Saturday, January 21, 2017

Blackhawks In The Thick Of Trade Rumors

By Randy Holndoner (@bhawkschatter)
For the last 10 years, the Chicago Blackhawks were among the talk come free agency in capturing the big names of the time; Brian Campbell (2008, 2016), and Marian Hossa (2010).  There were also the semi-big names; Ray Emery (2011), Michal Handzus (2012), and Brad Richards (2015).

The trade deadline and offseason transactions have been no different for them over the years; Michael Frolik (2010), Johnny Oduya (2011), Nick Leddy (2010), Viktor Stalberg (2010), and Antoine Vermette (2015).

All of these players would win at least one Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks.  Except for Richards and Vermette, all would play multiple years for the Hawks.  Stan Bowman, the General Manager for the Blackhawks, is the puppet master behind those strings.

Now, he finds himself testing the lines again as the trade deadline approaches, and two big names are at the top of the rumor mill; ex-Blackhawk, Patrick Sharp, and future Hall-of-Famer, Jarome Iginla.  Either of these wingers would find themselves along side Jonathan Toews, who has struggled this year with only 22 points (7G 15A), in 39 games.  Both of these players would be rentals as they both have expiring contracts at the end of this year.  The Blackhawks could have enough money for cap space considerations when the trade deadline approaches for either of them.  The question is, who will they have to give up, and for whom?

It is unlikely Bowman will trade away the 1st overall pick, as he has done the last two years, due to the fact that Chicago will be hosts to the 2017 NHL Entry Draft this upcoming summer. Also, last year, in an attempt to capture a 4th Stanley Cup in 7 years, he gambled big time and lost at the trade deadline last year as he sent the 2016 #1 pick, along with touted rookie, Marko Dano to the Winnipeg Jets, for ex-Blackhawk, Andrew Ladd.  Ladd never found himself, as he scored just 2 points (1G 1A), in a 7 game series, 1st round loss to the St. Louis Blues.

Instead, whispers of young defenseman, Trevor van Riemsdyk has been mentioned, along with a 3rd or 4th round draft pick.  TVR still has one year remaining at a cap hit of just $825k.  But to a Blackhawks team that just signed Artemi Panarin to a 2 year extension worth $6mil per year, they need all the space they can get going forward next year.  With young defensemen, Gustav Forsling, Erik Gustaffsson, Viktor Svedberg, and Carl Dahlstrom, sitting in the minors, they can afford to part with TVR.

But to pick between Sharp and Iginla, one would have to pick Sharp over Iginla, regardless of his 616 career goals.  Why?  Chemistry.  Any player, regardless of NHL experience, has struggled in coach Joel Quenneville's system over the years.  Trevor Daley was traded for Sharp while in Dallas in hopes to bolster the Hawks defense with some offense before the beginning of the season last year.  He never took to the system registering just six assists in 29 game and was swiftly traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins before he had a chance to have a slice of deep dish pizza.  Richards and Vermette were healthy scratches for a period while they acclimated to the system before fitting in.  It seems to take a good 20-25 games before someone new, outside of the farm system, adjusts to their play.  Is Bowman willing to risk that?  Possibly.  But Sharp knows the system.  He's won 3 Stanley Cups, and with THIS Blackhawks team.

Time will tell on which string the puppet master will pull, but one thing is for certain.  The Blackhawks will not be sitting around at the deadline.  They will be looking to find that missing cog to bring Lord Stanley's Cup back to Chicago.


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