It’s the trade rumor that never dies: The Chicago Blackhawks and Montreal Canadiens are reportedly in talks for a deal involving forwards Artem Anisimov and Alex Galchenyuk
The Montreal Canadiens want to move Alex Galchenyuk quite badly this offseason. The Chicago Blackhawks are determined to overhaul a majority of their roster. The result of these two separate ideologies? A possible huge trade.
First discussed on social media in the middle of June, the idea would be that the Blackhawks send forward Artem Anisimov plus either another player or some package of draft picks (or a combination) for Habs forward Galchenyuk. Hockey Buzz’s John Jaeckel suggested today this trade possibility could be back on the table.
Jaeckel’s digging resulted in this series of tweets an hour later:
So this leaves us where we started with the rumor, really: having it be just a rumor. But it’s certainly an interesting one for a Blackhawks team that seems noncommittal as to what it wants to be in 2017-18. (For more on that, read Jeff Franklin’s piece on Blackhawk Up from today.)
Roughly two weeks ago, I mocked up a post about the Blackhawks listening to the Canadiens about moving Galchenyuk. Even though Galchenyuk has been a really solid forward for his team in just five NHL seasons, the Habs seem gunshy about the possibility of having to pay him big bucks down the road. So they’re trying to sell high.
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The downsides of this deal
Well, this would be a really interesting decision made by general manager Stan Bowman should he find a way to acquire Galchenyuk. Assuming Anisimov is the major name to go in that trade, the Blackhawks would be even more severely hampering their center depth for 2017-18.
Jonathan Toews is obviously the No. 1 center, but things get brutal after that. Marcus Kruger was dealt to the Vegas Golden Knights yesterday, and the other centers right now are some combination of Tanner Kero, Nick Schmaltz, Tommy Wingels and whatever else can be drummed up from the Rockford IceHogs.
Anisimov isn’t great at faceoffs, but as far as everything else that goes into being an NHL center, Anisimov is solid. He’s been the No. 2 center the Blackhawks have been looking for to pair with Patrick Kane. He plays a fine defensive game typically surrounded by guys who are focused on offense. He was set for a breakout season in 2016-17 before suffering an injury.
Sure, Anisimov is 29 years old compared to Galchenyuk’s 23 years of age. But the elder statesman is likely going to be cheaper long term. Anisimov currently carries a $4.55 million cap hit, while Galchenyuk is due a new deal that will likely see him get a boost from the $2.8 million cap hit he carried each of the last two seasons.
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Galchenyuk is certainly the superior offensive player (we’ll get to that), but he’s a wash in the faceoffs department compared to Anisimov. Galchenyuk has started taking regular draws each of the last two seasons and posted percentages of 47.9 and 42.7.
Also, what else would the Blackhawks have to give up to acquire Galchenyuk? Could it potentially hamper the team’s future (major draft picks) for a commodity the Habs are likely selling high on?
The upsides of this deal
Normally, I go with the positives before the negatives in posts like this. But I wanted to end this on a happier note, because I’d be really intrigued by the Blackhawks’ future should they acquire Galchenyuk.
Bowman’s trading of Niklas Hjalmarsson, Artemi Panarin and Kruger allowed the team to get younger and less cap-strapped for the future. Adding Galchenyuk in place of Anisimov would ony serve that purpose further.
It could be a risky proposition with Kane and Toews likely in their prime years already. Bowman seems to realize this, hence the additions of guys like Patrick Sharp, Lance Bouma and Wingels. But adding young, high-ceiling pieces to the equation could work wonders down the road.
Galchenyuk is a speedy but sizable forward at 6-foot-1, 210 pounds. He had at least 44 points each of the last three seasons, and the 44 he achieved in 2016-17 was done in just 61 games. Galchenyuk has a career Corsi-for of 50.8 percent, a slight uptick from Anisimov’s 50.2.
He’s probably a better fit to play alongside Kane than Anisimov is as well. Anisimov gets to those dirty areas but isn’t so much of a playmaker. The same cannot be said for Galchenyuk, who had at least 26 assists each of the last three seasons.
Would it be a risk for the Blackhawks to move Anisimov for Galchenyuk? Absolutely. But if the Blackhawks are seriously going at the “getting younger” thing, and there’s a feasible deal on the table, you may have to take a long, hard look at it.
Of course, as I finish typing this up, Jaeckel reports this:
Maybe the Canadiens want Brent Seabrook instead?