Blackhawks Trade Speculation: Could Chicago And Philadelphia Make A Deal?

Major injuries all over the NHL are becoming a plague, and teams are starting to look around to fill significant roster holes as much as they’re looking to add a missing piece to a would-be winning formula.

With the cap space the Blackhawks currently have, and a full 23-man NHL roster, they could be in position to make a deal to address their needs. Could a phone call to Philadelphia be in the Hawks’ future?

Right now, the Flyers are in need of cutting payroll. They’re sitting roughly $4M over the cap, and have injury issues on their blue line. There is a potentially good fit for a trade between the two teams that would not only save the Flyers money, but could help both teams moving forward.

The trade would involve one forward and one defenseman moving each way as the primary NHL pieces in the deal. There could be prospects and/or draft picks added to offset value from one side to the other, but the numbers we’ll look at indicate that the values on the ice aren’t that far off.

First, let’s examine the two defensemen in the proposed deal. These are their full-season numbers from the 2010-11 season. Player A is from the Flyers, Player B is from the Blackhawks.

  A B
Age 27 24
Cap $ $3,437,500 $3,500,000
FA YR 2012 2014
GP 82 80
G 1 3
A 39 7
Pts 40 10
 +/- 30 13
PIM 23 39
BLK 157 166
HIT 51 46
ATOI 21:59 18:28
SHTOI 1:13 2:09
PPTOI 2:18 0:05

For Philadelphia, the defenseman we’re looking at is an unrestricted free agent this summer, and will probably be looking for a raise that would exclude him from the future plans of the Flyers because of their financial concerns moving forward.

Neither of these guys is a big-time goal scorer (four combined goals last year), but the Flyers’ skater was a more important part of the power play in Philadelphia. The hits and blocked shots are fairly even, and the Blackhawks defenseman was a more important part of the penalty kill.

Player A is Matt Carle. Player B is Niklas Hjalmarsson.

We’ll wait to address the overall “why would _____ do this deal?” question until we examine the forwards involved in the proposal, but there is a good reason to think this swap on their blue line might make sense for Philadelphia.

With the recent extension of Braydon Coburn, it appears Carle is not in the future plans of the Flyers. Hjalmarsson is younger, and would effectively replace Carle in the Philadelphia rotation while keeping the cap hit static for two additional years. With Kimmo Timonen’s salary coming off the books in 2013, Hjalmarsson would hit free agency the same summer as Andres Meszaros.

Philadelphia has a good offensive team locked-up for the next few years, so taking a step back in production from Carle to Hjalmarsson wouldn’t necessarily kill the Flyers.

Now, let’s look at the forwards in this deal. Again, we’re looking back at the 2010-11 production for two players, Forward A being a current member of the Flyers and Forward B from the Blackhawks.

  A B
Age 23 25
Cap $ $1,750,000 $541,667
FA YR 2013 2013
GP 80 78
G 14 17
A 16 20
Pts 30 37
 +/- -2 6
PIM 75 40
HIT 125 178
ATOI 13:27 13:50
PPTOI 0:50 0:55

So what are we seeing as the significant differences between these two players? While being two years older, the Blackhawks’ forward was credited with more than 50 additional hits, had fewer penalty minutes, and had more goals and assists than the player currently on the Flyers. The time on ice numbers are almost identical.

Both of these players become free agents at the same time, but there is one important difference. The Flyers player will be a restricted free agent, while the Blackhawks player will be unrestricted.

In this deal, the Flyers would cut roughly $1.2M off their cap number for a player that is, at least on paper last year, every bit the equivalent of the player they would be giving up.

Player A is Wayne Simmonds. Player B is Bryan Bickell.

Obviously Simmonds was in Los Angeles last year, and Bickell is presently in the doghouse in Chicago. But how much have their respective roles, and production, changed this season? Here’s a look at how they’re doing to date:

  Simmonds Bickell
GP 26 24
G 5 3
A 4 2
Pts 9 5
 +/- 0 -8
PIM 44 12
HIT 45 50
ATOI 15:43 12:36
PPTOI 3:26 0:57

Simmonds has piled up almost four times as many penalty minutes as Bickell, but is logging the fourth-highest power play minutes among Flyers forwards to date. Despite being a healthy scratch a couple times lately, Bickell still has more hits than Simmonds, and the most glaring difference is their plus-minus number.

Now… why would the teams do this deal?

First, from a Philadelphia perspective, the biggest reason to pull the trigger on this deal is to get a younger defenseman under club control for two more years. As we mentioned earlier, the paper given out on the blue line by Paul Holmgren so far this year indicates that the Flyers either can not or will not give Carle a raise… but replacing him for two more years at the same cost might not be out of the question.

There have been whispers that the Canucks have called Philadelphia about Carle in an attempt to dump Keith Ballard’s ugly contract. Hjalmarsson could be a good fit with the Flyers approach to team defense.

The swap of Simmonds for Bickell would be an exchange of bottom-six forwards that saves the Flyers money. It’s pretty simple in this scenario: the saved money is worth it for the Flyers, who could be seriously handicapped this summer if they have to roll as much as $4M over to next season.

