The wheel of time is a finicky thing, especially in a parity league such as the National Hockey League. The Boston Bruins have great building blocks and established pieces on their roster, but few predicted that they'd be back into contender status so soon, after falling off the wagon these past couple of years.
For the Chicago Blackhawks, it's perhaps even more interesting. A poor showing in last year's playoffs left GM Stan Bowman and his team searching for answers. The team heralded as the dynasty of the decade after winning 3 cups in 6 years between 2010 and 2015 was still considered one of the best in the league, and a shoe-in to make the playoffs again in 2018.
Yet, they find themselves 4 points out of a playoff spot, with three other teams ahead of them vying to get into a wildcard spot. 4 points is far from insurmountable, but with the way their season has gone, and the competition they have in front of them, it will be one heck of a race to the finish line. This isn't a spot they saw themselves, not at this point in time.
They decided to bring back Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp, in the hopes of rebuilding the chemistry from their best years earlier this decade.
But the strategy up to now has failed, particularly in the case of the veteran Sharp.
Sharp has only 13 points to his name in 45 games, and was scratched a couple times. The sharp shooter only has 6 goals, and while everyone knew he was past his prime, there were still higher expectations surrounding him.
The Bruins go into the trade deadline as clear buyers, but the Hawks' position come February 26th will be hard to determine - so much so that we might not even know by the time that day comes. It generally depends on a team's path to the playoffs, and whether they are likely to make it or not. If Chicago is still in this position come the end of February, they may make some minor additions, but they will not make any major moves to the roster, in the hopes of making the post-season.
However, if they fall further out of a playoff spot, they will likely sell off players with some value, and bite the bullet this season. Sharp is the prime candidate to be traded.
Boston Globe's Fluto Shinzawa discusses the Bruins' dire need for a second-line winger, and lists Sharp as a viable candidate to be traded East. He also lists Thomas Vanek and Mike Hoffman, but they may not be the best fits. Vanek is having a great year but his style of play may not fit well with the Bruins' structure. Hoffman would be a great pickup, but the price will be exorbitant if the Ottawa Senators are to trade him within the division. It's just too unlikely.
Sharp represents the best option of the 3, and while his offense has dried up this year, he has a ton of playoff experience, and good experience at that. He's won multiple Stanley Cups and has a knack for scoring big goals. The price will certainly not be high for his services, in fact it should be the lowest of the three. A 2nd or 3rd round pick should be more than sufficient.
Boston fans - how would you like to see Sharp in a Bruins uniform?
Blackhawks fans - do you think trading Sharp is the right course of action?