Chicago Blackhawks-Montreal Canadiens Trade Steam Could Be Growing

CALGARY, AB DECEMBER 22: Artturi Lehkonen
CALGARY, AB DECEMBER 22: Artturi Lehkonen /

Going into the 2017-18 NHL season and throughout its first few months, fans and experts alike have speculated as to what certain teams need in order to hit the next level. Recently, an interesting trade scenario was mentioned involving the Chicago Blackhawks and Montreal Canadiens.

It’s no secret that this Chicago Blackhawks team, as composed, has holes. Making a move to close one hole, in theory, could open up another. General manager Stan Bowman and Co. are relying heavily on the development of young prospects all throughout the roster, and with recent improvement as a team, many are calling for the Blackhawks to be buyers at the deadline.

Rumors mill churning

The Blackhawks have obvious personnel ties with the Montreal Canadiens, being that Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin was previously the assistant GM for the Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks and Canadiens have made some moves in recent history. For example: Andrew Shaw for picks 39 and 45 in the 2016 NHL Draft; Phillip Danault and a second-round pick for Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann; and Kyle Baun for Andreas Martinsen.

Furthermore, over the summer, an Artem Anisimov for Alex Galchenyuk trade was rumored to be discussed and almost seemed imminent.

Related Story: Chicago Blackhawks Rumors: Montreal’s Galchenyuk Could Be On Move

Now, a new name is being thrown into the rumor mill in Tomas Plekanec.

This story has been reported elsewhere, you can read more here and here.

Tomas Plekanec: Who is he?

Plekanec has been in the league since the 2003-04 season, playing his entire career in Montreal. He’s been a 20-goal scorer seven different times, and his career high in goals is 29, which he amassed in the 2007-08 season. His career high in points came in 2009-10, when he had 70.

While he has never won the Stanley Cup, he has been to the playoffs in nine different seasons. Playing in 87 games, he has 16 goals as well as 49 points.

How could he help the Blackhawks?

Plekanec is a center, and the Blackhawks are in dire need of some center depth. In 956 NHL games, his faceoff percentage sits right below 50, at 49.7. His career playoff faceoff percentage sits at 51.2 percent, so it’s important to note he can keep up the good work during the most important time of the year. The Blackhawks could use another faceoff man to take the pressure off Jonathan Toews, and Plekanec could be that guy.

Playoff success is all about center depth, and a team that lines up Toews, Artem Anisimov, Plekanec and Tommy Wingels down the middle is a pretty deep team. In comparison, the centers when the Blackhawks won the Cup in 2015 were Toews, Brad Richards, Antoine Vermette and Marcus Kruger.

More from Blackhawks Rumors

While he is struggling on special teams this year, Plekanec has been extremely successful on the powerplay in the past, and he may be able to inject some offense into a lacking Blackhawks powerplay. He has 178 powerplay points in his career, and has hit 25 powerplay points in a season once in his career.

How likely is this trade?

Well, with Bowman, anything is possible, right? He essentially turned Shaw into Alex DeBrincat. But acquiring Plekanec will be no easy task. He carries a cap hit of $6 million, and you can find the terms of his contract on capfriendly. The Blackhawks have around $2,300,000 of LTIR cap space available, so some salary would have to go the other way if the Blackhawks were to acquire Plekanec.

Obviously Anisimiov has been of interest to the Canadiens in the past, and his $4.55 million cap hit would certainly allow the trade to happen. But he has a no-movement clause, and moving him doesn’t solve the issue of the Blackhawks needing a 3C.

Another large piece of salary that the Blackhawks could move would be Brent Seabrook, but that would turn into a blockbuster type deal. Looking past his NMC, no team wants his contract, and the Blackhawks would have to include a mix of NHL players, prospects and picks in the deal.

Here, the Blackhawks would have to decide if their young defensemen can keep up their impressive season into the playoffs, and if the price is worth it just to acquire a player on an expiring contract. Bowman would probably need to discuss with Plekanec what his next deal would look like, being that he has been in the league for 14 seasons already and still hasn’t won a Cup.

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The last option here is sending over picks and prospects along with a player on the NHL roster, and talking Montreal into retaining some salary. Again, the Blackhawks would have to decide if who they are sending over is worth what they are getting in return, and if Plekanec is the addition they need to get back to being a serious contender.

Because of his high cap hit and age, I really don’t see this deal happening.