Factoring in the savings from the exchange of forwards, Hjalmarsson would effectively cost the Flyers $2.3M next year to fill the role being filled currently by Carle. For what Hjalmarsson brings to the ice as a shot blocker and penalty killer, that isn’t a bad number.

From the Blackhawks perspective, this deal would bring a physical forward into the mix in Simmonds who would give the Blackhawks more options up front. The addition of a player with Simmonds skills would allow Stan Bowman the ability to shop veterans Andrew Brunette and Daniel Carcillo without fear of a fall-off in play; Simmonds has no problem dropping the gloves, and is good around the net.

Carle would be an intriguing play for the Hawks moving forward. With prospects Dylan Olsen, Ryan Stanton, Joe Lavin and Shawn Lalonde developing in Rockford, there will undoubtedly be a time in the next year that the organization wants to see one (or two… or three) of them in Chicago. Adam Clendening and Stephen Johns, both playing college hockey right now, are also in the mix for a job on the blue line in Chicago in the next few years.

By moving Hjalmarsson, the Hawks not only open up a roster spot for one of their top prospects to move up to the NHL level, but also clear up another $3.5M in cap space in each of the next two years. That cap space will be important in the summer of 2013, when Nick Leddy is a restricted free agent.

That is, of course, if the Hawks decided to not off Carle a contract.

Have the Blackhawks talked to Philadelphia? Not that we can confirm. And are the Flyers currently shopping Carle and/or Simmonds? It’s possible, but not likely. And would there need to be other pieces included for a trade like this to go down? Perhaps.

But as both teams move forward with aspirations of sustained excellence on the ice, this might be a good fit for both teams to make a deal. And the savings realized by the Flyers might make a trade like this good enough for Philadelphia to pull the trigger.

15 thoughts on “Blackhawks Trade Speculation: Could Chicago And Philadelphia Make A Deal?

  • December 8, 2011 at 3:47 am

    I wouldn’t mind Simmonds and/or Carle.

  • December 8, 2011 at 7:55 am

    Call Bowman and make sure he gets this…

    Simmonds will go to the net!

  • December 8, 2011 at 8:15 am

    Interesting and I am a big fan of Carle. Lets do it!

  • December 8, 2011 at 9:34 am

    So you want the Hawks who are already out hit every game to lose 50 more hits a year and the same Hawks whose penalty kill stinks to take on a player who takes a lot more penalties. Not sure this is the right direction

  • December 8, 2011 at 9:39 am

    I like the trade proposal with the Flyers. Simmonds would be a great addition. If this trade could be made, why do you talk about trading Carcillo? Unless you get the next Al Secord in exchange, you got to be kidding!

  • December 8, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    Sorry Tab, but I just think that this prop is way off. Whether or not you like Hammer on the blue line, he is a valuable commodity and if the Hawks are going to move him it will be to improve this years team, not a lateral move. I also dont see how it makes sense to trade him for someone who is going to command a similar salary in free agency, and hasnt done anything to prove he is as good as a defensman as Hammer. The Hawks have the opportunity now, with Hammer on the roster to allow one of the young defensemen from Rockford to come up and work the way into a bigger role, much like they did with him ony a few years ago. For whatever reason they have chosen not to do that and are running a three man rotation of 8th defensman on the 3rd pairing. I dont know why they would trade a minutes eater like Hammer unless it is part of a package where they get a big time forward or d-man in return. I do agree that Bickell is on his way out and I wouldnt be shocked if he and Bruno are sent together and you see a youngster on the top line with 88 and 19. I do like Simmonds and wanted the Hawks to brng him in before the season, so maybe they can swap him for Bickells invisible hits.

  • December 9, 2011 at 12:43 am

    If you read this believing that I think Hjalmarsson to Carle is a lateral move, that’s only in salary. I believe Carle fits what the Blackhawks need better than what they’re getting from 4 & his contract is up after this year, clearing cap space for either the addition of another veteran or the promotion of one of the talented prospects we have in Rockford. I would prefer Carle to Hjalmarsson.

  • December 9, 2011 at 9:53 am

    Losing Hjalmarsson who is arguably the most consistent defenseman on the team is not an option. I agree it could be time to part ways with Bickell, but I am not sure Philly would part with Simmonds right now anyhow, and he seems like a good fit there.

  • December 9, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    i would do the trade but would want a 4/5 round draft also in the deal going to chicago. carle would fit into the hawks alignmant and simmond always liked him and we lose bickell who has done nothing and hammeris a good comtributor but can be replace by carle.

  • December 10, 2011 at 10:48 am

    I think Hjalmarsson has been playing better/harder lately.

  • December 11, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Speaking for the Flyers, “We’ll pass.”

  • December 14, 2011 at 12:45 pm

    This may work on XBOX, but give me a break. I was literally laughing when Anthony Rizzi commented on also wanting a 4/5 round pick for the Blackhawks. This is why fans shouldn’t propose trades. There is no way the Flyers trade Simmonds for Bickell.

  • December 14, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    Dumb trade. Paul Holmgren’s not an idiot. Trade the D-man with 40 pts for the guy who had 10? Get real Blackhawk fans.

  • December 14, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    I’m sorry, but the deals Holmgren gave Pronger & Bryzgalov would lead me to think otherwise…

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