It may be the offseason for the Chicago Blackhawks and most of the league, but it’s a short offseason after all. The Stanley Cup Final is set to start this weekend, with the NHL Draft slated for Oct. 6 and 7 and free agency period starting Oct. 9. These later dates are just around the corner. That being said, the news and rumors keep on coming in. Here are a few things of interest I’ve come across in the last few days.
Blackhawks Asking About Kuemper
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman in his “31 Thoughts” column, the Blackhawks are one of five teams who have inquired about Arizona Coyotes’ Darcy Kuemper. The 30-year-old goaltender signed a two-year contract extension with the Coyotes this past October with a $4.5 million cap hit each season. He boasts a .928 save percentage and a 2.22 goals against average in 29 games with the Coyotes this past season, and a .913 SV% and 3.47 GAA in nine playoff contests.
For comparison, Blackhawks’ goaltender Corey Crawford recorded a .917 SV% and a 2.77 GAA in 40 games in the regular season. In his nine playoff contests, his SV% was .907, and his GAA was 3.31.
Yes, Kuemper’s numbers are a little higher, but he was also playing behind a much better defense. Now, we know it’s been rumored the Blackhawks offered Corey Crawford a one-year deal at $3.5 million. Are these negotiations going south? Friedman also reported Crawford knew he would get a pay cut, but he didn’t exactly expect it to be that much.
I’m sure general manager Stan Bowman is checking out all his options. If Crawford accepts his offer, he would be a proven commodity for a cheap price and a short term. He’s also no spring chicken at 35 years old, and with a concussion history. Kuemper would be more expensive and have a longer term. But he’s younger and shows great potential. There’s pros and cons to both options. And there could be other options we don’t know about yet. We shall see how it all plays out.
Saad: To Trade or Not To Trade
As a Blackhawks fan, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that forward Brandon Saad is the subject of incessant trade rumors. There’s the camp that feels it’s a no-brainer to move him and shed his hefty $6 million contract for salary cap purposes. Then there’s the other camp that sees the value in Saad’s all-around play and consistency. They see his continued presence as a asset to the team.
Mark Lazerus of The Athletic recently shed some light on this in his Blackhawks’ mailbag. He argues that Saad is certainly a valuable player to any team. He’s also paid a lot of money, more like a 30-goal scorer when he only averages around 20 goals. Which is why it could be difficult to find a trading partner with the current flat salary cap for the foreseeable future.
But, if the Blackhawks are out of the playoff picture at the trade deadline next season, that would be the time to get the most bang for your buck. As Lazerus further explains,
(At the trade deadline) Saad – a two-time champion who kills penalties and plays playoff-style hockey – will be one of the most sought-after players on the market. Probably better to wait until then.(from, ‘#HeyLaz Blackhawk mailbag: Was it all worth it in the end?’, The AthleticChi – 9/15/20)
Blackhawks’ Fans Choice Awards
On a lighter note, the Blackhawks are currently revealing their Fans Choice Awards from the season. This is where the fans vote on the best moments and top players from the 2019-20 campaign. So far, Dominik Kubalik has secured the best newcomer award. Scoring 30 goals in his rookie season can do that for you.
Patrick Kane’s 1000th point, which he acquired on Jan. 19 against the Winnipeg Jets, was determined as the best social moment. Kane was actually credited with the secondary assist on this play, but it didn’t deter his teammates from swarming him on the ice in celebration. Saad, who scored the goal, was essentially ignored. Such is life when your teammate is Mr. Showtime.
Andrew Shaw was recently voted as Best Instagram Follow. Other categories include: Play of the Year, Blackhawk of the Year, Best Tik Tok, Play of the Bubble and Best of the Bubble. Be sure to check out the Blackhawks’ website and their Twitter feed for all the nominees and winners in the coming days!
That’s all for now, but stay tuned. Things are bubbling up fast in this shortened offseason. We’ll keep you updated on all other Blackhawks’ news, rumors, and other tidbits as we hear them. Thanks for reading!