As we inch closer to the NHL trade deadline, we looked at some forwards that might interest the Blackhawks yesterday. Now, let’s chat about the blue line.
The Hawks have used a mix of veterans and rookies this season, and have already made one trade to improve the group of defensemen. But adding Rob Scuderi in place of Trevor Daley didn’t work, and Scuderi is now in Rockford and the Hawks have some more cap space to work with at the deadline.
Trevor van Riemsdyk has been the most consistent of the Hawks young defensemen, and we’ve seen flashes from Erik Gustafsson and Viktor Svedberg that indicates they have promise at the NHL level. But they might not be quite what the Hawks want/need to get back to the promised land this summer. Michal Rozsival has returned to the lineup as a serviceable bottom pair veteran, but the Hawks could be in the market for one more body.
There isn’t a “big four” here as we discussed with the forwards yesterday, but there is an intriguing mix of players who might be available.
Kris Russell, Calgary
2015-16: 51 games, 4 goals, 11 assists, 15 points, -4
DOB: 5/2/87 (28 years old)
Cap Hit: $2.600M
- The Good: Russell is a terrific defenseman who would be a solid addition.
- The Bad: Calgary wants to re-sign Russell and keep him as part of their leadership group. But if they can’t, he’ll be one of the hot commodities on the market. He is cheaper and younger than Hamhuis, but those factors will impact the price to get him.
- The Situation: the Flames (53 points) are ahead of only Edmonton in the Western Conference. A nice story last season has become a complete dumpster fire this year.
- Deal Odds: totally depends on if Russell re-signs. If he doesn’t, this could be a move similar to Vermette last year.
Travis Hamonic, NY Islanders
2015-16: 51 games, 4 goals, 9 assists, 11 points, -2
DOB: 8/16/90 (25 years old)
Cap Hit: $3.875M (signed thru 2019-20 season)
- The Good: we made the case for Hamonic in November when reports surfaced that he had asked for a trade. He would potentially be a great fit, is signed to a long-term, team-friendly deal and is a terrific player on and off the ice.
- The Bad: he’s young and signed to a team-friendly deal, which means he’ll be a popular player. His trade request was to be closer to home, which means the Hawks could be bidding against other division rivals (Winnipeg, Minnesota) and Chicago might not be the right location.
- The Situation: the Isles have him under contract and are in the playoff picture right now, but might pull the trigger if the right deal is offered.
- Deal Odds: slim during the season, but if the Hawks decided to be aggressive to address their blue line and made a strong offer…
Dan Hamhuis, Vancouver
2015-16: 32 games, 0 goals, 5 assists, 5 points, +4
DOB: 12/13/82 (33 years old)
Cap Hit: $4.500M (NTC)
- The Good: Hamhuis is a nice player who would be a solid compliment to the Hawks’ top three defensemen. He’s an unrestricted free agent this summer, which is also ideal, and the Canucks might be sellers soon.
- The Bad: an injury had Hamhuis out of the lineup from Dec. 9 until Feb. 6, and he’s minus-three in six games since returning. The other negative factor here is Hamhuis will be a coveted veteran in a market desperate for blue line depth, so there might be a bidding war.
- The Situation: Vancouver (56 points) is currently six points behind Nashville for the final wild card spot, but have gone 3-5-2 in their last ten and injuries continue to hurt their chances of making the postseason.
- Deal Odds: slim. There will be teams (LA) that might be more inclined to pay the price to get Hamhuis out of Vancouver, and the Hawks limited cap space will likely be used to address more than one position.
- Mike Weber, Buffalo
Weber, 28, is in the final year of a deal with a $1.667M cap hit. Buffalo is looking to get younger and has some young defensemen (Mark Pysyk, Rasmus Ristolainen) fighting for ice time. Weber has 71 hits in 34 games this season, and is averaging 16 minutes per night.
- Tom Gilbert, Montreal
Gilbert, 33, is in the final year of a deal with a $2.8M cap hit. Montreal is in a free fall and could be inclined to move veterans like Gilbert and/or Andre Markov. Markov, however, has another year left on his deal with a $5.75M cap hit and a no-trade clause, making him doubtful to be added in a trade.
- Roman Polak, Toronto
Polak, 29, is a UFA this summer with a $2.75M cap hit and, with Toronto likely trying to dump anyone who isn’t signed into next season, he could probably be had for a couple draft picks. That being said, Polak’s history against the Hawks while a member of the Blues makes it hard to see Chicago getting excited about adding him to the room.