And, given his comments to Lazerus, waiving his limited no-move clause might not be as tricky as it might have been previously.