Chicago Blackhawks Roundtable: Crow’s Health And Trade Pieces

CALGARY, AB - FEBRUARY 3: Dougie Hamilton
CALGARY, AB - FEBRUARY 3: Dougie Hamilton /
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DALLAS, TX – DECEMBER 21: Corey Crawford
DALLAS, TX – DECEMBER 21: Corey Crawford /

Tim Martens

Question 1: Unless the Blackhawks go on a crazy run here and rattle off seven or eight straight wins, I think Corey Crawford should be shut down for the year. The ‘Hawks currently sit five points back from the last wild-card spot and would need to jump four different teams in order to make the playoffs.

While five points doesn’t seem like a lot, there are only 30 regular-season games to make up that ground, and every game the team leaves points on the table, they dig that hole they are trying to crawl out of a little deeper.

This is not the first time Crawford has had a head injury that has had him missing significant time. Colin Likas wrote a piece about how Crawford may even have to consider hanging up the skates with all of the head injuries he has had over the years and the long-term damage these injuries could have for him.

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With this long history of head injuries, I wouldn’t want to risk Crawford coming back even a minute too soon. If Crawford is going to be in your plans for the future (and he does have a contract through the 2019-2020 season that has a no-movement clause), then I feel it is best to chalk up this season to being a retooling year and shut Crawford down to be ready for the 2018-19 season.

Question 2: I think the question is how hard the Blackhawks are willing to sell. There are obviously some big trade pieces on this team that could be very intriguing for another franchise if the players were to waive their no-movement clauses. But let’s assume Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith are all in the future plans for the franchise, as they should be.

Taking out those pieces, and excluding the younger players who have shown a lot of promise this season, I would say Artem Anisimov or Ryan Hartman would be the best trade chip the ‘Hawks would be willing to offer right now.

Anisimov does have a no-movement clause and three more years on his contract after this season, but a quality center is something a lot of teams in contention are looking for near the trade deadline, and Anisimov has proven he can add a good deal of offense to any team. He may not be the best at faceoffs, but he is strong in front of the net and has good vision on the ice to find his linemates and contribute on the scoresheet.

However, if a team isn’t looking to add a longer contract at the deadline (which is totally understandable), Hartman may be a piece they would take a shot on. The Blackhawks have a number of young forwards on the team in Nick Schmaltz, Alex DeBrincat, Anthony Duclair and David Kampf, and it appears Dylan Sikura will be joining the team before the season ends.

With all of these young players on the team who will soon need to get a bigger contract, Hartman could be the odd man out in Chicago. Hartman will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season and is only 23 years old. He scored 19 goals last year and has seven goals and 14 assists so far this season. The former first-round pick could be enticing as a young bottom-six forward for a team in contention as he plays with an edge and is willing to go to the hard areas on the ice.

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While the Blackhawks may not want to move on from a young player who hasn’t fully developed yet, when watching Hartman night in and night out, it feels like there isn’t much more to the ceiling for him. Where Schmaltz, DeBrincat and Duclair feel like there may be a lot more to their game as they develop, Hartman may never be more than what he is right now. The ‘Hawks may feel the same way, and if so, now would be the best time to get the most value for him.

Steve Yatsushiro

Question 1: The reality is the ‘Hawks’ season is either done, or if they somehow squeak into the playoffs, they will not advance.  The ‘Hawks demonstrated in the last two games that they are either not good enough or the will to win is not there.  And to this point, the ‘Hawks should sit Corey Crawford for the rest of the season.

Crawford has been their best player along with Patrick Kane for the past three seasons.  He should have been the Conn Smythe winner in 2015.  Since he is so vital to the team’s success, they must accept their fate this season, shelter him from further injury and get ready to reload for next season.

Of course, if the ‘Hawks miraculously start playing like champions, win the next six games and climb into the second wild card spot (highly doubtful), then they’d have to go all in and activate Crawford.

It would mean that they have finally jelled.  But as I already mentioned, losing to Vancouver and Calgary showed that at this point in the season, they are just not good enough.  I expect their up-and-down play to continue.  Without the crutch of a superior goalie in Crawford, they can evaluate what pieces they want to keep going forward.

Question 2: The ‘Hawks biggest trade pieces are Alex DeBrincat and Nick Schmaltz, as they are young stars with controlled entry level contracts. However, no sane general manager would trade either player unless the return was a young NHL top-three defenseman.

The ‘Hawks have to rebuild, so retaining these young stars is what they need to do. So, the biggest realistic trade piece is Artem Anisimov. He is under contract until 2021 for $4.55M, which is great value for a top-six center with size and skill.

For the past two seasons, he has been a 20-goal scorer with almost-gaudy double-digit shot percentages. He was on pace to repeat this year until missing a bunch of games. This type of production and size is an asset the ‘Hawks should be reluctant to part with, and a contending team this year would also covet his value and give up young assets in return.

Next: Jonathan Toews' Contract Doesn't Equal Production

By the time the current youngsters (such as Henri Jokiharju, Blake Hillman, Chad Krys, Andrei Altybarmakyan, Artur Kayumov, Tim Soderlund) are ready to compete, Anisimov would be well into his decline. So at age 29 and at his peak, trading him now during a rebuild would be the smart thing to do.