Insiders Discuss Blackhawks' Best Trade Fits for Cup Contenders

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Insiders Discuss Blackhawks’ Best Trade Deadline Fits for Cup Contenders

Chicago Blackhawks

On the Get Yer’ Back Podcast on Wednesday, NHL Insiders Pierre LeBrun and Ryan Rishaug were joined by Mike Johnson and Darren Dreger for some trade rumor chatter. They went through a top ten ranking list of teams in the NHL (from 10 to 1), identifying some potential best fits for each team between now and the deadline.

The Blackhawks did not have a potential trade target mentioned with any of the first three teams on the list…

  • Vegas (No. 10) has huge cap issues but might need a top-nine forward (if they can figure out how to afford one) and possibly an upgrade in net.
  • Edmonton was at No. 9 and their blue line (left-side, second-pair specifically) was their target. All of the insiders said they need to go for it right now with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl being controlled and in their prime(s). Dreger thinks Ken Holland will eventually pay the price to make a fairly significant addition before the deadline, even if he doesn’t necessarily want to.
  • The New Jersey Devils checked in at No. 8 on the list, and they leaned on a scorer to help them. And Jersey has cap space to work with. They’ve made a big jump in the standings this year and LeBrun calls them a potential wild card before the deadline because they went after big-ticket free agents last summer and came up short. They have prospect depth and cap flexibility to do some real damage — if they want to swing big.

…But the connections grew from there.

Top of the Central

At No. 7, came the Winnipeg Jets, “the story everybody would like to see… is Jonathan Toews and the return.”

Dreger said he believes the more significant add for them will be on the blue line — if they do anything big. And Dreger doesn’t necessarily think they will because they like their room. Johnson said he would like to see them add a winger, which isn’t likely to be a fit with the Blackhawks. Not surprisingly given their center depth, Toews was actually not mentioned as a top fit in his hometown.

The Dallas Stars checked in at No. 6 — a team that has been linked to Patrick Kane a few times this season. The Stars already traded their first-round pick in this year’s draft to the Rangers this summer, so all of the insiders put that caveat on how big the Stars might be able to swing at this deadline.

Johnson said he could see a depth wing to help their offense. Two names he brings up are Columbus’ Gustav Nyquist and Chicago’s Andreas Athanasiou. This is the first time I’ve heard AA mentioned with Dallas, so that was interesting to me but makes sense.

Colorado comes in at No. 5 and the insiders all chuckle about the obvious need of a second-line center. St. Louis’ Ryan O’Reilly and Toews are both mentioned; Johnson questions if O’Reilly plays with enough pace to keep up with their lineup. LeBrun brings up Sean Monahan as well. He also said Colorado might be the most aggressive team at the deadline in trying to defend their championship.

Top of the Rankings

The Toronto Maple Leafs are at No. 4 on the list. Dreger immediately starts the conversation with a shut-down, depth defenseman. Jake McCabe has been linked to Toronto. Dreger also talks about the “luxury” add of a top-six winger being possible.

Carolina checks in at No. 3 on the list. They’ve reportedly been shopping for center help, and they also recently lost Max Pacioretty to another Achilles’ injury. LeBrun said he spoke with Canes GM Don Waddell wanted to put the breaks on the idea of them spending big on a rental. He said any addition has to be something that helps them beyond this year. Dreger throws some shade at Vancouver for not allowing teams to talk to Bo Horvat’s camp about an extension before a trade because it hurts the value the Canucks might bring back. I was interested that none of the insiders mentioned Toews here.

Tampa Bay was at No. 2 on the list. LeBrun mentioned their lack of a first-round pick this year (the Blackhawks already own that). By the way, Chicago also owns their first and second round picks in 2024 as well. Johnson thinks they might look to add on defense and reminds us the Lightning always find a way to make the money work. LeBrun thinks they’d like to tinker with a top-nine forward and a depth defenseman.

Boston, of course, is No. 1 on the list — they’re a wagon. “You know what Don Sweeney should do? Nothing.” None of the insiders think the Bruins need to do much… but they also doubt Boston will sit still and might look to add assets to bolster the next generation beyond this year’s veteran team that’s running away with the regular season crown.

You can listen to the podcast here:

Cost of Doing Business Concern

Yesterday, The Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli was on Sportsnet 590 in Toronto and a number of Blackhawks potential trade candidates came up. Seravalli comments about both Kane and Toews, whose seasons have been opposites of what many expected this season.

“That’s actually I think the story of this deadline because it’s not just [Columbus defenseman Vladislav] Gavrikov that’s coming from a bad team. Depending on who you’re looking at, it’s likely also Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews and the big question you’re asking yourself with those guys is: how much of what we’ve seen from them this season and last is a biproduct of just not having the proper support?

Is what we’ve seen from Jonathan Toews because he’s playing with Philipp Kurashev and Taylor Raddysh? Or is it because he’s a little bit older now — eight years removed from being Selke-guy Jonathan Toews — and is really just kind of a guy with fiery instinct? Or is what you’re going to get from him a rejuvenated guy that has a shot in the arm with a chance to win and compete again?”

That cost/value consideration is something that will undoubtedly factor into anything the Blackhawks do between now and the trade deadline.

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Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab