The Canucks made a fairly significant trade over the weekend, acquiring David Booth from Florida. Other teams are said to be getting into the market as injuries pile up all over the NHL.
Could the Blackhawks enter the market soon?
There are a number of teams searching for a defenseman right now. Montreal, Tampa, Columbus, Calgary and Pittsburgh are just a few of the teams that have allegedly shown some interest in acquiring a young player to help their blue line.
Meanwhile, in Chicago, Sami Lepisto has been on the ice for 9:35 this season. He’s young, cheap, and not playing. Is he a top-four defenseman? Probably not. But could he help a team struggling through injuries? Absolutely. And he might bring a draft pick back to Chicago.
Similarly, Brian Connelly continues to skate in Rockford with little chance of ever calling the United Center home. He was an AHL All-Star last year with the IceHogs, and has been productive in Rockford for a few years.
But at 25 and on a one-year deal, this make-or-break year for Connelly would figure to be more of a trade bait season for him; with eight players ahead of him on the NHL roster, and youngsters Dylan Olsen, Ryan Stanton and Shawn Lalonde likely factoring more in the long-term plans of the organization, he’s a good player watching the ceiling only get higher over his head.
Those are two names that might intrigue a general manager somewhere else in the NHL right now.
Down the road, it could be interesting to see what other names enter the trade winds. As Olsen, Stanton and Lalonde continue to develop in Rockford, could Steve Montador find himself becoming available? He has struggled to establish himself as a fifth defenseman this year (skating five minutes less per game than he did in Buffalo last year), and might become expendable.
Considering the organizational depth Chicago has on the blue line, his four year deal raised a few eyebrows this summer. His cap number is affordable for most teams, too. The Blackhawks only gave up a seventh round pick (acquired from Florida for Tomas Kopecky) to negotiate with Montador, but might bring back better value if they decide to move him before the deadline.
Up front, it’s doubtful that Jamal Mayers will become available. Daniel Carcillo also appears to be establishing himself well with the Hawks group of forwards. Considering both of them are on one-year deals, and bring a physicality to the game the Hawks lacked last year, they should be safe.
If, or should we say when, Viktor Stalberg slumps, could he be a player the Blackhawks make available? With Ben Smith and Jeremy Morin coming back to full health in Rockford, and Brandon Pirri getting better with each game, there could be pressure on Stalberg to “put up or shut up.”
Maybe the longest shot to go on the market, what happens if Andrew Brunette continues to be entirely too slow to be a top-six forward in Chicago? Could he become available as well? On a one-year deal, he could be an affordable rental for a team trying to sneak into the Eastern Conference playoffs.
If anyone wants Rostislav Olesz or John Scott, one would have to assume the Blackhawks would listen to (read: accept, then laugh at) any offer.
Because the Blackhawks have so many prospects getting close to the NHL in Rockford, and they have a handful of experienced players on short-term deals, Chicago is in perfect position to take advantage of a desperate team or two this season.