Maple Leafs’ 2022-23 Trade Targets: Chicago Blackhawks

Let’s drop the puck on episode three of Toronto Maple Leafs’ 2022-23 Trade Targets. After stops with the Anaheim Ducks and Edmonton Oilers, we make way to the Windy City and uncover some trade candidates from the Chicago Blackhawks. The rebuilding Blackhawks sit near the bottom of the NHL standings with a 6-11-4 record on the season. There’s no doubt general manager (GM) Kyle Davidson is going to be active on the trade market and with a trade history with Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas, fans could very well see another deal between the two storied franchises in the coming weeks.

While most of Leafs Nation is yelling “Patrick Kane or nobody,” admittedly it’s very unlikely fans see Kane or Jonathan Toews, for that matter, end up in a Maple Leafs’ uniform. With that being said, let’s see who else the Blackhawks have to offer:

Jake McCabe

If Jake Muzzin’s career is in jeopardy, the Maple Leafs need to consider replacing him not only for the rest of this season but beyond. Jake McCabe is a viable replacement. McCabe plays a similar style, he’s younger, has a cheaper cap hit at $4 million per season and he’s signed through the 2024-25 season.

Jake McCabe Chicago Blackhawks
Jake McCabe, Chicago Blackhawks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

McCabe plays the game tough and angry, and would bring some much-needed sandpaper to the Maple Leafs defense core. This season, he’s leading the struggling Blackhawks’ defense in plus/minus and looking back to last season, he recorded a team-leading 166 hits and added a whopping 167 blocked shots, good for second on the team. To give fans an idea, he would have ranked first on the Maple Leafs in both categories and registered 61 more blocks last season than any other Maple Leaf.

McCabe checks a lot of boxes for the franchise and is a player whose game suits the battles of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Funny enough, he’s yet to appear in a Stanley Cup Playoff game, but he does have 446 career NHL games under his belt, most of which came as a member of the struggling Buffalo Sabres franchise.

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The Blackhawks blueliner is currently playing over 19 minutes of ice time a night, including an average of 2:18 per game shorthanded. McCabe would be a perfect replacement for Muzzin; Dubas and company should consider the move.

The only downside here is McCabe is prone to injuries. He never played a full 82-game season since coming into the NHL in 2013-14. This trade is likely only made if Muzzin’s career is in jeopardy, which fans will find out more on come February before the trade deadline.

Andreas Athanasiou

The Maple Leafs are currently using Calle Jarnkrok as their second-line left winger and if this short-term solution doesn’t find consistent production over the course of these next few weeks, the Maple Leafs should consider a move for Blackhawks’ speedster Andreas Athanasiou.

Andreas Athanasiou Chicago Blackhawks
Andreas Athanasiou, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Athanasiou is a pending free agent who is surely to be moved by the Blackhawks. His price tag is a bit rich at $3 million for this season, but Chicago is likely ok with retaining some salary if it means the trade return is sweetened.

Athanasiou is second on the Blackhawks with six goals and is someone who has reached 30 goals in his career. He sees the majority of his special teams play on the power play and excels most in a top-six role. Having his speed and finishing abilities to complement John Tavares and Mitch Marner would be fun to watch. It would also allow the team to move Jarnkrok down to the third line, a role much better suited for the checking forward.

Ideally, I feel the Maple Leafs would like to add a forward with some bite to their second line and bring a new element to their top six. Someone like how Michael Bunting plays, with an edge and enjoys trying to get the opposition off their game. Athanasiou isn’t the perfect fit, because this is lacking in his game, but he’d be an upgrade to their current situation and would allow the Maple Leafs to balance out their lineup by moving Jarnkrok down the depth chart.

Max Domi

Another Blackhawks forward who is expected to be moved before the trade deadline, Max Domi is a potential trade target of the Maple Leafs.

Max Domi Chicago Blackhawks
Max Domi, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Domi has played well in his first season in Chicago, finding himself as the team’s number-one center. The 27-year-old has registered 14 points in 21 games so far this season and is winning 57 percent of his faceoffs. While Domi packs an offensive punch, he certainly doesn’t play a “heavy” game, tallying only six hits. This is a bit worrisome if I’m the Maple Leafs as one has to wonder if his game is well suited for a grueling Stanley Cup Playoff run. Regardless, Domi showed last postseason with the Carolina Hurricanes that he has the ability to take over games and make an impact on the scoresheet. He’s also shown at times this season in Chicago that he’s not afraid to stick up for his teammates, which is all the organization can ask for.

Before Domi signed a one-year, $3 million contract with the Blackhawks last July, some believed the Maple Leafs were interested but not for this type of money. Perhaps the Leafs reconsider leading up to the trade deadline with Jarnkrok playing out of position and with the struggles of Alexander Kerfoot and Pierre Engvall, who have combined for only three goals. Domi would give the Maple Leafs a versatile option and someone who is comfortable down the middle and on left wing.

There we have it folks, another segment of Maple Leafs’ 2022-23 Trade Targets in the books. The Blackhawks are going to be sellers as the trade deadline approaches, and even though the relationship between these two GM’s has been rocky at times, another deal this time involving one of Domi, Athanasiou or McCabe could transpire between Davidson and Dubas.

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