On Saturday during the Hockey Night In Canada broadcast Elliotte Friedman said that the Blue Jackets were interested in re-acquiring Arty Anisimov, but the Blackhawks told them that he wasn’t available. Umm…excuse me? Why the hell not? I am NOT in favor of tanking this year. I think I’ve made that clear. And I to be perfectly honest, if the Blackhawks win tonight I will probably convince myself they can make the playoffs. Having said that, if someone wants Anisimov and the three years at $4.55M AAV left on his deal then you answer the fucking phone. And yeah he has a Full NTC clause, but maybe he wants to go back to CBJ and be with his friends
I believe that the Blackhawks probably said something to Friedman or maybe to the Blue Jackets that Anisimov wasn’t available. Simply put…I think that’s bullshit. For a team that’s looking to get younger and faster and also needs to clear future money for guys like Schmaltz, Hinostroza, Hayden, Hartman, DeBrincat, etc there’s no way that the Blackhawks would make Anisimov an untouchable now. Smoke screen city. To what end…I don’t know.
What I do know is that with the Salary Cap going to $80M, Panarin’s bonus overage off the books, Hossa’s LTIR/trade, and removing Anisimov from the equation the Blackhawks(even after signing Hayden, Hartman, and Hinostroza to extensions) could be looking at a summer where most of their roster is filled out and still having almost $20M in money to play with. That’s a pretty good place to be. That’s fuck you money. That’s money that should make the Islanders nervous. Doesn’t happen without moving Arty. I think everyone knows that. My guess is that if he’s not traded at the deadline, something will happen on draft night. His full no-movement clause changes to a limited no-trade on July 1. I think the Blackhawks will find a way to get him off the books.
The NHL Trade Deadline is a week from today. Things are going to start heating up so it’s probably a good time to take a look at the Blackhawks roster and see who is potentially available.
Brandon Saad: $6M AAV through 2021
Elliotte Friedman speculated that Saad could be available in his 31 Thoughts last week. I think that’s highly unlikely and also unwise. The ONLY way you trade Brandon Saad is if he is a part of a package that brings back a young stud RFA defenseman like Noah Hanafin. Short of that, Saad should be staying put. He’s been playing the way he should in the o-zone lately, and he always plays the right way everywhere else on the ice. Saad is part of the solution going forward.
Anthony Duclair: $1.2M AAV, pending RFA
Duclair is an interesting case. The Blackhawks obviously JUST got him in the trade for Richard Panik. That move, on cap savings alone, was a win. Duclair has been fine in his 14 games. 5 points and has bounced from the Toews line to the 4th line to recently the press box. It’s a very small sample size to judge Duclair on, but he is an RFA making over a million bucks which means the minimum the Blackhawks can offer him next summer is 100% of his current deal… $1.2M. Right now he’s not in the lineup, and it’s a numbers game at the wing spots for next year. Duclair will be competing for ice time with Hinostroza, Hayden, and Hartman for sure. It’s possible that he will also need to beat out Dylan Sikura, Matthew Highmore, and potentially a top 10 pick as well. Then if you’re Stan you need to ask youself if Duclair is not only better than those guys I listed but also $300,000-$500,000 better. My opinion is that he’s not, which means the Blackhawks should try to flip him for an asset.
Lance Bouma: $1M AAV, pending UFA
Bouma did his job this year. He kills penalties and can be heavy. Teams like having guys like that in the playoffs. I’m not sure what his trade value is, but my guess is that someone will give up a conditional pick for Bouma. Stick him on the 4th line and let him forecheck.
Patrick Sharp: $800,000 AAV pending UFA
Sharp has a no-trade clause and I don’t think he signed here just to get traded at the deadline as a rental. I don’t want Sharp to be traded. If this is the end of his career then it should end here. If he wants to be traded then sure, but he’s earned that NTC and I think he should exercise it.
Tomas Jurco: $800,000 AAV, pending RFA
I don’t think Jurco has any trade value whatsoever, but if they can get ANYTHING back for Jurco then they should pull the trigger immediately. Giving up a 3rd round pick for Jurco last year…yikes. He doesn’t have a future here, in my opinion, and might not have a future in the NHL period. A pending RFA who might have a nice future with CSKA Moscow.
Tommy Wingels: $750,000 AAV, pending UFA
Breaks my heart, but if I had to guess Tommy Hockey is on his way out of town. Of all the new guys this season, Wingels has done his job the best and most consistently…no matter which job they asked him to do. Wingels played out of position most of the year as a center on the 4th line. It’s not a coincidence that his best games have come since moving to wing. This was definitely a bounce back year for him after Peter DeBoer hated him for no reason in San Jose. Not sure what his trade value is, but I know that there is always a market for guys like Wingels at the deadline. Hard-nosed, versatile, and can kill penalties. If it were up to me the Blackhawks would just bring him back next year as a winger on the 4th line, and maybe he still will, but my gut says this is his last week in Chicago.
Michel Kempny: $900,000 AAV, pending UFA
Jan Rutta: $925,000 AAV, pending UFA
Erik Gustafsson: $650,000 AAV, pending RFA
To me all three of these guys are the same player so I’m lumping them together here. They’re all in their mid 2os. They’ve all been given a shot. They’ve all shown flashes. They’re all on expiring contracts. I want none of them back next year. I suppose you could include Franson on this list too, but he was available for free via waivers a month ago and nobody claimed him so that means there’s no real market for him.
Next year your defense is likely going to be a combination of: Keith, Seabrook, Murphy, Oesterle, Dahlstrom, Forsling, Jokiharju(for at least 10 games), and maybe they spend some of that sweet sweet cap money on a top-4 type Dman in free agency.
That doesn’t leave any room for Kempny, Rutta, and Gustafsson. I’d guess Kempny is probably ready for a change of scenery, Rutta has said that he wants to get paid this summer(not sure if that’s possible, but that’s what he said), and Gustafsson is a marginal NHL dman. If they can get anything for any of those guys then they should. There’s the old cliche that you can never have too many defensemen heading into the playoffs. I’d call up NJ, Washington, Boston, Toronto, and Tampa to see if they want some 7th/8th defenseman depth.
So that’s the list. I suppose there is an outside chance that a guy like Murphy could be traded, but I HIGHLY doubt it. Stan Bowman said a couple weeks ago that the Blackhawks wouldn’t be buyers at the deadline, but this is the first time ever that they’re likely to be sellers in this era. Just because you’re sellers doesn’t mean you’re tanking. Just look at what STL did last year. Shipped out Shattenkirk, everyone counted them out, but the Blues went on a run, made the playoffs, and beat the Wild. The Hawks should be in that mode as well. Compete every night. Earn your money if you’re an RFA, and get ready to go out of the gates for next season. And who knows…if you play hard and keep winning maybe you’ll like where you end up.