It’s that time of year. The NHL Trade Deadline is a month away and it’s pretty clear who the buyers are, and the seller-picture is shaping up too even though nobody seems to want that last Wild Card spot in the West. The Blackhawks are a natural candidate to sell and this week we’ve seen two different media guys putting some information out there.
First it was Jay Zawaski of The Score suggesting the Blackhawks will trade a defensemen
And then today in Elliotte Friedman’s “31 Thoughts” column he mentioned both Chris Kunitz and John Hayden as possible trade targets
I think if the Blackhawks can get ANYTHING for Chris Kunitz that’s a win. He’s a pure rental and a guy who has been through the playoff wars. I don’t care how unproductive a guy has been, if he has a pulse and he has 4 Stanley Cups someone will be willing to trade for him. Friedman cited Calgary as a team that would make sense. It definitely would. Rosters expand so even if Kunitz can’t be in the lineup, he can be in the locker room and that has value to a young team with deep playoff aspirations. What are you going to get for him…not much. Let’s say that it is Calgary who wants him…my guess would be a late round draft choice in 2020 with conditions attached. The Flames don’t have much draft capital in 2019 as they’ve already moved four picks they owned. Kunitz, of course, has a No-Movement Clause in his contract so he’d have to sign off on a deal, but seeing as how he was a rental anyways I can’t imagine he’d throw up any road blocks.
The John Hayden name surprises me. Even though he hasn’t had a very productive year, I still really like Hayden. The Blackhawks don’t really have anyone else like him on the roster or even in the pipeline. He’s a smart kid who works hard, throws his body around, and will defend teammates when needed. Those guys are hard to find. I still think he has offensive upside too. I’d love to see him add a half step. He can be a VERY nice part of a 4th line on a good team. I love the idea of a Caggiula-Kampf-Hayden 4th line next year. That line can give you a little bit of everything. They’d be tough, smart, responsible, and I think would provide enough offensive pop to be given a regular shift. That’s what you want. If you trade Hayden, I don’t think his value would be particularly high AND…you’re going to be looking for a player just like him next summer and it’ll likely cost you more than the $750k he’ll count against the cap. I won’t throw a temper tantrum on the internet if he’s traded, but if it were up to me he’d be a part of the 2019-20 Blackhawks.
Zawaski definitely has a guy in hockey ops. He breaks things from time to time with the Blackhawks. So when his guy tells him “someone will be traded” my ears perked up a bit. Here’s my interpretation of the eight NHL defensemen the Blackhawks currently have and the odds they’ll be dealt
Brent Seabrook: 0% chance. He has a full NTC and I believe he would use it based on conversations I’ve had with people around the team. I can’t imagine there is a strong market for him and his contract that runs through the 2023-24 season. Both of those factors combined puts his likelihood of being in a different uniform at roughly zero percent
Henri Jokiharju: 0% chance. Take everything I said about Seabrook…think of the exact opposite, and that’s why Jokiharju won’t be traded. He’s struggled since Colliton was hired, but the Hawks obviously believe he has top 4 potential. He’s not going anywhere.
Duncan Keith: 12% chance. Keith also has a full NTC, but I think he’d waive it for the right situation. I think that situation is probably Toronto or MAYBE Boston. Keith can still play. I wouldn’t trade him. I want the Hawks to be back in the playoffs next season and I believe having Keith in the mix on Defense is the best way to do that. It’s a non-zero chance though.
Connor Murphy: 20% chance. Murphy has been better this year. I think he’s an ideal 3rd pair type guy on an elite team and maybe can be a reliable 2nd pair guy on a very good team. His limitations are…anything with the puck. Not sure how you fix that, but perhaps you can hide it. He’s another guy I would like to keep around, but I wouldn’t cry if he were traded either. His cap hit is very manageable for the Hawks or for a potential trade partner. Murphy to Montreal would make some sense.
Slater Koekkoek: ?% chance. I really just don’t care and don’t want to spend any time thinking or writing about Cookoo getting traded
Carl Dahlstrom: 25% chance. You can never have too many defensemen in a run for the Cup, but it’s shit or get off the pot time with Dahlstrom. He’s the ultimate “meh” guy. Has some nice moments and some eye roll moments. Good size, but not physical. Pretty good skater, but not a wow factor skater. He’s just fine. If you can get a draft pick for him this year as teams are looking for defensive depth then by all means…move him and then hope you can replace him with Rockford guys like Dennis Gilbert, Blake Hillman, Lucas Carlsson, etc. The Hawks obviously also have Mitchell, Boqvist, and Beaudin coming soon. They have a ton of defensemen that they need to decide if they like going forward. My gut says that they’ll move Dahlstrom if they can get a 4th rounder for him.
Gustav Forsling: 25% chance. Similar situation to that of Dahlstrom. Both Swedes who have been pros in North America for a while now and haven’t been able to carve out a permanent role on the varsity. Both are also RFAs. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them is dealt between now and the NHL Draft. They’re both guys who I wouldn’t mind having in the 3rd pair or in an organizational depth role, but the Blackhawks have too many guys who meet that description.
and that brings us to…
Erik Gustafsson: 50% chance. These percentages are completely arbitrary, but I needed a unit of measure to show that I think it’s most likely that Gustafsson gets traded. I’ve never been a fan of his. Going all the way back to the year when the Blackhawks lost in the first round to St Louis. His talent is obvious. Great skater and outstanding offensive instincts. He just gets lost or lazy in his own end sometimes. He has plenty of talent to be in the top 4 of a playoff team, but he’s not a guy you can trust to make the right decisions away from the puck and for that reason…I’m out. You’d also hope that Mitchell and Boqvist can replace much of what he does from an offensive stand point. Maybe Jokiharju at some point as well. His contract is virtually nothing at $1.5M(still double what Stan should’ve given him) and if someone out there wants a boost to their 2nd power play unit while logging 15 minutes per night of 5 on 5 that will make your butt hole clench up because you’re so nervous then Gustafsson is your man. I think the Hawks will be able to swipe a 2nd round pick for him. Colorado, Montreal, Boston, Toronto, basically that entire division could use defensive depth.
Hold on to your butts, and get ready to let go of some NHL talent. The Blackhawks should be selling off a few pieces here and I am ready for it.