The NHL Trade Deadline is this upcoming Monday, April 12, and the Chicago Blackhawks could approach the day a number of different ways.
General Manager Stan Bowman has been mostly quiet on his plans for the deadline, and given the unusual circumstances of this season, he is likely waiting until the day arrives to make any potential moves for the Chicago Blackhawks.
Despite this, the Blackhawks’ unique cap situation this year provides Bowman with an opportunity to go into the trade deadline as buyers with leverage, something he has rarely had the chance to do during his 12-year tenure with the ‘Hawks. Per CapFriendly, Chicago currently has over $22 million in cap space, mainly due to the numerous players they have on long-term injured reserve.
The Blackhawks’ front office has said that they aren’t looking to acquire players for the short term and if anything, are in it for the long haul. “We’re not going to be using our young assets and draft choices to try and bring in veteran players,” Bowman told the Chicago Tribune. “If you’re looking at taking on a player from another team, if they’ve got an additional two or three years, then the fact we have a lot of cap room this year doesn’t really help us.”
Bowman also said that “at this point, I’m just doing a lot of listening, I’m just checking in with [general] managers to let them know our situation.” So while Chicago does have a lot of cap space to work with, it doesn’t necessarily seem like they are eager to start shelling out money, and people may be inclined to view them as having a seller’s mentality at the trade deadline.
After all, the Blackhawks may or may not be making the playoffs this year, and Bowman has already made it clear he isn’t looking for rentals. However, I believe that this is a moment where the team should be acting as buyers going into the deadline.
With the major cap space that the team has, there is no reason that they couldn’t try and acquire a young, decent player who could help the team in the long run, provided that Bowman is able to put together a package with the right assets.
I think a player like Calvin de Haan is a perfect candidate to be packaged into a trade. de Haan has a $4.5 million contract that runs through the 2021-22 season. At only 29, he could still provide many years of service to the right team, so I don’t see any reason why Bowman shouldn’t be able to get a good return for him. Perhaps a decent young player with a shorter-length contract, or maybe a better backup goaltender to take some of the pressure off of Kevin Lankinen.
Obviously, this is all conjecture, and there is no guarantee that Bowman will even end up making any moves at all. He has become somewhat notorious for his quiet trade deadlines, so maybe this year will follow that pattern. Plus, he already made a move last week to re-acquire Vinnie Hinostroza from the Florida Panthers.
However, the core of this team isn’t getting any younger, and I don’t think it would be a bad thing for the ‘Hawks to take on a bit more of a cap hit in order to start building more towards the future. While they do have a good young core that they’ve started to build, picking up more pieces is never a bad thing.