The Blackhawks Should Be Sellers At The Deadline, In Case You Didn't Know That
We are 41 days from the deadline and coming off a game where the Blackhawks gave up 8 goals to a team that won’t sniff the playoffs and were missing their best player. After a really strong December I was hopeful that the Blackhawks would be able to make a run at the playoffs. I saw a pretty sobering stat today and that kill my hope. The Anaheim Ducks have lost 12 straight games
And the Blackhawks are still behind them in the standings
Nothing like being jealous of a team in a COMPLETE free fall to make you get a grip on reality. The reality is that the Blackhawks are not going to be a playoff team in 2019. The reality is that the organization has wasted another season with Toews and Kane playing their best hockey. Tje reality is that they’re wasting my prime blogging years. The reality is that they need to have a fire sale leading up to the deadline.
The problem is…when you stink you probably don’t have many players that have value. That is DEFINITELY the case for the Blackhawks. You need a buyer to be a seller. Who is buying Brent Seabrook? Chris Kunitz? I’m guessing those phone calls don’t get answered. The name of the game is cap relief for next summer. Here are a few guys who might be attractive to a team chasing down a Cup
I wrote about this extensively last week. Obviously there are a ton of challenges to trading starting with his health and also his FULL no-movement clause. However, you’d have to think that Calgary, the Islanders, and Avalanche would all be interested in rolling the dice with Crawford for a playoff run if those big question marks could be answered. If you’re the Blackhawks you have to feel extremely confident that Delia is your guy going forward OR that you can find a Crawford replacement elsewhere when the team is theoretically ready to compete next season after a big summer.
Similar list of teams to those who would be interested in Crawford. Cam Ward has been good this year. Passes the eye-test at least, even if his numbers aren’t great. Playoff teams are always looking for insurance options and Cam Ward would be a good one. Expiring contract, playing well, playoff experience, great locker room guy. That still has value. Ward also has a NTC, but I have a hard time imagining that he’d exercise it because who cares about the last two months or so of the season when you’re not coming back to Chicago next year anyways? Someone else will sign your checks.
I hope Stan Bowman has unlimited data. He should have his phone taped to his head between now and the deadline. Anisimov can help a playoff team with center depth, veteran experience, and situational versatility. He doesn’t provide that same value to the Blackhawks, especially now that Dylan Strome has cemented himself as Kane’s center. You could make an argument that Montreal could use another center .Colorado and the Islanders also have plenty of cap space and nobody who quite fits Anisimov’s description. A source told me that the Hawks got close to a deal for Anisimov over the summer but it fell apart for one reason or another. If I were Stan I’d be willing to eat a bit of cap space if necessary to make this happen. Can’t have Anisimov on the books as a bottom 6 LW for the next 2 years.
Take the paragraph about Cam Ward and combine it with the paragraph about Anisimov. Kruger doesn’t have a role on the Hawks going forward. David Kampf will ascend(or descend depending on how good you think he is) into that 4C position. Kruger having a lower cap hit and being a rental probably makes him arguably the most likely Blackhawk to be traded at the deadline. He’s back to doing Kruger things this year. He’s a winning player with good habits. A guy you can trust with a face-off in your own zone up one goal late in the 3rd period. I’d assume SJ, Vegas, Calgary, Pittsburgh, Toronto, and really anyone who has playoff aspirations would be interested in adding him. And…if a team decides he’s cooked well you probably only gave up a 6th round pick to get him so who cares.
I LOVE Erik Gustafsson when he has the puck. I don’t really love Gustafsson when he doesn’t. In my opinion he’s the perfect 6th dman on a good team. A guy who can skate, move the puck, and run a good PP. He also has a favorable deal and he’s signed through next year.
The issue is that the Blackhawks have a lot of guys who fit that description that are knocking on the door. Jokiharju, Mitchell, Boqvist, and Beaudin. They can all do those things. Maybe not as well as Gustafsson at this point, but they all likely have a higher ceiling. If you think Gustafsson is going to be on the Blackhawks beyond next year, then maybe you keep him. If you’re unsure then now is this best time to move him because his value on the trade market will only go down as time goes on. The Blackhawks were able to get a 3rd round pick last year for Kempny. You’d think that a younger defensemen with a better contract and better tape this year would be able to get a 2nd round pick in return. Montreal is DESPERATE for defensemen and they have their eyes on the playoffs. My first offer would be Gustafsson linked to Anisimov. You can have both of them for a 2nd and 4th. No salary retained. Let’s make a deal.
If the Blackhawks are able to move both Anisimov and Gustafsson then when combined with Ward, Kruger, and Kunitz coming off the books the Blackhawks have $12.525M available for free agency before you factor in a cap increase to a projected $83.5M and the money the Blackhawks already have that Stan has sat on all year. When it’s all said and done the Blackhawks could have $28M to fill out the roster in the summer of 2019-20. That sounds like a recipe for watching hockey in June.