Today, I took to Twitter and asked for some questions to use in a mailbag article. I thought it'd be particularly interesting with the trade deadline being a week away. I'm hoping to make this a thing where I do it bi-weekly. Thank you to everyone who responded!
So without further ado, let's get to the questions!
Well, HAL 9000, this is probably the biggest question surrounding the Blackhawks heading into the trade deadline. Fleury is a UFA this offseason and there are a few teams in a playoff hunt that could use a goaltender of his calibre. Minnesota, Washington, and Toronto are teams that fit the bill. Kyle Davidson would obviously love to acquire a first round pick and potentially even more for the 37 year old goalie, but in recent history, how many teams have given up a first round pick for a goalie at the trade deadline? Off the top of my head, Ryan Miller in 2014 is the most recent example I can think of. And all of this is if Fleury wants to move in the first place. He has a 10 team no trade clause the Blackhawks front office has to honour. I don't think Fleury moves after the March 21st deadline.
Well, my good friend Schmitty and co-host of my podcast, not sure if this is a hot take, but I wonder if Philipp Kurashev should be playing in Rockford right now. Though he's scoring at the same pace as he did last season, development is of the most importance for the Blackhawks, and the confidence isn't there for him. Kurashev is still only 22 and could benefit from playing top line minutes for the IceHogs while they battle for a playoff spot. It certainly hasn't hurt Lukas Reichel and Ian Mitchell.
Thanks for the question, Charles, who's another friend of mine. What Dominik Kubalik will get at the trade deadline is the second most intriguing topic behind Marc-Andre Fleury. It's clear the 26 year old forward is not part of the Blackhawks future and he's had a really rough season. We've seen from a report that the Ducks have emerged as a frontrunner for the Czech forward, so let's say he goes there. You're not going to get Anaheim's first round pick or their top prospects like Mason McTavish, though I wonder if Brayden Tracey could be a target. The 29th overall pick from 2019 has struggled with San Diego as of late, with just a point in his last 10 AHL games. He still has 26 points in 40 games over the whole season, so there's some offensive talent to bet on.
I don't think the Blackhawks should be adding toughness just for the sake of adding toughness. I'm certainly not dismissing it, but there's more to the game than throwing hits and fighting, if that's your definition of toughness. You can find those kind of players in free agency for dirt cheap and they already have a player like that in Rockford with Kurtis Gabriel. Now, finding another player like Jujhar Khaira would be interesting. While Khaira didn't put up amazing stats by any means before he got injured, he was someone who was on pace to flirt with 10 goals, was able to hit, and fight if needed to. As for players they could target, maybe Cal Clutterbuck who's a UFA this offseason, or...adding Ben Chiarot on the blueline who's also a UFA? Not saying the Blackhawks should do that at all - they shouldn't, just throwing names out there. To sum it up, a hockey player should be able to do more than hit or fight to be effective and help you win.