Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks’ Possible Marian Hossa Contract Trade Packages

By Tim Martens
NASHVILLE, TN - APRIL 20: Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa (81) is shown during game four of Round One of the Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Nashville Predators and the Chicago Blackhawks, held on April 20, 2017, at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - APRIL 20: Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa (81) is shown during game four of Round One of the Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Nashville Predators and the Chicago Blackhawks, held on April 20, 2017, at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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It’s finally draft week, so the rumors will be coming in hot over the next few days. Let’s break down some of the latest rumblings in Chicago Blackhawks country.

The NHL draft is only four days away, which means all Chicago Blackhawks fans are on high alert, refreshing their Twitter throughout the day to see any breaking Blackhawks news. It was only a year ago that the Blackhawks executed back-to-back big name trades on draft day 2017 in trading away Artemi Panarin and Niklas Hjalmarsson while acquiring Brandon Saad and Connor Murphy

Naturally, there have been some rumors flying around lately, some of which involve the Blackhawks in what is setting up to be an aggressive offseason for Stan Bowman. Here are the two I want to look at:

Combining these two thoughts, our writers at Blackhawk Up talked throughout the weekend about possible deals that could be swung this week, and several of us think there is a chance that the Blackhawks could be packaging these pieces together.

Marian Hossa’s cap hit is still $5.275 million per year over the next three years. The Blackhawks can put Hossa on the long-term injured reserve, but that doesn’t exactly give them $5.275 million extra when working on contracts this summer and is not an optimal way to manage the salary cap when you are planning on being tight against it once again.

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Hossa actually will be making $1 million a year for whatever team will be paying his contract the next three years. A team that has cap space and wants to take advantage of the Blackhawks’ predicament could see an opportunity to take on Hossa’s contract to relieve the ‘Hawks, but also acquire the No. 8 overall pick in the upcoming draft for taking on the cap hit.

Now, obviously, the Blackhawks would need to get some players, picks or a combination of each in return. But what could a package like that look like? For reference, let’s take a look at some recent trades involving a top ten draft pick.

2017 – New York and Arizona

In 2017, the New York Rangers traded Antti Raanta and Derek Stepan to the Arizona Coyotes for the No. 7 pick in the draft and Anthony DeAngelo. Raanta posted a 16-8-2 record and had a .922 save percentage and 2.26 goals-against average a year before in New York and was even more successful upon arriving in Arizona, where he posted a 21-17-6 record, .930 save percentage and 2.24 goals against average. 

Stepan came off a season with the Rangers in which he scored 17 goals, added 38 assists and averaged 18:37 time on ice per night before joining Arizona. With the Coyotes last season, Stepan played all 82 games, scored 14 goals, added 42 assists and averaged 19:16 time on ice.

DeAngelo played 32 games with the Rangers last season after being acquired in the trade. He scored no goals, had 8 assists and was a minus-18 on the ice. The Rangers used the No. 7 pick to add Lias Andersson, a Swedish forward who ended up playing in seven games late in the year in New York, scoring a goal and adding an assist. He may be best remembered last year as the Swedish player who threw his silver medal into the crowd after a loss in the World Junior Championship Game. 

2014 – Anaheim and Ottawa

In 2014, the Anaheim Ducks found themselves drafting at No. 10 overall after having traded Bobby Ryan to the Ottawa Senators the summer before. This, of course, means neither the Ducks nor the Sens knew this was going to be a top-10 pick when the deal was finalized, but let’s take a look at the deal knowing it involved a top-10 pick.

Ottawa received Ryan, a left winger who had scored 289 points in 378 games with the Ducks. Ryan has gone on to score another 216 points while in Canada in 353 games with the Senators. 

Meanwhile, Anaheim acquired Jakob Silfverberg and Stefan Noesen, along with what ended up being the 10th pick in the 2014 draft. Noesen was a non-factor for the Ducks (though he finally had a stronger season this past year in New Jersey), but Silfverberg has been a strong role player for the team, scoring 190 points in 371 games in Anaheim since being acquired.

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With the 10th pick, the Ducks took Nick Ritchie, a left winger that has had seasons of 28 and 27 points in his first two full years in Anaheim. He is still only 22 years old and looks to have a role in Anaheim moving forward.

2013 – Vancouver and New Jersey

The Vancouver Canucks and New Jersey Devils made a one-for-one trade in the summer of 2013 when the Canucks sent Cory Schneider to New Jersey in exchange for the ninth pick in the 2013 draft. The Canucks had found themselves in a tough spot with two starting goaltenders on their roster and Roberto Luongo asking for playing time or a trade. With no one wanting to bite on Luongo’s big contract, Schneider became the piece to sell. 

While New Jersey felt it was getting the starting goaltender it needed to compete in the East, Schenider has had some injury issues and his numbers have not been off the charts with the Devils. While a .917 save percentage and 2.41 goals-against average in five years with the Devils is certainly not terrible, Devils fans may have been hoping for more when Schneider was acquired.

Meanwhile, Vancouver used the ninth pick to take Bo Horvat, a dynamic center that has shown he is part of the future in Vancouver. In 295 games thus far with the Canucks, Horvat has scored 71 goals and added 90 assists, while also having a positive 51.6 win percentage at the faceoff dot. 

Summary

With all of this in mind, you can see that the last three trades involving a top-10 pick have involved some big-name pieces in the equation (Raanta, Stepan, Ryan and Schneider). If the Blackhawks are to package Hossa’s contract with the No. 8 overall pick, I still believe they need to be getting some decent pieces and picks in return. 

The Blackhawks need defensive help; that is certain. After John Carlson, there are not many free-agent defensemen to get really excited about. With the likelihood that Carlson’s next contract will be determined by a bidding war the ‘Hawks can’t afford, their best bet to boost their blue line may come via a trade.

If the Blackhawks are serious about moving Hossa’s money and packaging it with the No. 8 pick, you would have to hope in return the team can add a proven defenseman and a different first-round pick. Some have talked about Justin Faulk in Carolina being someone the Blackhawks are interested in, but he does not seem like the type of player that would excel in the Joel Quennville system. 

One would think the asking price for Erik Karlsson, even as a one-year rental, would be higher than the eighth overall pick and a Hossa cap hit, but how much more would the ‘Hawks need to offer at that point is the question? Would another prospect and pick get the deal done? Freeing up Hossa’s $5.275 million in the deal would mean the Blackhawks could make something work long term for the 28 year-old, two-time Norris Trophy winner. The question is, how much more would Ottawa want?

Separate from this, there are many other teams and players the Blackhawks could be inquiring about this week. But one thing keeps repeating in my head: If the Blackhawks are going to trade away their first top-10 pick since they took Patrick Kane first overall in 2007, they need to be getting a solid package in return. Whether that package is players, picks, or even relief from the salary cap (Hossa, or even Brent Seabrook), Bowman and the Blackhawks need to hold that eighth pick as one of their most precious assets they have had in some time. 

Next: Blackhawks' Nalimov Requests Trade, Causing Concern

Whatever the Blackhawks decide to do, it is likely we will know the direction and path the franchise is on for the future in the next 100 hours or so. Stay tuned, ‘Hawks fans.

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