While they do have a number of prospects in the system, the Chicago Blackhawks could desperately use some defensive help. While GM Stan Bowman has committed to a rebuild, there is one player in his prime that could add significant weight to the Chicago blue line.
There have been numerous rumors that the Philadelphia Flyers have been looking to move defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere out of the City of Brotherly Love. The Athletic‘s Pierre LeBrun reported in September that the Flyers were actively shopping Gostisbehere around, and the likelihood of the defenseman being traded seems to be high given that Philly has a deep defensive core, plus the fact that they signed former Hawk Erik Gustafsson this offseason.
Gostisbehere, a 27-year-old Florida native, was selected by the Flyers in the third round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, going 78th overall. He was an NCAA standout for the Union College Dutchmen at the time he was drafted. Following this, he played an additional two seasons for Union College, racking up 82 total points during his college career.
While Gostisbehere made an immediate impact in Philadelphia, his best season came in 2017-18, where he scored a career-high 65 points. However, his production has tailed off the past two seasons. Following his 65 point campaign, Gostisbehere scored only 37 points the following season, and went from a +10 to a -20.
However, despite this, I think that ‘Ghost’, as he is called in Philly, could still be a valuable asset to the Blackhawks. After all, Flyers coach Alain Vigneault has praised Gostisbehere’s attitude, and at only 27 years old with proven production behind him, he could add a lot of depth to a Chicago blue line that right now is based significantly on prospects waiting in the wings. Plus, he is the definition of a strong two-way defenseman, with 199 points in only 340 NHL games.
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So what would it take for the Blackhawks to acquire the Ghost? It depends on how much Stan Bowman is truly willing to give up to get him. Gostisbehere is entering the fourth year of a six-year deal valued at $4.5 million a year. The Blackhawks salary cap issues have been well documented, so they would have to unload significant cash value to get Gostisbehere on the books.
One asset that the Blackhawks could work with is forward Dylan Strome. The 23-year-old is currently a restricted free agent, and the Blackhawks have tendered him a qualifying offer, but he has still not been signed. While Bowman has stated that he believes the sides will come to an agreement, if the negotiations fall through, perhaps Strome could be used as a piece in a deal with the Flyers.
A new contract for Strome would likely be in the $4 to $5 million range, similar to Gostisbehere’s. While I do believe that Strome should stay in the Windy City, as he has some upside left, I don’t think it’s an impossibility that the Hawks could try to craft a deal that would include him. Throwing in a third or fourth-round draft pick as well might be enough to satisfy the Flyers in a potential trade and seal the deal.
Of course, this is all hypothetical. After all, it’s entirely possible that the Flyers hang onto Ghost, the Hawks re-sign Strome, and the teams move on. With the Blackhawks blue line the way that it is, adding a player like Shayne Gostisbehere would undoubtedly help this team. However, giving up too much in a one-sided trade isn’t a good thing either.
Realistically, would the Blackhawks really trade Dylan Strome, or perhaps some other pieces, in order to acquire Shayne Gostisbehere? Likely not, but never say never. Stan Bowman isn’t exactly known for blockbuster trades, but perhaps he’d make an exception in order to bring the Ghost to Chicago.