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The Chicago Blackhawks are at the point of no return

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CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 17: Chicago Blackhawks fans celebrate a Chicago Blackhawks goal in the third period of play during a game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Washington Capitals on February 17, 2018, at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 17: Chicago Blackhawks fans celebrate a Chicago Blackhawks goal in the third period of play during a game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Washington Capitals on February 17, 2018, at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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CHICAGO, IL – DECEMBER 02: Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford (50) defends the net against Calgary Flames center Sam Bennett (93) and Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (2) during a game between the Calgary Flames and the Chicago Blackhawks on December 2, 2018, at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL – DECEMBER 02: Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford (50) defends the net against Calgary Flames center Sam Bennett (93) and Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (2) during a game between the Calgary Flames and the Chicago Blackhawks on December 2, 2018, at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

On a magic carpet ride

So while you play armchair GM pondering the fate of the team, take a ride with me on a magic carpet ride. Who’s out there that could help you rebuild your team?  Here are some interesting options.

Travis Sanheim of the Philadelphia Flyers is a former 2014 first round draft pick.  He’s your big, mobile defenseman at 6-feet-4, 200 pounds, who has not yet reached his potential at the age of 22. While playing behind the likes of Ivan Provarov, Shayne Gostisbehere, Andrew MacDonald (on injured reserve), Christian Folin, Radko Gudas, and Robert Hagg, he’s posted positive Corsi percentages in his two NHL seasons.  Sanheim had some issues last year with consistency but has shown better this season.  He has a high ceiling but is buried in the third pairing.  With the Flyers 9 points out of a wild card spot, new general manager Chuck Fletcher may be inclined to make some moves to salvage his team’s season.  With starting goalie Brian Elliot out with an injury and their goalie situation already tentative, the Flyers have a need.  They could be interested in Corey Crawford.

Jake Gardiner of the Toronto Maple Leafs will be an unrestricted free agent when this season ends.  He is 28 years old and currently has a salary cap hit of $4,050,000.  He could command a new contract worth $6,500,000 per year.  The Maple Leafs will also have to re-sign Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, and a few more to new contracts.  Their organization might not have enough cap space to sign all of them, which might make Gardiner or the younger Travis Dermott available in trade.  If the Maple Leafs desired Duncan Keith at $5,538,462 per year, they would obtain a championship savvy defenseman with a reasonable long-term salary.  That would give them the flexibility to re-sign more of their prized young stars.  And they have a current year salary cap cushion of $5,830,851.  The math works.

The Vegas Golden Knights have a plethora of high draft picks under the belt due to the many deals general manager George McPhee pulled off during the NHL expansion draft.  They have a current cap space of $7,059,991.  They have an expiring contract on defenseman Deryk Engelland (whom you wouldn’t resign) and several desirable prospects in their system.  One is big defenseman Jake Bischoff, who sports a high plus/minus with the AHL Chicago Wolves. The other is elite center Cody Glass, currently with the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL.  Vegas is an intriguing trade partner.

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