The Chicago Blackhawks entered the season with expectations of selling before the trade deadline. And that remains true, today. However, there are so many considerations that go into who, when, and where players might be dealt, it’s becoming a daily effort to keep up with contenders’ needs and how the Hawks might be able to benefit. Enter NHL Rumors! You’ll be seeing more of these over the next few weeks.
The NHL Trade Deadline this season isn’t until March 3, but as we inch closer to the trade deadline teams start to assess they’re playoff aspirations — and the sellers in the market become more clearly visible.
Kane and Toews Money Factor
The Blackhawks’ big two — Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews — have been headlining NHL rumors since the 2022 draft began. In the final years of their matching contracts, many have felt the organization could move on from them. That is, of course, assuming either will waive their no-move clause at some point. And that conversation is reportedly going to happen at some point in January (checks calendar — soon).
On the Jeff Marek Show yesterday, NHL insider Elliotte Friedman noted that Kane’s injury issue could complicate the trade market for him; he went as far as to float the hypothetical scenario where the Blackhawks re-sign Kane for one year and engage the trade market next year after he gets “a clean up.”
Friedman also mentioned a different take on the money situation for both of Chicago’s future Hall of Famers. “There’s a lot of cap room, but by NHL standards there isn’t a lot of money.” Both Kane and Toews have $4 million bonuses due this year; both of their $2.9 million salaries are almost paid off, but the third team getting involved might be to make the bonus payment work.
Earlier this week, Seattle GM Ron Francis spoke about the Kraken’s approach to the first significant trade deadline in which the franchise will potentially be buyers. I took note of this for a couple reasons: first, the Blackhawks have a few players who might fit in Seattle. Secondly, Norm MacIver was part of that front office when they built their vision for the future, so Francis’ approach could be a glimpse into the stance of the Blackhawks when the ship turns in the right direction.
Here’s something MacIver said back in May when he was re-introduced to the Chicago media after coming back to the organization that I think is especially relevant here:
“We knew the [Kraken last year were] going to struggle to score goals, to win games was going to be challenging, but if we have the right pieces in place so when we do get elite talent, it’s in a real comfortable environment where they can grow and be better and the team can take the next step forward.”
The Kraken are succeeding this year because they’ve started to integrate some of that elite talent that wasn’t on the roster (at least for very long) last year. Matty Beniers is going to run away with the league’s top rookie honor this year, and other free agent additions have made them a legit contender in the Pacific Division. So let’s pair that comment from MacIver with this from Francis in the article below.
“I think it’s a fine line,” Francis said. “It’s a balance, right? You want to show your guys you believe in them and try to add something to help them. But you also understand the importance of building the (foundation) underneath as well. And having a lot of picks maybe gives us the flexibility to do a little bit of both. We’re open to looking at all different possibilities.
Seattle might be looking to bolster their blue line with someone who can move the puck. Chicago has a couple of those — Seth Jones (who has a no-move clause and huge cap hit) his brother Caleb, Jack Johnson and Ian Mitchell — who might be an interesting fit for the Kraken.
If they want to go big and swing for a more significant postseason opportunity, adding a veteran forward might make sense as well. Especially one that can help take some of the postseason pressure off their younger players. And, if the Blackhawks player in question need to be sold on the Seattle organization, they can text Eddie Olczyk to get an idea of the fit.
Columbus’ Top Defenseman Available
Multiple insiders, including Pierre LeBrun, have recently reported that the Blue Jackets (also in the Bad for Bedard Circle of Trust) are going to try to move defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov. The 27-year-old has reportedly balked at re-signing in Columbus, so the team will look to move him before he reaches UFA this summer.
They Jackets are reportedly asking for a first-round pick for Gavrikov. As we’ve previously discussed, front offices see tremendous value in the first and second round in this summer’s draft so that’s a big ask for a potential rental; Columbus may allow teams to talk to Gavrikov and his agent about an extension before a deal is finalized.
With a $2.7 million cap hit, Gavrikov will draw plenty of interest. That could impact the Blackhawks’ ability to move one of their defensemen; Jake McCabe has been a popular name in rumors recently because of his strong play and desire to win.