Everyone wants their favorite member of the championship Blackhawks back, but there is one deal the Hawks could, and should, make to bring back one of the players they lost this past summer.
Right now the Blackhawks sit in the middle of the NHL winning exactly 50 percent of their faceoffs. However, that number is deceiving because of the overwhelming number of faceoffs being taken by Jonathan Toews, one of the best in the game. Dave Bolland has been mediocre at the dot (41.1 percent), and coach Joel Quenneville has tried to keep Patrick Sharp at wing but cannot afford to; Sharp is the only regular center on the Hawks roster other than Toews over 50 percent this season.
Meanwhile, in Minnesota, John Madden is winning 54.5 percent of his faceoffs.
Yes, Madden is the member of last year’s team that the Blackhawks should aggressively try to bring back, and could with a deal that would make minimal impact on the NHL roster. He has six points (four goals, two assists) and two of his goals have won games. Most importantly, he’s winning 60 percent of his short-handed faceoffs.
The reasons the Blackhawks let Madden walk as an unrestricted free agent were simple: the organization wanted to give Jake Dowell a shot at center, and the belief was that Madden would cost too much for the Hawks to bring back.
The surprise, though, was that Madden would take a one-year deal with the Wild for only $1.25M.
So how would the Blackhawks bring Madden back, and where would he fit?
The proposed deal: Troy Brouwer for Madden. Straight up.
Brouwer, 25, will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season and the likelihood that the Blackhawks can/will retain the 20-goal scorer is doubtful. Given the young forwards that could matriculate their way to Chicago in the coming seasons, Brouwer will probably end up being dealt over the summer the same way Andrew Ladd, Ben Eager and Colin Fraser were after the Hawks won the Cup.
The difference in money is little enough that the Hawks could handle it under the cap. Brouwer carries a $1.025M cap number, which is $225k less than Madden; the Blackhawks currently have roughly $975k in cap space to work with.
If the Hawks dealt Brouwer, they would give up their most physical forward. He currently leads the team with 67 hits, but his ice time has been minimal and he’s been in Quenneville’s doghouse for most of the season.
Bringing Madden back would afford the Blackhawks the ability to move Bolland to the second line permanently and bump Fernando Pisani back to wing. Madden would slide back into his role on the third line, where he was so effective in the playoffs, and could provide the same veteran leadership he did last year. His presence would instantly improve the Hawks depth on the penalty kill, strengthen the team down the middle, and make the team better at the dot.
Why would Minnesota make this deal?
It’s a no-brainer for the Wild. With Guillaume Latendresse expected to miss significant time this year with multiple injuries that now require surgery, Brouwer would be a top-six power forward for the Wild that they could keep at a price they could handle.
This deal makes sense for the Blackhawks and Wild, teams that have done business in the past (Cam Barker for Nick Leddy and Kim Johnsson). The players fit on the opposite roster, and the money works. Considering the Blackhawks current roster, it might be a good time for Stan Bowman to call Minneapolis.