The Chicago Blackhawks are a threat to become the first repeat Stanley Cup champion since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998. But the Blackhawks have two areas that could use some depth: left wing and defense.
The needs of the Blackhawks bring us to the New York Rangers, who are in a unique position. As of today they are in the playoffs, but might need to “soft sell” by trading someone like defenseman Keith Yandle. Yandle was acquired from the Arizona Coyotes last season at the trade deadline for a king’s ransom. The Rangers gave up Anthony Duclair, John Moore, a 2015 second-round pick and a protected 2016 first-round pick. The Coyotes sent back Yandle, defenseman Chris Summers and a fourth-round pick in 2016.
Here is their dilemma: The Rangers need Yandle, and they also cannot let him walk for nothing. Yandle is one of their top defensemen and is very vital to their Stanley Cup championship hopes. He is also an impending free agent, and the Rangers will not have the cap space to freed up to keep him past this season.
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Yandle makes sense for the Blackhawks because he is a puck-moving defenseman and can score goals from the blue line. He would be able to pair with Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Yandle’s cap hit is $2,625,000, which would fit in perfectly with the Blackhawks’ salary cap situation. Now the question is what the Rangers’ price tag will be.
Some have speculated he will cost a first- or second-round pick. My guess would be at least two high picks or a high pick and a prospect. My baseline is Andrej Sekera, who Los Angeles got from Carolina last season for a conditional first-rounder and Roland McKeown. The Blackhawks acquired Kimmo Timonen for a second-round pick in 2015 and a conditional fourth-rounder in 2016.
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Craig Custance and others are speculating that Yandle will be a target of the Blackhawks. Yandle makes sense in my mind … but I do not think the trade will happen. The Rangers are not going to sell Yandle unless the fall way down in the standings or get an “offer they cannot refuse.” Yandle will not become a member of the Blackhawks, and neither will Eric Staal, the Carolina forward being another recent rumored trade piece.
The Blackhawks did have scouts at the Carolina-Calgary game earlier this week, per NHL trade rumors.The Blackhawks will have $3,571,038 in cap space on deadline day, per General Fanager. The deadline is February 29.
What move or moves will the Chicago Blackhawks make at the deadline? Let us know what you think in the comments.