It’s all but certain that Chicago will be in the mix at the trade deadline, but as sellers, not buyers. The Blackhawks are likely not making the postseason this year, and they need to start thinking about next year. (This will probably be repeated excessively over the coming months.) There’s a link to another team though that could be interesting, with one catch.
Since the beginning of the season, Marc-Andre Fleury has, for the most part, been everything the Chicago Blackhawks needed him to be. He’s helping the team win games, but it would be shocking if he wanted to end his career on a rebuilding team. Fleury will be due a new contract after this year. It's hard to imagine he'd stick around. One organization that might be a good landing spot, even if just as a rental, would be the Washington Capitals. They’re going to be chasing the cup for sure this year, and would probably love an upgrade in the net.
Mark Lazerus even tweeted out that he thinks Washington would be a good landing spot for Fleury, and I'm inclined to agree. It’s a deal that would fit everyone.
The question then becomes, what would be the return? This is the most important thing for Chicago at this year’s deadline. Chicago will be looking for picks, especially, a number #1.
Washington still has their 2022 first-round pick. Is Fleury worth that? It's certainly fair to ask that for a rental that may put the team into a real spot for contention. Maybe Chicago throws in a sweetener to get the Capitals first, but not if Michal Kempny is involved. No more former players, please.
This is crucial for Chicago at this year’s deadline, and I'm not just saying this as a fan.
With Bowman gone, bringing back familiar faces should be off the table. First of all, Kempny is 31-years-old. That's not an ideal age for a team that's looking toward the future. Second, Kempy is due a new deal. Even if he were going to be an impact player for the Blackhawks (he wouldn't be), there's not much of a reason to bring in someone on an expiring deal. Unless it's part of an exchange that brings a first-round pick back to Chicago with him.
WEAPONIZE CAP SPACE AND STANDINGS! If Chicago retains salary on a trade involving Fleury, let's say half, and acquires someone like Kempny (who is signed at 2,500,000/year), then the money should work both ways. However, this kind of trade is only worthwhile if it brings in a first-round pick or someone equally valuable back to Chicago.
Washington would be a good fit for Fleury, and it might be a way of re-acquiring that lost first-rounder from the Seth Jones trade. Otherwise, be wary of former players. Chicago's next GM has to steer away from that. As a fan, those warm fuzzies for former Blackhawks just aren't there right now.