This time of year, NHL teams are interested in many players. Today, the Chicago Blackhawks have been linked Radim Vrbata and Dan Hamhuis, both of the Vancouver Canucks. Vrbata would fill the void on the top line — though he is naturally a right winger, not a left winger — and Hamhuis would give the Blackhawks more defensive depth.
Vrbata, a former Blackhawk, is struggling this season but has been a consistent scorer in his career. For his career, he has 258 goals and 293 assists in 928 games. Vrbata will not make the “wow” plays, but he will provide a big body who can score on any line, preferably the first for the Blackhawks. His cap hit for this season is $5 million prorated, so in theory he would fit under the Blackhawks’ cap constraints. The Blackhawks currently have $4,325,602 million in cap space, but that is with Marian Hossa on IR. Vrbata does a have a limited no-trade clause, but the Blackhawks are not on the list of teams to which he refuses to be traded. He played in Chicago 2005-06 and 06-07.
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Vrbata would cost the Blackhawks a draft picks and maybe a prospect. The Blackhawks might have to part with a fourth-rounder and a prospect for Vrbata. Vancouver doesn’t have a fourth-round pick in the 2016 draft.
Hamhuis is a different story. While Vrabata has a limited no trade clause, Hamhuis has a full no trade clause. He would theoretically waive his no-trade clause to join a team that has a shot at the Stanley Cup. He is on the last year of a six-year, $36 million deal, so there’s no doubt the Canucks would like to get something for him now if they can’t or don’t want to re-sign him in the offseason. Hamhuis’ cap hit is $4.5 million, so he could fit right into the current cap space held by the Blackhawks.
These are just the latest rumors surrounding a Chicago team that has seen plenty of them in the past week. Former Blackhawk and current Winnipeg Jets captain Andrew Ladd has been heavily discussed as a top-line left wing option, and that rumor gained more traction when Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman was in attendance for a Jets game Tuesday. Bowman was also at a Montreal-Nashville game earlier this week, presumably looking at one or more individuals from the Canadiens.
The Blackhawks’ two biggest needs at this moment are on defense and at the top-line left wing spot. Depending on who you ask, you’ll get different answers as to which of these is a more important hole to fill. If the Blackhawks could somehow swing a package deal for both Vrbata and Hamhuis — though the price would likely make Chicago fans wretch — both of those issues would be somewhat dealt with. Still, just because the rumor is out there doesn’t mean, with 100 percent certainty, that either Vrbata or Hamhuis is coming to Chicago.
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The trade deadline is Monday afternoon, and we should expect a move or two from Bowman between now and then. With all of the rumored Blackhawks targets floating about, however, who that deal or deals would be for is very much up in the air at this time.