Chicago Blackhawks: Trade Deadline Could Be Busy This Year

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JANUARY 07: Erik Gustafsson #56 of the Chicago Blackhawks fires a shot against the Calgary Flames at the United Center on January 07, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JANUARY 07: Erik Gustafsson #56 of the Chicago Blackhawks fires a shot against the Calgary Flames at the United Center on January 07, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

The trade deadline is right around the corner and the Chicago Blackhawks could be sellers even with an eye on making the playoffs in 2020.

It has been a tough road for the Chicago Blackhawks following the NHL All-Star Break considering they are still 8 points out of a playoff spot (3 games in hand) with 4 teams they need to jump over to claim the final playoff spot. Since the All-Star Break, they have a record of 2-4-2 and have had a difficult time finding any sort of consistent effort.

So now we sit, less than a week away from the NHL Trade Deadline and trying to figure out if they are a buyer or a seller. To me, they are clearly in the selling category but that doesn’t necessarily take them out of contention for a playoff spot.

Look at a team like the Minnesota Wild who just shipped out one of their top wingers, fired their coach and still have rumors surrounding other players in their locker room. With this kind of turmoil, they also find themselves still in the conversation for the final playoff spot.

With the trades, we have already seen over the past week or so the prices for middling pieces are higher than expect, see the trade for defensemen specifically. The Blackhawks have some pieces that could be fetching pretty sizeable returns if the prices hold as we progress towards the Monday deadline.

Erik Gustafsson

I think from what we have seen over the past week or so, Stan Bowman’s key focus should be on trading Erik Gustafsson as soon as possible. With packages out there that could include a second-round pick and a prospect or middle-round pick, it cannot be stressed enough that they need to capitalize on an asset that has more value than anticipated.

Blackhawks Insiders (Scott Powers and Mark Lazurus to name a couple)  have stated that the price on Gustafsson is a high one but there are teams that have shown interest in the defenseman who just had 60 points a season ago. While Gustafsson has struggled to figure it out this season it sounds like teams from around the league still think of him as a valuable asset on the backend.

The market has already seemed to have dried up for defenseman and hopefully, Bowman and Blackhawks management can leverage that to their advantage but I would expect if Gus is moved it will be much closer to Monday’s deadline.

Robin Lehner

Here is the Blackhawks crowned jewel when it comes to assets. Goaltending is such a huge part of going far in the playoffs and the Blackhawks have goal-tending in spades. However with news of negotiations between Lehner and the Blackhawks not progressing in a positive direction they should look to maximize the return on this asset.

Lehner could fetch a gigantic return as a goalie rental at the deadline would give a team another starting-caliber goalie heading into the Stanley Cup playoffs. One team that could make sense could be division rival Colorado Avalanche who is not looking for commitments beyond this season and have a boatload of cap space and prospects to dole out.

If the Blackhawks could convince the Avs to let go of a player like Alex Newhook or even Bowen Byram, who Blackhawks fans had a love affair with going into the draft, then you have to move Lehner to better the future of the organization. While Newhook or Byram for Lehner straight up doesn’t seem likely they could help the injury-depleted Avs with some complementary pieces to sweeten the pot.

Corey Crawford

Much like the story with Lehner, Crawford is a name that has been circulating the rumor mill over the last few months. Crawford is seen as a luxury as the Blackhawks 1B goaltender and with his solid season accompanied by his Stanley Cup pedigree, Crawford could be a great addition for a contender with weak goaltending depth.

The Avalance has been mentioned as a possible suitor but I wouldn’t expect him to fetch quite the same return as Lehner. A trade similar to the one that the Kings and Maple Leafs just recently made involving Jack Campbell could be a good framework for the Blackhawks to work around.

Say Crawford plus a Drake Caggiula or David Kampf for two seconds and a solid NHL prospect could make a ton of sense for the Blackhawks.

Brandon Saad

Saad is yet another name that has seemingly been in the rumor mill since he was reacquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Saad brings speed and an edge that tons of playoff teams would love in their middle six or even a team like the Edmonton Oilers could use to fill out in their top six.

Yes, Saad still has one more year left on his deal and is a fan favorite he could fetch a great return at the deadline. With teams looking for depth scoring and playoff experience, Saad fits the bill in both scenarios and also would not be just a rental for the acquiring team.

If the Blackhawks do end up moving Saad for futures, that would signal their intention to look to fall down the standings as they prepare for the 2020 NHL Draft.

Dylan Strome

A new name to the rumor mill Strome knows all too well what it is like to be traded but with the continued emergence of a player like Kirby Dach, he continues to see his playing time cut and see his role diminished. Last season the Strome and Alex Debrincat connection powered the Blackhawks into contention but injuries and inconsistency have plagued the duo.

After signing an extension in the offseason and his track record of success, DeBrincat’s future with the club seems cemented, the same cannot be said for Strome. While he still has had a productive season with 31 points in 47 games he could find himself on the move once again but only in a situation where he is used to addressing a need.

Strome is still a 22 yr old, developing talent if they can find a hockey trade where they can address a need while trading the RFA to be that would be the only way they move on from him.

While the deadline could pass and none of these names could be moved, it does sound as though the Blackhawks will not be quite come the deadline. Now we just need to see what Bowman can cook up for this team stuck in the middle.