The Chicago Blackhawks are a team that all hockey fans will be watching closely this summer. When general manager (GM) Kyle Davidson announced that the team was starting a rebuild, it opened the door to many potential moves. So far, he has stayed true to his word, as he has traded players like Brandon Hagel, Marc-Andre Fleury, and Ryan Carpenter already. Yet, this is only going to be the beginning because we are likely going to see many other players from the team traded this summer. Let’s now discuss four potential trade candidates.
When speaking to the media earlier this month, Jonathan Toews stated that he “can’t help but picture” what it would be like playing for another team. This came after he expressed frustration over the Blackhawks trading away Hagel and the club rebuilding in general. With the longtime captain carrying a no-movement clause (NMC), he has complete control over whether or not he will be traded. Yet, after this massive comment, it seems possible that he will tell management that he wants to play elsewhere to have the chance to win again.
“For the longest time the thought never entered my mind to leave Chicago. In this case, you can’t help but picture yourself and what it would be like to play for another team and just what that experience would bring. … But, again, Chicago’s my home.”—Jonathan Toews on pic.twitter.com/1X4aQ6ib9L— Phillip Thompson (@_phil_thompson) March 23, 2022
At this point of his career, Toews is no longer producing like a top-line center. However, after a disastrous start to the season, his play has improved as the year has progressed. In 56 games, he has 10 goals to go along with 19 assists. Overall, with numbers like these, he could be a strong addition to a contender’s middle six.
Yet, the primary obstacle that could restrict Toews from getting a change of scenery is his $10.5 million cap hit. Even with his contract expiring next season, that is an immensely high salary. Yet, if the Blackhawks retain half of it, that certainly could help a move come to fruition. Doing that also could allow them to get back more in a hypothetical swap. Ideally, they would likely want at least a second-round pick and prospect in return.
Patrick Kane is the other longtime Blackhawk who is expected to talk to management about his future in Chicago this summer. Unlike Toews, he hasn’t openly stated that he is considering the possibility of playing elsewhere. Before the trade deadline, teams called about his availability, but he told teammates that he wasn’t ready to leave. However, with his contract expiring next season and the team embarking on a complete rebuild, that could change. Keep in mind, he is also their best trade asset.
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Kane easily has the potential to land the Blackhawks at least one first-round pick, multiple prospects, and a young, NHL-ready player. At this point of his career, he is still a superstar, and the truth is in his current statistics. In 63 games on the year, he has 21 goals and a very impressive 58 assists. If he states that he is open to a move, he is the kind of veteran worth trading to help the future. However, with how much of a historical figure he is to the franchise, it won’t be easy for Davidson to move him.
Dominik Kubalik was one of the biggest names in the rumor mill this deadline season for the Blackhawks. The 26-year-old was getting attention from around the league, but he surprisingly ended up staying put. However, with him being a restricted free agent (RFA) this summer, the team will still have full control over him. As a result of this, they could easily move him during the offseason. It ultimately would make sense, as if he agrees to a one-year deal with the team over the summer, he will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) in 2023.
The Blackhawks were seeking a second-round pick for Kubalik at the deadline, so that will likely be their asking price this summer. However, for them to get a return like that, they will need him to end the season on a high note. It has been a very rough year for the Czech winger, as he has just 12 goals and 13 assists in 66 contests. Keep in mind, he scored 30 goals in 68 games as a rookie only two years ago. He then followed that up with a 38-point season in 56 contests during the 2020-21 campaign. He can do more, so let’s see if he can heat up before the season is completed.
Dylan Strome is the final player to watch this summer. Last offseason, the 25-year-old was a major name in the rumor mill, but a deal did not come to fruition. Furthermore, after being a healthy scratch several times at the beginning of the season, his time in Chicago seemed to be coming to a close. However, trade talks cooled off as the year progressed because of how significantly he has bounced back since. Since being promoted to the first line again, he has looked more like the top-six center he was when the Blackhawks first acquired him.
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In 54 games this season, Strome has 19 goals and 22 assists. However, he has exploded over his last 13 games, as he has a ridiculous 10 goals and 10 assists during that span. With numbers like these, one certainly could argue that the Blackhawks should keep him. Yet, Davidson already showed this deadline season that he isn’t afraid to trade good players for the right price. If trading Strome can get them a return that benefits their rebuild, we will likely see him moved this summer.
Nevertheless, this should be a very eventful offseason for the Blackhawks. With the team in a full-on rebuild, don’t be surprised to see Davidson make an abundance of changes to their roster. Besides these four players, it wouldn’t be surprising to see more of their veterans traded, too.