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Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks’ Possibilities With Marian Hossa LTIR Space

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Marian Hossa, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
Marian Hossa, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images) /
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NASHVILLE, TN – JUNE 03: James Neal
NASHVILLE, TN – JUNE 03: James Neal /

Left Wing

With Artemi Panarin heading east to Columbus in the Brandon Saad trade, there is a bit of a missing piece in the Blackhawks lineup. The ‘Hawks are currently banking on Patrick Sharp to be able to fill in and return to old form. If Sharp can come in, stay healthy, and produce with Patrick Kane, there would not be a real need for Chicago to go out and acquire a left-winger to help their second line generate offense. But in the more likely scenario that a soon-to-be 36 year-old Sharp is not able to produce at a decent level offensively or stay on the ice due to injury, the ‘Hawks may need to find another linemate for Anisimov and Kane via trade.

While the list of defenseman may have left you underwhelmed, there are actually some pretty interesting options out there to fill in for the Blackhawks at left wing, should the need arise. While a deal for a few of these rental players could cause the ‘Hawks to have to trade off a decent package of picks and prospects, Bowman may pull the trigger if the team is close enough to possibly make another run at a Cup.

Here are a few of the left-wingers who will have expiring contracts at the end of the 2017-18 season that could be potential fits for a possible void at left wing for the Blackhawks.

(Note: There are a lot of wingers out there with expiring contracts or teams that may be looking to move them, but let me prelude this list by saying I did not include Rick Nash or Daniel Sedin in this list as I don’t believe the ‘Hawks will be able to make the money work with their current contracts.)

Evander Kane, BUF– Kane’s $5.25 million contract will cost a lot of the freed up Hossa money, even after some of that money is cut out from Kane playing part of the season in Buffalo. Kane tallied 28 goals and 15 assists last season in 70 games and has averaged 0.6 points per game in his career. He certainly has a lot of offensive talent, but there may be too much baggage on the Blackhawks already for the team to want to bring in another Kane that has had some concerning incidents and accusations off-the-ice.

James Neal, VGK– As discussed with Jason Garrison, Vegas may be looking to trade off veterans in favor of draft picks and prospects, and Neal would likely be their most interesting. Neal, who will turn 30 in November, has averaged 0.71 points per game in his career as well as a career 54% Corsi-for. He was a huge part of the Predators run into the Cup Final last season and would be a fantastic option next to Anisimov and Kane. But if Neal is available, don’t expect the Blackhawks to be the only team calling Golden Knights GM George McPhee trying to get a deal done. The asking price could be too much for Bowman after a few failed years of trade deadline acquisitions.

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James van Riemsdyk, TOR– While I’m not very confident that one of the most exciting young teams in the league last year will take a step back in 2017-18, if the Maple Leafs do struggle and become sellers, van Riemsdyk could very likely be shipped off. With an abundance of young talent in Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander (just to name the kids under 21 years-old), Toronto will have plenty of big contracts they will need to pay out in the coming years. That could mean shipping out JVR for picks and prospects knowing they may not resign him at season’s end. He would be a strong addition, tallying 62 points last season, a 52.3% Corsi-for, and playing in all 82 games. At $4.25 million as well, JVR could be affordable enough to not be the only ‘Hawks deal, depending on when the trade is completed.

Josh Bailey, NYI– Much like the two Islanders defenseman discussed earlier, the Isles have a few left-wingers that have their contracts expiring at the end of 2017-18. Bailey will be 28 and on the last months of his $3.3 million contract. He had a strong 2016-17 with 56 points, a 50.7% Corsi-for percentage, and 18:22 average time on ice. If available, Bailey could be a solid option that will not take up all of the available space the ‘Hawks get from Hossa being on the LTIR.

Jason Chimera, NYI– Chimera will be 39 in May, but he was still showing some production over the last few years. Between the Capitals and the Islanders, Chimera has played all 164 games the last two years and tallied 73 points. His plus/minus (plus-1) and Corsi-for percentage (46.2%) are nothing to be excited about, but his $2.25 million contract and veteran experience could both be beneficial for a ‘Hawks team looking to make a smaller move. Chimera would not likely be a linemate for Kane, but he could fill in a third line role and give another Hawk a chance to play with Kane and not sacrifice the bottom lines.

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