While the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning get ready for the Stanley Cup Final, the rest of the league is preparing for a hectic and short offseason. In this week’s episode, we will discuss some of the moves the Chicago Blackhawks might make this summer on the trade market and who we want to see them draft next month.
Join us Tuesday morning when the newest episode drops. Our Blackhawks writing crew of Greg Boysen, Brooke LoFurno, Shaun Filippelli, and Gail Kauchak will be offering their takes on some possible offseason trades, the NHL Entry Draft, Stanley Cup Final and more.
Trade Winds Are Blowing
The Blackhawks currently have 23 forwards under contract with six pending restricted free agents. If all of them are re-signed, that will give them 47 total NHL contracts before heading into free agency. The limit is 50 per team, and usually, teams like to go into the season with a couple to spare for in-season flexibility. With that being said, we are likely to see some trades heading into the Expansion and Entry Drafts. Of the 23 forwards under contract and the six RFAs, which two do you think will not be in Chicago when training camp opens?
I think Dylan Strome and Ryan Carpenter. Strome because he seems to have fallen out of favor with the team, and they may want to get something for him in a trade this offseason. I think Carpenter because the team has a lot of bottom-six forwards, which may make him expendable in Chicago’s eyes.
I’m on record as saying I believe the Blackhawks will lose a forward in the expansion draft. It appears the Seattle Kraken has better defense options elsewhere, so they will be targeting a forward from Chicago. I believe the Blackhawks will be forced to expose some forwards, including Carpenter, David Kampf, and Adam Gaudette. Of those three, Gaudette seems like the most alluring option for the Kraken.
For my second forward to leave the Blackhawks, I’m thinking one of the minor league guys will be wrapped into a trade package for another defenseman for the Blackhawks. It depends on the needs of the team involved in the trade, but pick one of Matej Chalupa, Reese Johnson, Evan Barratt, Tim Soderlund, Mikael Hakkarainen, Michal Teply, Andrei Altybarmakyan or Josh Dickerson. Jakub Pour and Josiah Slavin are likely safe, as they are new acquisitions.
But I hope it’s not Altybarmakyan; I’m looking forward to spelling that lovely name a bunch in the future! Alty-bar-mak-yan.
I think Strome has played his final game in a Blackhawks uniform. His tenure in town has been a roller coaster, to say the least. He has dealt with injuries and inconsistent play and was moved from center to the wing. It is apparent that he has fallen out of favor with head coach Jeremy Colliton as he was a healthy scratch down the stretch. I think it is time to move on.
I also think Brett Connolly will not be a part of Blackhawks’ training camp. Whether he is taken by the Kraken, traded, or has the final two years of his contract bought out, he just doesn’t fit the team’s long-term plans.
Of their forward group specifically, I’m drawn to isolating Dickinson and Kampf as the two RFAs that wouldn’t make the cut from the group that is waiting to secure their spot with the Blackhawks.
Dickinson, because it feels like he may have been a throw-in from the Colorado Avalanche when Chicago sent Carl Soderberg back their way, as it would seem like the rights to Ryder Rolston was the main target in that trade. And Kampf because he may just be a victim of a numbers game. Despite being the Blackhawks’ most successful face-off taker, his talents can seemingly be replaced and improved upon by others who can slot into the void he’d leave. Plus, Chicago has to anticipate that their success at the dot will improve with all others finding much-needed progress in that respect anyway.
Another Possible Trade Target
We have talked a lot about the Blackhawks needing a No. 1 defenseman. The two names we have already discussed are free-agent Dougie Hamilton and the possible trade for Seth Jones. However, both of them might be too pricey to acquire.
Another name flying under the radar is Matt Dumba of the Minnesota Wild. While he might not be a true No. 1 defenseman, would you like to see the Blackhawks acquire him if they can’t land Hamilton or Jones?
Yes, I would take Dumba, heck, anyone is better than what the Blackhawks have now. What makes Dumba interesting is that the Blackhawks were considered a “dark horse” in the Dumba trade talk last year. So, I think he could be a real possibility if there was interest in the first place, which seems very plausible in Chicago’s case.
Dumba’s under contract for $6 million for the next two seasons. That’s steep when you’re not really talking about a No. 1 defenseman. While the Blackhawks are said to be in the running for both Hamilton and Jones, I think there will be other teams that eventually make better offers for their services.
With that being said, I’d lean towards acquiring an older defenseman who might be willing to sign for less money and for just a few years. This would give the Blackhawks’ younger defensive prospects more time to get up to speed and give the team more flexibility in the future. A name like Alec Martinez of the Vegas Golden Knights comes to mind.
While I would prefer Hamilton and Jones over Dumba, I’d surely welcome him into the mix. Hamilton will prove to be too pricey for the Blackhawks. When it comes down to a trade, there is more value in a deal for Dumba than Jones. They are the same age and when you look at the numbers, there is not much difference. They have nearly identical career Corsi for percentages and point per game rates. Jones averages more blocked shots per season, but Dumba hits more.
Any trade for Jones will likely have to come with an extension agreement as he has just one more year in his current contract. Dumba’s deal has two more years on it. Additionally, the Blackhawks will likely have to give up fewer assets to acquire Dumba. Plus, if you extend him after two seasons, whatever he makes will be cheaper than Jones’ next extension. In summation, it would be cheaper to bring Dumba, and he will make less money while giving pretty much the same production as Jones. Plus, as I mentioned in my recent Players Grade article, the Blackhawks need to find a long-term partner for Adam Boqvist, and he fits the bill. I am in favor of making a deal for Dumba instead of Jones.
Personally, I’d rather avoid spending any more than is necessary at the moment, given where the Blackhawks are in this rebuild. Whether that be in the form of financials or shipping off assets. To me, they aren’t yet at a point where a No. 1 defensemen will move the needle enough to justify that type of move.
There are still prospects waiting to prove what they can do and I’d rather see them develop alongside the rest of the team to get a true sense of the progress potential of this group. Then, as they get closer to contending collectively, we’ll have a better idea of what’s missing and can rationalize going after that specific piece of their puzzle. Besides, we’re talking about potential acquisitions in their late-twenties, who might be on the other side of 30 by the time this team is truly ready to contend again.
Who’s Your Guy?
Finally, now that the Stanley Cup Final is set, 30 other teams are focusing on the Entry Draft. Which player are you hoping the Blackhawks take with the 11th overall pick?
Brooke: Mason McTavsih
Gail: Best player available!
Greg: Jesper Wallstedt
You will have to tune on Tuesday morning to find out why we want to add these guys to the Blackhawks roster. In the meantime, don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel and like us on Facebook. And for your viewing pleasure, here is our most recent Blackhawks Banter episode.