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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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WINNIPEG, MB – APRIL 1: Bryan Little
WINNIPEG, MB – APRIL 1: Bryan Little /

Center

After Toews and Anisimov, there are major questions facing the Blackhawks at center. Trading away Marcus Kruger, the Blackhawks now look like they will be starting two of either Tanner Kero, Nick Schmaltz, or Vinnie Hinostroza. This is less than optimal.

Seeing the ‘Hawks may not be able to produce any offense after their top two lines, Stan Bowman may take a look at adding a center that can pick up the third line (also allowing Schmaltz to play left wing with Kane) and make Chicago a more complete team.

(Note: There are a lot of centers 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 Joe Thronton or Henrik Sedin in this list as I don’t believe the ‘Hawks will be able to make the money work with their current contracts.)

Matt Duchene, COL– Alright, I put Duchene on the list so you could have the thrill of this as an actual possibility, but let’s be very clear: there is almost no way this happens. Duchene is the only player in this article with a non-expiring contract, but GM Joe Sakic has made it more than clear that Colorado will listen to offers for the center. Sakic has stuck to his guns, however, and not traded off Duchene for less than his asking price, and that price is likely much more than the ‘Hawks can give to acquire Duchene. You could guess a current player (which the ‘Hawks would need to give anyway to fit Duchene’s $6 million tag on the roster), a prospect, and several picks are the very least you would give up to acquire him. And yes, the positive Corsi-for percentage on a terrible team, 41 points, and 62.6% face-off percentage Duchene accumulated last season would be unbelievable to add to the roster, but it would likely come at much too high a cost for Bowman to be willing to pull the trigger.

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Valtteri Filppula, PHI– Filppula’s $5 million contract is right around the cusp of what the ‘Hawks will have free up when Hossa is placed on LTIR, but the hit will be reduced with each passing game that Filppula plays in Philadelphia next season. If the Flyers have a tough go of it, they could look at moving the 33 year-old. Filppula totaled 42 points between Tampa Bay and Philadelphia last year and has averaged a solid 0.54 points per game over his career. His 47.8% face-off percentage in 2016-17 was a drop from his career 51.2%, but even that bad year would have been an improvement on Anisimov’s 45.1% or Tanner Kero’s 44.4%. Filppula has been a consistent center over his 12-year career and would fit in nicely as a third-line center that can push offense and play both ways.

Bryan Little, WPG– One of the more intriguing center options out there for the Blackhawks would require an inner-division trade, but that’s something that has been done between these two teams before. Bryan Little will be 30 this coming November, and if the Jets are sellers, the ‘Hawks should be buyers. While Little did only play 116 games over the last two years due to injury, he is a solid two-way center that tallied 47 points in just 59 games last season. His 0.64 PPG is even more impressive when you place it with Corsi-for percentages of 50.9%, 54%, 54.1% and 53.8% over the last four years and a face-off percentage of 55.6% and 51.3% the last two seasons. I really don’t know if the Jets would make Little available, even if they are having a terrible year, but if they do, the Blackhawks will at least need to be one of the many teams that calls and finds out how much it would take to acquire him.

Mikael Backlund, CGY– Let’s have a little fun and say that Calgary, who is poised to have a very strong roster next year, ends up out of the playoff race come March. And let’s have a little fun and say that Backlund and Calgary grow to despise each other in early contract extension talks and there is no chance of them making a deal. Throw in that Stan Bowman is able to come up with a package of prospects and picks that interest Calgary enough to trade away Backlund. Then, and only then, we can all dream about having the fourth place Selke finisher who had 53 points and a 55% Corsi-for last year manning the third-line for the ‘Hawks next season. But, really, the Flames have cap space and they want to keep Backlund. Never say never, but let’s not hold our breath.

Kyle Turris, OTT– Turris fits into the Backlund category of pretty unlikely, but the difference comes in Ottawa’s ability to resign him after 2017-18. If the Senators are not in the playoff hunt (there’s the unlikely part), they may see the small amount of cap space they have, the pending raise they will need to give Erik Karlsson, and the raise that Turris is due and decide trading him away to get something in return is there best option. If so, Turris’s $3.5 million is easily in the range the Blackhawks could take on if they come up with the best package to acquire Turris from Ottawa. Turris finished last season with 55 points in 78 games and was 53.1% from the dot. Again, pretty unlikely scenario, but it would be a very good player to add for a playoff run.

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