Everyone in Chicago is enamored with the idea of the Hawks making a move to add a legitimate second center to the roster before the 2011-12 season begins.
Despite quality production from Patrick Sharp in that role last year, and the organization being confident that youngster Marcus Kruger can transition to the North American game effectively, the perception of a need between Jonathan Toews and Dave Bolland continues to be a “top priority” for fans.
Now that the Blackhawks have two goalies under contract and have time to address their other restricted free agents, there may be potential for the Hawks to deal for the center so many feel they need.
An Eastern Conference team has a decision to make at center this summer, having the opposite problem that the Hawks do. They have too many centers, and could use help at other skill positions.
The Boston Bruins have two young centers – Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand – that had outstanding seasons. Seguin has exploded onto the postseason scene in the last two games for the Bruins, and has been labeled as the future of their franchise after being selected second overall in last summer’s draft.
The Bruins also have two veteran centers – David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron – that are top-line guys, and have financial commitments to match. Krejci posted 62 points during the regular season, earning his $3.75M cap number. Meanwhile, Bergeron had 57 points and continues to quietly establish himself as one of the better two-way centers in the game. Bergeron has a new three-year contract beginning with the 2011-12 season, that comes with a $5.00M cap number.
Between these four centers, the Bruins have a healthy investment. Marchand is a restricted free agent this summer, and the Bruins have $13.5M locked up in the other three.
The odd man out in Boston might be Rich Peverley.
And he would be perfect in Chicago.
Peverley, who will turn 29 in early July, has one year remaining on his contract with a $1.325M cap number. He won over 55 percent of his faceoffs last year between Atlanta and Boston, and scored 41 points (14 goals, 27 assists).
If Boston wants to upgrade other positions – defense, specifically - they may entertain offers for Peverley.
What makes a trade for Peverley intriguing is not only the reality that he would be the perfect fit in Chicago, but considering the potential cost to acquire him.
Boston traded 24-year-old forward – and former fifth overall pick - Blake Wheeler and defenseman Mark Stuart to Atlanta for Peverley and defenseman Boris Valabik on February 18th this season. While cutting payroll was certainly part of Boston’s motivation – they subsequently traded for Tomas Kaberle – Wheeler is a high price to pay for Peverley.
The financial situation isn’t as tight for Boston this summer as it was at the deadline, but they can deal from a position of depth. After an awful postseason, it’s unlikely the Bruins will offer a contract to Kaberle. The Bruins could use help on their blue line; Johnny Boychuk’s 16 points ranked third among Boston defensemen last season.
This is where some of the Blackhawks restricted free agents, and prospects/draft picks, could come into play.
While most of the comments from Chicago’s front office have been favorable regarding his time with the Hawks, Chris Campoli might be a player of interest for Boston.
Similarly, moving one of the five picks Chicago owns in the first three rounds of the 2011 Draft wouldn’t make an enormous impact on the organization. One needs look only back to the trade sending Phil Kessel to Toronto to see that adding draft picks is a preferred business practice in Boston.
If a prospect like Kyle Beach, or restricted free agent like Viktor Stalberg, was also included, the package might be more than Boston could pass on for a fifth center.
The salary cap space and term for Peverley are ideal for Chicago, and the skills he brings to the ice are perfect.