We still need the Stanley Cup Final to wrap up, but rumor and trade season is starting to heat up.
We are already getting news about players like Nikita Zaitsev asking for a trade, a leaked potential trade between the Kings and Leafs involving Patrick Marleau, and how teams like Tampa and Vegas are doing what they can to successfully get under the cap.
The latter part of that used to be something that hindered the Blackhawks after establishing their dynasty, but now, they have cap flexibility and are motivated to get back to the playoffs after sitting from home for two straight seasons.
Recently, Frank Seravalli posted his most recent trade bait board that featured plenty of interesting names the Blackhawks could be interested in, as well as a player the Blackhawks will be looking to move this offseason.
Who Should the Blackhawks Target?
Back in 2016, Trouba requested a trade from the Winnipeg Jets. He would eventually rescind his trade request and continue to play for the Jets and signed a 1-year deal last offseason for $5.5 million.
When Trouba signed that deal, he was likely imagining another deep cup run with the Jets and not a first-round exit, so maybe Winnipeg will look to shake some things up to get them back on track.
Trouba had a breakout offensive season for Jets in 2018-2019 with 8 goals and 42 assists in 82 games, making you wonder what the Jets are going to be looking for in return for a young talent like him.
With Trouba also being on a division rival, you have to think that they are not willing to do any favors for the Blackhawks, so it might cost them even more.
The Jets would likely require high-end young talent in return, something the Blackhawks do have with defensemen like Ian Mitchell, Nicolas Beaudin, and Adam Boqvist, but is Trouba the guy that they want to empty their system for?
Jacob Trouba would immediately become your best defenseman, but I am unsure if he is a true #1 defenseman. Do you completely destroy your system for a defenseman you aren’t sure is a top defenseman in this league?
A bit of a surprise addition to the trade bait board for me, as Gostisbehere, from the outside, seems like a large part of the Flyers’ core, but he took a major step back this season with 37 points in 78 games.
However, Gostisbehere is just a season removed from a 65 point campaign and has shown that he is a dynamic offensive defenseman.
The problem with a guy like Gostisbehere is that he really has been inconsistent in his four full seasons in the NHL.
He had a breakout rookie campaign where he put up 46 points (17 goals) in 64 games, but would then slump to similar stats from this season with 39 points in 76 games.
The trend seems to be that when the team around him is good. He is a talented defenseman, but his numbers suffer when his team is not a playoff team.
By no means is 30+ points from a defenseman anything to scoff at, but he needs players around him that will allow him to play his style.
With the weak defensive core that the Blackhawks already possess, I would be uncertain if Gostisbehere could shoulder the load that would be placed upon him.
Zaitsev was more than likely going to be moved this offseason with the Leafs current salary cap crunch.
On Thursday, we found out that he has formally requested a trade from the Leafs, citing personal reasons.
After signing in the 2016 offseason, coming over from the KHL, Zaitsev was an immediate impact player for the Leafs. He saw time on the power play and penalty kill, and also, netted 36 points in the process.
That breakout prompted the Leafs to sign him to a 7-year extension worth $31.5 million. They likely thought signing him to a deal like this might become a bargain in a few years.
However, since signing his 7-year extension, he has struggled to find his footing with the Leafs offensively and defensively, with only 27 points in 144 games and watching his shot impact falling steadily year over year.
Zaitsev looks like a player on the decline, but from everything that hockey insiders are saying, Zaitsev is a name that is consistently coming up.
For a team that is so defensively strapped, I would not be surprised if they kick the tires on a player like him.
Hamonic is a player I think the Blackhawks could target and would be in their price range. The Flames are looking to move some salary in order to lock up their RFA’s, as well as give them cap flexibility for the offseason.
Hamonic has seen a bit of a decline in his play since he was moved from the Islanders to the Flames, but he is a solid defender who could really stabilize the Blackhawks’ defensive core.
