The Chicago Blackhawks could be making a major shakeup to the roster that would involve the departure of a core player very soon.
It’s uncertain which player will be dealt, but 670 The Score’s Jay Zawaski seems to believe a trade is looming. Zawaski added some more details regarding what he’s been hearing.
— Jay Zawaski (@JayZawaski670) June 10, 2017
The only definite points in Zawaski’s report (we’ll get to Kruger later) is that the trade will not involve Toews. However, this deal will hurt the Hawks immediately. Who does that leave as potential trade bait? It’s safe to assume Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Artemi Panarin and Corey Crawford are all safe and nobody will take Marian Hossa’s contract.
That leaves Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Artem Anisimov as the key players who could be the most exposed.
Seabrook is obviously the ideal person to deal despite his affinity among the fan base. He’s entering the second year of a brutal eight-year extension that he signed in 2015. However, Seabrook has shown signs of regression the past two seasons and is 32 years old. Just imagine what he’ll look like come 2024.
This won’t be easy to swallow, but the Hawks should try to get Seabrook off the books at all costs. The compensation is less of a concern, as Seabrook’s $6.875 million average annual salary is hampering the organization.
As we saw with the Bryan Bickell trade, a sacrificial lamb (Teuvo Teravainen, in that case) might need to be offered to get a deal done.
HockeyBuzz.com’s John Jaeckel reports he’s heard rumors suggesting the Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs might be interested in working out a deal for Seabrook. Vancouver has more than $17 million in salary cap space, while the ascending Leafs have a bit more than $12 million in cap room.
Hjalmarsson might present the most value to prospective trade partners. He has only two years remaining on his contract and is still a great defender. Shedding his $4.1 million average salary would give the team some precious breathing room financially, but it would deal a serious blow to Chicago’s odds of winning it all next season.
Anisimov has gelled well with Kane and Panarin on Chicago’s explosive second line. However, he was exposed in the faceoff dot and the Hawks could probably find a serviceable partner between Kane and Panarin for cheaper than $4.55 million.
As for Kruger, it appears his tenure in Chicago will end after seven seasons. He has two years left on his contract and will make $3.083 the next two seasons. All indications seem to be Kruger will wind up with the Las Vegas expansion team and Jaeckel reports a deal is likely.
This annual dump is something Blackhawks fans should be accustomed to now. Two years ago, the team dealt Patrick Sharp to Central Division rival Dallas and let plenty of other contributors from the 2015 Stanley Cup team leave. Last year, Teravainen was sacrificed to get Bickell off the books in a trade to the Carolina Hurricanes.
Rumors are buzzing about the Hawks with just a couple of weeks until the team hosts the 2017 NHL Draft at the United Center. As recent history as shown us, when there’s smoke, there tends to be a fire.