Last week, Sportsnet analyst Nick Alberga jokingly tweeted that he couldn’t wait for Patrick Kane to be traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Immediately after, he reported that someone “in the know” contacted him, saying that the Blue Jackets are “a legitimate team to watch” if the Blackhawks do shop Kane. Although this should be taken with a grain of salt, what if they are interested in acquiring the veteran winger?
The Blue Jackets are a team on the rise and looking to be more competitive in 2022-23 after signing Johnny Gaudreau. If they manage to acquire Kane, they would have a lethal combination with these two American wingers. Columbus also has some pretty solid players who the Blackhawks could be interested in pursuing, so they could be a match if Kane is willing to go there. Here are a few who may interest Blackhawks general manager (GM) Kyle Davidson.
The Blue Jackets would likely need to move out salary to bring in Kane, even if the Blackhawks retain half of his salary. In that case, Gustav Nyquist would likely be the player heading the other way. The 32-year-old carries a $5.5 million cap hit until the end of the 2022-23 season, which is roughly half of Kane’s, which would make a lot of sense for Columbus.
Yet, Nyquist also has the potential to be an effective short-term addition to the Blackhawks’ forward group. At this point in his career, he still is capable of being a very good second-line winger. In 82 games with Columbus in 2021-22, he scored 18 goals and 53 points. Although those stats aren’t dominant, they are still solid and would be welcome in the Blackhawks’ top six.
Nyquist also has only one year left on his contract, making him a prime rental candidate at the 2023 Trade Deadline. If he were to thrive playing top-minutes in Chicago, he could net them a second-round pick and prospect in a deadline swap. That wouldn’t be a bad thing for their rebuild at all.
The Blackhawks are going to want at least one top prospect in return for Kane. Kirill Marchenko certainly fits that description, as he has the potential of becoming a top-six forward at the NHL level. He is also set to begin his career in North America in 2022-23, so if the Blackhawks acquire him before the start of the season, he would be in the running for a roster spot. This is especially true given that the team’s forward depth has been decimated by Davidson this offseason.
Marchenko spent this past season in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) where he scored 12 goals and 20 points. This was after a 28-point campaign in 41 games with the team in 2020-21, so he has the potential to be a solid producer. Now that the 6-foot-3 winger is set to make the jump to North America this year, it will be interesting if this will translate over to the sport’s most competitive league.
If the Blackhawks trade Kane to the Blue Jackets, it’s hard to imagine that Marchenko wouldn’t be their top target. He has the potential to be a very good long-term replacement for the future Hall-of-Famer, so he would make the most sense.
Last offseason, the Blackhawks sent Adam Boqvist to the Blue Jackets in the infamous Seth Jones trade. Chicago must regret this move now, given the team’s current state. Boqvist would have been a long-term part of the team’s rebuild, and a player to build their defense around. Yet, Davidson could be in a position to make up for former GM Stan Bowman’s mistake and bring the youngster back.
The 2018 first-round pick continues to show signs of development and just had an excellent first season with the Blue Jackets. In 52 games, he set new career-highs with 11 goals and 22 points. That kind of production from the point is certainly impressive and would be welcome with open arms on the Blackhawks’ blue line.
Boqvist would also work well in their top four and on their first power-play unit. This, in turn, could result in the 22-year-old taking that next step offensively. With all of this, in a Kane trade, Davidson should stop at nothing to get the Swedish defenseman back in Chicago.
The Blue Jackets have some pretty solid options for the Blackhawks to pursue in a potential Kane trade. Of the trio, Marchenko and Boqvist have the most potential to have a big impact on the team’s rebuild, but Nyquist also could be a good addition for the short-term. Alas, we will have to wait and see if something occurs between these two teams from here.