In his latest article for the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Blackhawks reporter Mark Lazerus highlights five players from the team that he expects to be in play before Monday’s 2pm CT trade deadline.
The selling off of assets started in earnest for Hawks general manager Stan Bowman earlier this week when he traded defenseman Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals for a 3rd round pick. Now, with just five days to go until the NHL’s annual trade freeze, who will be the next player packing their bags?
It seems like a foregone conclusion that the Hawks will look to move pending unrestricted free-agents Tommy Wingels and Jan Rutta, but don’t expect Bowman to bring in a bounty for the two rentals.
Wingels is a consummate pro and already has taken a leadership role in Chicago. He is also a versatile grinder who can play center or wing, and will be an unrestricted free-agent in the summer — exactly the type of depth player that contending teams crave.
Wingels, a 29-year-old Evanston native, has seven goals and 12 points in 54 games with the Blackhawks this season and could be a good depth pickup for a playoff contender. As for Rutta, the 27-year-old rookie has had a difficult time getting into the Hawks’ lineup, playing just 41 games this season. If Bowman can recoup some future assets for either player, he’ll have done very well for himself.
Less likely to move, but still an intriguing trade chip for Bowman is young forward Ryan Hartman. According to Lazerus:
It seems unlikely that the Hawks would be willing to part with a former first-rounder who scored 19 goals last season. But Hartman has endured a sophomore slump, with eight goals in 54 games. He will be a restricted free agent, and could command about $4 million over two years this summer. Is Bowman willing to pay that? He should be, but you never know.
The Hawks wouldn’t really give up on Hartman already, would they? The 23-year-old former 1st round pick has finally hit his stride in the NHL. Moving him now represents a GIANT risk for the Hawks.
Moving down the list, or up the list as it were, Lazerus highlights two more players who could be on the go: Artem Anisimov and Brandon Saad. While it seems unlikely that either player would be moved, you can bet that Bowman will be taking calls on both players.
For Anisimov, in particular, it seems more likely that he’ll be traded in the summer, if at all.
After July 1, the Hawks can ask Anisimov to submit a list of 10 teams he’d be willing to go to. Signed for three more years at a $4.55 million cap hit, Anisimov is a good player. But he has only succeeded in Chicago as Patrick Kane’s center. And Nick Schmaltz is now Kane’s center, and should be for years to come. Anisimov has played left wing on that line the last couple of games, but if he can’t be the productive third-line center the Hawks badly need, then his contract becomes a burden. The Hawks would be best served by trading him for picks and/or prospects, and using that cap space to improve the defense.
Maybe the more controversial decision though may come with Saad. Re-acquired by the Hawks this past offseason for Russian sniper Artemi Panarin, Saad’s return to Chicago has been an abject failure. Having said that, the youngster’s underlying numbers are still good and there’s reason to believe he’ll bounce back next season, especially if he remains on a line with captain Jonathan Toews.