When looking at all of the rental candidates the Chicago Blackhawks have, it’s fair to say that Ryan Carpenter isn’t the flashiest. In 39 games this season, the 31-year-old forward has five assists and sports a minus-6 rating. He’s never been an offensive juggernaut, but he is a respectable bottom-six forward who is capable of playing both center and right wing. He also plays very physically, as he already has an impressive 86 hits this season. This element of his game also would be welcomed to many teams right now.
Playoff teams are always looking to improve upon their depth, and Carpenter is the kind of player who can provide just that. If he does end up being traded, the return won’t be very big. Yet, it is still something that the Blackhawks should consider, as it’s always better to get an asset back instead of losing a player for nothing. When looking at potential landing spots for him, there are four that come to mind.
Tampa Bay Lightning
At this point of the season, the Tampa Bay Lightning have a 28-10-5 record and look to be ready to go on another Stanley Cup run. When looking at their cap space situation, they likely aren’t going to be able to bring in too many big-name players at the deadline. However, as a way to improve upon their current forward depth, they could view Carpenter as an appealing rental option.
Earlier this month, the Lightning lost Riley Nash to the Arizona Coyotes through waivers. The same thing then occurred with forward Gemel Smith, but he was claimed by the Detroit Red Wings. Those are two depth forwards the Lightning are now without, so they could be on the hunt for a new one. Carpenter is a similar player to the pair above, so perhaps they’d be open to giving up a late-round pick for him. He would give them another decent option for the bottom six.
Now, looking at the other team from the Sunshine State, the Florida Panthers could also be a nice landing spot for Carpenter. Like the Lightning, they seem destined to go on a long playoff run, and the truth is made apparent by how dominant they’ve been. At this point of the campaign, they sport a 29-9-5 record and have the first place spot in the Atlantic Division. They have some wiggle room to make a splash at the deadline, but top teams also are never shy to their depth, too.
If acquired by the Panthers, Carpenter could wiggle his way onto their fourth line. As previously stated, he is capable of playing both center and right wing. Yet, it’s still very possible that he would be an extra forward on them, as players like Eetu Luostarinen and Mason Marchment have nice surprises this season. Still, though, he would provide them with a little more grit if needed. That’s always an extra bonus come playoff time.
Even with all of the injuries the Pittsburgh Penguins have dealt with this season, they’ve been excellent. At this juncture of the campaign, they have a 27-10-6 record and are second in the Metropolitan Division. There were some concerns about this season finally being the year where they begin to fall off, but so far, that couldn’t be any further from the truth. Yet, as I mentioned, they have been dealing with injury trouble. Thus, adding depth should be a priority this trade deadline. Carpenter could be a nice option for that.
The Blackhawks and Penguins aren’t shy when it comes to making deals, either. Earlier this month, Pittsburgh traded Sam Lafferty to the Blackhawks for Alex Nylander. Now, the latter is currently playing for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League (AHL). Due to this, there technically is an extra forward spot available for Carpenter. Perhaps these two teams can connect again due to this. He also could compete for a spot in the bottom six with veteran center Brian Boyle, too.
Heading into the season, many people wondered if the Nashville Predators were on the verge of falling off. They traded players like Ryan Ellis and Viktor Arvidsson but did not make any big additions following it. Yet, all of those concerns have evaporated, as they are currently one of the top teams in the Western Conference. At this time, they have a 27-14-4 record and are second in the Central Division. With this, they should not only look to make a big splash at the deadline but also aim to improve their bottom six, too. This is where Carpenter would make sense heading there.
Although teams aren’t normally ecstatic to trade within their division, this kind of situation carries little-to-no risk. The Blackhawks are out of the playoff picture and Carpenter has an expiring contract. With that, it isn’t like he’s a top-six forward, either. Yet, it still has the potential to be a beneficial move for the playoff-bound Predators.
It will be interesting to see if the Blackhawks decide to move Carpenter before the deadline. He isn’t the kind of player who will bring in a jaw-dropping return, but it’s never bad for a rebuilding team to pile up draft picks. However, it wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing if they decided to sign him to a cheap extension, too. We will have to wait and see what comes to fruition from here, but these four teams seem like they could be in the mix.
Michael DeRosa is a contributor who covers the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks for The Hockey Writers. Since 2017, he’s written and edited for numerous websites. Besides his work for THW, you can also find him on NHLTradeRumors.me, BBallRumors.com, BaseballRumors.me, FootballRumors.me and The Rat Trick.