The Chicago Blackhawks recently acquired Tomas Jurco and that write-up can be seen here
The Blackhawks are back. After a disappointing playoff loss in the first round to the Blues last year things seemed to be in question in Chicago. Can the hawks win with Kane/Toews taking so much of the cap? What is going to happen to the backend this year? Will they have enough to resign Panarin after the Kruger extention?
Well the ‘hawks and specfically the best GM in the league, Stan Bowman, have answered all those questions. Kane and Toews are playing great and the questions around Toews’ performance have all been answered. They defense has been better than expected, thanks to the development of Trevor Van Riemssdyk (TVR). The Brian Campbell signing hasn’t really paid off but Keith and Seabrook have been as great as always. They got the Panarin deal done for a steal of $6MM per year for only two years. Chicago is in win now mode and should be looking to make some moves.
Chicago has played well with a +28 goal differential leading them to 2nd in the Central and 2nd in the Western Conference. They are ranked 7th in both goals per game and goals against per game which could be higher with a little special teams help. They rank 16th in PP% and a bad 28th in Penalty Killing %. The Penalty killing % is a little off since they basically let in a goal on every other power play for the first three weeks of the year.
In Goal they have the underrated Corey Crawford who sports a 2.58 GAA and .917 SV%, both lower than his career averages. Backing him up is Scott Darling. Darling has had a long/tough career playing for every team under the sun. Here is a list of teams Darling has played for, its a lot. Darling is a UFA after this year and will probably be given some offers at a #1 job somewhere in the NHL. He loves Chicago though and is rumored to be staying, though making it work in the salary cap level will be tough.
Chicago is one of the more active teams in the league so they have a lot of different assets.
2017: Their 1st,2nd, 4th-6th. An additional 2 picks in the 5th(Car/STL), 1 pick in the 6th(NYI), and 1 pick in the 7th (ANA).
2018: All of their picks except for their 2nd rounder
2019: All of their picks.
So Chicago has some ammo to make a move this trade season, though they have been active trading their prospects in the past they may want to hold on to some picks to replenish the system.
Chicago is tight up against the cap with only $2.5MM available at the deadline.
Lets look at some trade targets:
Patrick Sharp: Everyone in Chicago knows and loves Patrick Sharp. He would be a great fit on the first line next to Toews but there is an issue. Cap space is an issue. Sharp has a 5.9MM cap hit and while Dallas can retain salary it will make the return that much more expensive for Chicago. After doing the Jurco deal I’m not sure Chicago needs to upgrade their offense any more. Sharp is a UFA after this year
Oduya: Another Dallas Star, Oduya is a UFA after this year which fits well with what Chicago is looking for. Oduya has been hurt so a team trading for him will be taking a little bit of a risk. He also carries a 3.75MM cap hit which would be a tricky situation for Stan Bowman, but not one he can’t overcome.
Dennis Wideman: Wideman is another UFA and carries a high cap hit of 5.25MM. He would be able to slot in on the 2nd or 3rd pairing. He’s averaged over 20 minutes a game this season so he can eat the minutes if need-be. He’s a decent defender but I’m not sure Calgary would do this deal, as it would signal them giving up on the season even though they are in the first wild-card spot. Calgary is still a couple years away though and acquiring assets is important in their stage of development. Wideman has a NMC so at the end of the day he could choose to nix a deal even if all of the other hurdles were conquered.
Everything is such a mess with the point system that there are way more buyers than sellers. It is probably going to be an over-pay if any deal gets done at the deadline. The Wild just changed the whole market with the Hanzal Trade.
At the end of the day I think Chicago is done unless it is for a depth defenseman who spends the majority of the playoffs in the press box.