Adding a guy like Hamonic, who has a reasonable cap hit ($3.857 million) and isn’t committed for an extended period of time (1 year remaining) makes sense.
Hamonic would be a good stop gap for the youth on their way to Chicago and could be a stabilizing factor for a defense that is in desperate need of an upgrade.
With Calgary also looking to shed salary, it would be reasonable that the Blackhawks would not need to move any players off the current roster. This would allow them to be active during free agency.
Another interesting name to see on the trade bait board is a player from the Vegas Golden Knights.
After two years of existence, they are already a capped team and have players who need new contracts this offseason.
Miller was one of the big “gets” from the expansion draft, and in his first season with the Golden Knights, he flashed his potential by posting 41 points in 82 games.
This last season, his offensive effectiveness took a bit of a step back with 29 points in 65 games, as he battled injuries throughout the year.
He also spent time in coach Gerard Gallant’s doghouse. Even with the injuries and inconsistent play, Miller has been an extremely effective player and would be an immediate improvement for the Blackhawks’ defense.
What it would cost to add a player like Miller? He appears to have tons of suitors in the market that are looking for a top-four right-handed defenseman. This could drive his price up.
Miller would absolutely be an upgrade to the Blackhawks’ current core and would come in at a reasonable cap hit.
Kadri’s inclusion in this list is directly correlated to his thick-headed moves during the past two seasons of playoffs for the Maple Leafs.
The Leafs also need to shed salary for the extensions of Mitch Marner, Andreas Johnsson, and Kasperi Kapanen. Although Kadri comes in at a manageable cap hit, the Leafs have huge salaries that need to be accommodated, with three of their players likely to be getting paid $10 million plus per season.
Kadri had a down year offensively as well, as he adjusted to becoming the third line center behind Matthews and Tavares. He had his lowest point since the 2014-15 season, with a total of 44 points.
With all that being said, Kadri was terrific at the faceoff dot this season and embraced his role as a third line center. He would substantially bolster the Blackhawks’ center depth.
The major issue I would see in any possible trade for a guy like Kadri is that the Leafs would likely be looking for more defensive depth, which the Blackhawks clearly do not possess.
The Leafs window is now. They would rather have a proven blueliner over the likes of prospects that the Blackhawks could provide.
In the media, a lot has been stated about the interest in scoring forwards like Jeff Skinner and Artemi Panarin, but if the Blackhawks want to add some scoring depth on the wing, Hoffman could be an interesting piece.
He had a career year with the Panthers, but with Florida setting its sights on players like Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky, they are going to need to look to move some pieces out to fill other holes.
Hoffman is another one of those players where Florida would be hoping to get defense back in return.
As a player on the last year of his deal, and likely a big payday come the season after, what kind of value does he provide?
Mike Hoffman is a bit of a long shot for the Blackhawks to look at but could be an interesting name to keep in mind, if they look to add more offense.
The lone Blackhawks player on the list. Fans have been calling for an Anisimov trade since last offseason. Anisimov can no longer block a trade, so it’s possible that he has played his last game in Chicago.
The return for Anisimov is likely to be a low one considering his cap hit of $4.550 million and two years remaining on his deal. This might be viewed as a steep price for a player who looks to be a 3rd line center going forward.
Anisimov would figure to be a target of teams trying to reach the salary cap floor. With the Blackhawks not as restricted by the cap, maybe they aren’t feeling the pressure to move Anisimov’s contract.
However, if the Blackhawks can move Anisimov and not take on much salary back, they position themselves very nicely for the free agency period.
Look for his name to pop up more as we head to the NHL Draft, as the Blackhawks would surely like to have more flexibility heading into this offseason.
Do they have the ammo or commitment to go after these players? That is yet to be seen, but if anything, there are players out there who are available and can help this Blackhawks roster.
How aggressive will Stan Bowman be this offseason? That is the real question. We will know more as the month of June unfolds, with the NHL Draft coming up, and free agency begins on July 1st.