Something that has been pretty well established by any number of NHL analysts is that, once the Blackhawks are healthy, they have more talented forwards than there is ice time to satisfy. Adding Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews to an already-productive group will give the Hawks two more elite players to put in the mix.
As we discussed here on CommittedIndians yesterday, there are some decisions to be made by management as the injured players continue to get healthy. In that article, we discussed some of the younger players that might be on the fringe between staying in Chicago in a nice suit or heading to Rockford for the weekend.
However, Hockey Buzz is now putting more flesh to a couple rumors that have been hinted at for months.
John Jaeckel is reporting for Hockey Buzz that the Blackhawks are in talks with two teams: the Carolina Hurricans and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Something going down with Carolina might be a long shot, but the rumors between Toronto and the Blackhawks aren’t anything new.
The Toronto rumors center around the apparent interest the Hawks have in defenseman Tomas Kaberle. The Blackhawks would likely need to move a blue liner back to Toronto to make this deal happen, but the Leafs’ interest is reportedly in some of that bounty of young forwards coach Joel Quenneville has at his disposal.
Kaberle is off to a staggering start, scoring 17 points already in just 12 games. When you consider the Leafs have only scored 31 goals, Kaberle’s involvement in the offensive flow for Toronto is astounding.
Any move the Hawks would make right now has to be viewed through two lenses, though. One is the immediate impact the trade could make on the 2009-10 season, and the other is the implications on the Blackhawks’ salary cap flexibility next summer when Duncan Keith, Toews and Patrick Kane need new paper.
With that in mind, Kaberle’s contract has a cap number of $4.25 million, which matches his salary, and runs through the 2010-11 season. If the Blackhawks add a number in that range to next year’s payroll, they’ll likely need to move a player off that payroll. That would seem to cloud any alleged interest Toronto might have in Andrew Ladd, who’s a free agent next summer like Keith, Toews and Kane.
Ladd might be a valuable chip in the trade, but the Hawks would need to move someone under contract next year to make room for Kaberle’s salary and ice time. That might be where a name like Cam Barker enters the mix. Other names that have been whispered in Toronto rumors include Kris Versteeg and Patrick Sharp, both of whom are signed through next year.
Toronto is off to the worst start in the entire NHL, having won just once in 13 games. They’ve been outscored 52-31 so far, so moving Kaberle off their blue line would be a move intended to bolster their offense as much as it would be to use Kaberle’s great value to perhaps get a younger player back on their defense as well. Kaberle will turn 32 in March.
The rumors surrounding Carolina haven’t been nearly as direct as those regarding Toronto and Kaberle.
From Carolina’s perspective, they need a defenseman to lead their power play. To most Hawks fans, that screams Brian Campbell (and his enormous cap number), but they might have interest in Barker as well. Carolina GM Jim Rutherford has dealt with the Hawks in the past, as recently as moving Ladd to Chicago in the spring of 2008 in exchange for Tuomo Ruutu.
The players in whom the Hawks would allegedly have interest in these rumors are forwards. Ray Whitney’s name has come up in a couple of rumors, as have Joe Corvo and Rod Brind’Amour. None of these players brings nearly as much to the table as Kaberle, so, considering the Hawks’ depth up front, deciphering who the Hawks and Hurricanes would be discussing has been a little harder.
These rumors aren’t being reported as through there’s a trade awaiting league approval, though scenarios with Toronto do appear to have more weight than anything with Carolina. We’ll keep an ear to the ground and an eye on the internet to continue bringing you the latest news and rumors surrounding the Blackhawks.