When Do the Blackhawks Sit Jake McCabe?

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When Do the Blackhawks Sit Jake McCabe to Protect His Trade Value?

Chicago Blackhawks

There’s a trend evolving in the NHL right now. Teams are announcing they’re removing players from their game-night lineup to keep them healthy because of “trade-related reasons.”

The Arizona Coyotes did it over the weekend with Jakob Chychrun, who will now reportedly sit until a trade is consummated. And on Tuesday morning, the Columbus Blue Jackets announced they’re going to sit Vladislav Gavrikov because he’s close to being dealt as well.

Which begs the question: at what point do the Blackhawks follow suit with their hottest trade asset right now: defenseman Jake McCabe?

McCabe has been one of the more honest players in the room this season about where the Blackhawks are right now and his desire to win. He recently told Ben Pope at the Chicago Sun-Times that he didn’t think he was joining a rebuild when he signed a four-year deal with the Blackhawks last summer.

‘‘Given the nature of where we’re at in the standings, it’s just part of it all,’’ McCabe said Monday. ‘‘[It’s] definitely not how I envisioned my tenure going here, being at the bottom of the standings, but it is what it is.’’

In a piece for The Athletic about what the Toronto Maple Leafs should do before the deadline, Pierre LeBrun once again brought up a McCabe-Toronto deal. The Leafs have been tied to McCabe for some time, and they just so happen to play two games in the next five days against the Blackhawks (Wednesday night in Toronto and at the United Center on Sunday). Here’s what LeBron wrote about a Toronto-Chicago deal:

Is there a way for the Leafs to pry Jake McCabe out of Chicago? I’m told McCabe is generating quite a few phone calls and the Blackhawks are listening. McCabe has two years left on his contract after this season at a $4 million average annual value. Given the club control, my sense from talking to teams around the league is that the price to acquire him would likely have to include a first-round pick. If salary was retained and McCabe became a $2 million cap-hit steal for the next 2 1/2 years, well, that cost goes up for the acquiring teams.

With two games against the Leafs — reportedly the only Canadian team that isn’t on McCabe’s seven-team no-trade list — one might think those games could either be viewed as a high-leverage watch party or… a time to keep him out of the lineup.

As the other two top names in the blue line rumor mill now take a seat because they’re involved in hot trade conversations, one has to wonder if the time comes soon for the Blackhawks to do the same with McCabe.

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