For the Chicago Blackhawks and the rest of the NHL, the trade deadline has finally come and gone. The Blackhawks stayed quiet, and here’s three reasons why that’s okay.
Though this is disappointing for those hoping for that top-four defensemen or top-six scorer, this might be the best move for them. Here’s why.
1 – The Chicago Blackhawks aren’t explicitly sellers or buyers.
The Chicago Blackhawks have hot players offensively, have starting winning games and are currently five points out of a playoff spot.
On the other hand, they lost their two biggest games of the season thus far over the weekend and are only four points away from being in the bottom-five in the NHL.
At this point, the Blackhawks don’t really have much to work with as far as trade chips are concerned and they haven’t played well enough defensively to be deemed true “buyers.” If this roster ultimately gets them into the playoffs, that’s great .
If not, the Blackhawks wouldn’t have gained too much from being sellers anyway. Letting this season play out is a smart move allowing them to further assess roster needs.
2 – The trade block is filled with rentals and the Chicago Blackhawks are more than just one away from contending.
There are quite a few other attractive pending UFAs who have had their names tossed about, Artemi Panarin being a notable one, but even he is off the table as the Columbus Blue Jackets are going all in on a Cup run this year.
That said, that’s probably for the best for the Chicago Blackhawks.
Though they put together two good efforts in both games, the Blackhawks simply couldn’t get it done. Now, they find themselves five points out of a playoff spot instead of tied for the second like they were just three days ago.
Not great for their playoff chances.
Aside from being disappointing, the Blackhawks falling flat this weekend is another sign amongst a long list of them that this team is not close to competing for a Cup.
At the trade deadline, pending UFAs are most often the players on the trade block and this year is no exception. Every player listed earlier, and most every player on TSN’s list of names in conversation, will be free agents after this season.
Given the current situation the team is in, the Blackhawks cannot risk losing prospects for someone who might not be around next year. If they did anything, it needed to benefit both the present and future, not either or.
The pieces on the trade block this year made that easier said than done, so good on Stan Bowman for not forcing anything.
3 – Artem Anisimov will be easier to move this summer.
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This summer, Artem Anisimov will see his partial no-movement clause disappear and he will be able to be traded anywhere. Anisimov is playing well right now, but his play hasn’t been sustained for long enough for his trade stock rise significantly.
If he comes back down to earth, his value this summer will be roughly the same as it is now.
On the other hand, if he continues playing well throughout the rest of the season he could demand a higher return this offseason. Additionally, the Chicago Blackhawks will have more flexibility as to where he can be traded.
Holding onto Anisimov throughout the rest of the season is a win-win. You either have the flexibility to move him anywhere, ensuring that ‘Hawks find the right deal for them, or he can help to fuel a playoff run and drive his trade stock higher. Both benefit Chicago.
4 – More time to evaluate defensive situation.
In general, the market at the trade deadline this year more heavily benefited sellers as opposed to buyers. Outside of perhaps the Mark Stone trade, sellers seem to be getting more in return. It’s most likely that if the Chicago Blackhawks want to improve their defense this offseason, it will have to come through a trade.
In a perfect world, they would’ve been able to execute a trade prior to the deadline so they had a legitimate top-four defensemen aiding them in their playoff chase. That said, we aren’t living in a perfect world.
The price of a top-four defensemen is high as it is and the trade deadline only drives it higher.
In my opinion, waiting works into the Blackhawks favor. This offseason they will have a better handle on which defensive prospects might be NHL ready and, more importantly, which current defensemen on their roster it’s time to give up on.
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The Chicago Blackhawks have a logjam defensively and allowing themselves more time to assess the situation and decide how to handle it moving forward is a smart move. While it would’ve been great to see them do something to benefit the short and long term, I’m glad they chose to stand pat as opposed to them putting the future in jeopardy.