What the Chicago Blackhawks are failing to accomplish this season proves that you can’t just force different names into a lineup and expect that to fix what’s broken. As such, it’s becoming increasingly evident that for the Blackhawks to extract any success out of this season then the time is now for the organization to turn into sellers. A topic you can rest assured we’ll delve into on Blackhawks Banter.
Leveraging their current inventory in a clearance sale will encourage a more fruitful future. Every member of that roster should be available, especially if the price is right. However, there are obviously some more marquee players that aren’t going anywhere, as they will continue to be pivotal pieces to build around.
That said, there’s a case to be made for certain teammates being marketed a little more aggressively than the rest. Especially given that it’s to the Blackhawks’ benefit to deal them while they can, rather than seeing each hit free agency and walk for nothing in return.
In this preview to our upcoming episode of Blackhawks Banter, Shaun Filippelli, Brooke LoForno, Gail Kauchak, and Greg Boysen will work to advertise why moving their assigned athlete needs to be Chicago’s priority focus. Regardless of where that means they’ll end up or what the club should expect in exchange.
Brooke: Dylan Stome
Moving Dylan Strome should continue to be a priority for the Blackhawks. I say “continue” because it’s alleged that the team has been trying to find him a new home dating back to last year, but that they haven’t been able to garner a good enough return.
Strome lost his place with the team a while ago. Former head coach Jeremey Colliton and current head coach Derek King have struggled to find roles for him. He has nine points in 24 games and that is not feasible for $3 million, which may play a big part in a holdup for a trade.
I believe it makes sense to swap Strome for another skilled player that needs a fresh start, like Jake DeBrusk from the Boston Bruins.
Otherwise, I think Chicago should settle for draft picks because they need the draft capital. Problem is, his trade value seems low at the moment, so they might have to settle for any type of value they could get. Strome has talent and he deserves a new opportunity for success, as do the Blackhawks.
It hasn’t worked out as hoped, and it would be foolish to delay that any longer.
Gail: Calvin de Haan
It’s a no-brainer for the Blackhawks to be shopping Calvin de Haan. They would likely get the most value for him at the upcoming trade deadline. This is when contending teams are willing to give up more assets in an attempt to bolster their rosters for a playoff run. De Haan is the perfect depth defenseman for a contending team to add.
The 30-year-old is also a 10-year NHL veteran with 37 career playoff games under his belt, so he brings experience and maturity to the table. While not especially known for his offensive play, de Haan is a reliable and consistent stay-at-home defensive defenseman.
He’s not flashy, but he’s extremely dependable. He’s recently been complementing Seth Jones well on the top pairing for the Blackhawks, but he would likely be a third pairing type of guy on a more talented team.
The affable blueliner has paid his dues and admirably done his job for three seasons now with the Blackhawks; a team that doesn’t look to be going anywhere any time soon. Why wouldn’t de Haan embrace the opportunity to join a winning culture and have a chance to earn the ultimate hockey prize with another team? And on a bigger stage, his value would likely be enhanced. It could give him the opportunity to negotiate a better contract somewhere in the offseason.
De Haan would be a loss for the Blackhawks, but they have much more depth in their system on defense than they do at the forward position. As the Blackhawks (hopefully) embrace a rebuilding future, it’s time for a younger player to step up and fill his skates.
Chicago might have to retain a chunk of de Haan’s $4.5 million cap hit, and they won’t likely get a huge return for him. But as mentioned above, they would get their best value for him at or around the deadline. They should be investing in the future, and focusing on any picks and prospects de Haan might fetch on the market.
Greg: Erik Gustafsson
If you can get a used water bottle and half a roll of stick tape for Erik Gustafsson, go for it! There is no trade value for him on the market. The Blackhawks got a third-round pick for him in 2020 from the Calgary Flames, but that was just a few months removed from his 60-point season. He should have been traded that offseason while his value was at an all-time high, but we can’t dwell on past mistakes.
The Philadelphia Flyers traded Gustafsson to the Montreal Canadiens for a seventh-round pick at last year’s trade deadline. I don’t even think the Blackhawks could get that right now.
The book is out that he’s a defensive liability, and he’s not producing points anywhere near to what he did in 2018-19, which was a total fluke. The New York Islanders cut him in training camp, which allowed Stan Bowman to bring him back. When Barry Trotz cuts you because you can’t play defense, nobody should be calling you for a contract.
The truth is, Gustafsson should have been let go the second Bowman resigned as general manager. He is wasting a roster spot. His poor defensive play outweighs the small offensive production he brings.
I would be shocked if the Blackhawks could get anything for him in a trade, so it’s time to waive him to either terminate his contract or bury him in the AHL.
Shaun: Marc-André Fleury
It would seem as though infusing the most recent Vezina Trophy winner into a team’s equation should align with an elevation for the franchise. Hockey isn’t that straightforward, though. It’s too dynamic of a game, wherein success relies on the sum of all parts. So, when the Blackhawks acquired Marc-André Fleury in an attempt to bypass necessary steps in their rebuild, things were sure to unfold in only one of two ways.
Unfortunately, despite Fleury becoming an instant fan favourite in Chicago, having him there hasn’t proven to be the missing piece necessary to lift this team into contention.
Fortunately, though, the Blackhawks basically acquired Fleury for nothing more than agreeing to pay his salary. Anything they would be able to extract out of the all-star could then be looked at as a bonus. As such, having an opportunity to sell him off before he hits the open market this offseason means they can still find a way to come out on top of this trade even more than they already had.
Despite it seeming like the 37-year-old might be nearing retirement, the fact that he continues to prove that he’s capable of Vezina-worthy performances supports that he still loves to play the game and remains ready to win. Definitely the type of goalie any club would welcome. It’s safe to say there won’t be a lack of offers for Chicago to sift through and they need to take full advantage while they still can.
What’s more, Fleury simply deserves better than what he’s experiencing in Chicago and everyone knows it. What he’s been able to accomplish throughout his nearly two decades in the NHL has already made him an all-time great. And, yet, he continues to work towards achieving even more.
Management can turn this scenario into a win for all parties involved by giving Fleury the chance to join a contender so his skill set can be better utilized than it’s been as a Blackhawk. He would immediately improve most goaltending situations throughout the league, especially those that have the rest of their rosters figured out but are just missing his type of passion and agility between their pipes.
It shouldn’t be too hard to find a suitable trade partner willing to take on his salary while giving up some prospects, draft picks, or both in return.
Tune In to Blackhawks Banter
Freelance thinker, paying too much attention to digital aesthetic. Oxford comma enthusiast. Spider-Man supporter. Sports fan, with two favourite hockey teams. If the Blackhawks and Maple Leafs ever meet in the Stanley Cup Final, you can find me wherever they’re playing that night.
Find me and more of my work at mralwayswrite.com.