McNeill On The Market?
With the NHL Entry Draft just hours away and the trade window opening up for just a weekend, the Chicago Blackhawks have themselves in a salary cap jam that has the likes of Andrew Shaw, Marcus Kruger, and now Mark McNeill are in the middle of possible trade talks.
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News broke early on Thursday that the Blackhawks could be shopping McNeill:
McNeill, 23, has spent the entirety of his time with the Blackhawks organization playing with the Rockford IceHogs in the AHL. All but one game for McNeill’s professional career has been with the IceHogs and he has tallied 129 points (66 Goals, 63 Assists) in his 215 AHL games.
McNeill’s past two seasons with the IceHogs saw him put up 23 and 25 goal seasons respectively. While his scoring ability at the AHL level is unquestioned, his all-around game hasn’t been up to par for what Joel Quenneville and the Blackhawks were expecting out of McNeill. A First-Round pick by Chicago in 2011, McNeill has seen NHL ice just once in his professional career.
To go off of Chicago Sun-Times writer Mark Lazerus’ point, the Blackhawks over the last two seasons have had quite the logjam when it came to the Center position. Obviously top-end talent like Jonathan Toews, Artem Anisimov, and Brad Richards wouldn’t budge to give McNeill a shot, but players in the bottom-six rotation have given the Blackhawks a good look at the positions depth. Outside of Marcus Kruger, the Blackhawks have seen Teuvo Teravainen, Andrew Shaw, Tanner Kero, Dennis Rasmussen, and Phillip Danault play significant minutes at Center. McNeill hasn’t been able to break through and now it seems his time with the Blackhawks organization is running short.
As a restricted free agent this off-season, McNeill’s cap hit was $863,333 and earned himself over $700,000 in performance bonuses over the length of his entry-level deal. On the market, McNeill could garner close to the $1 million range and for Chicago to offer McNeill a contract with that kind of cap hit, he would have to have more than just one NHL game under his belt.
If McNeill is dealt during the Draft, it would be another top-pick in the Stan Bowman era that didn’t work out the way many had hoped as Kyle Beach never panned out, Kevin Hayes never signed, and Dylan Olsen, Teravainen, and Danault have all been traded.
The rumor mill is winding up and the NHL Entry Draft is just a few short hours away, it will be interesting to see if McNeill and other Blackhawks have new addresses once the dust settles and the trade window closes at the end of Saturday night.
So what do you think? Should the Blackhawks deal McNeill or give him one more year to prove his NHL worth? Let us know in the comment section below.
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