Chicago Blackhawks Trade Buzz: Would You Make This Deal?

As the Hawks head to the All Star Break, the trade deadline comes close with each passing day. The team’s inconsistent play and apparent lack of killer instinct has led to rumors that GM Stan Bowman is looking to make a major move.

So what could be on the way?

Here are two players. Both are defensemen, and while one has been on the market while the other hasn’t been mentioned in a single trade rumor to date. Consider these numbers:

  Player A Player B
GP 49 48
G 2 2
A 28 4
PTS 30 6
 +/- -6 6
BS 81 100
HIT 24 25
ATOI 22:29 19:18
SHTOI 0:15 2:13
PPTOI 4:29 0:07
PIM 12 23
DOB 3/2/1978 6/6/1987
CAP $4.25 $3.50
FA 2011 2014

Would you trade Player B, currently on the Blackhawks, for Player A?

Looking at the numbers without names (and emotions) attached, it appears that Player A, while being nearly a full decade older, would be a better option for the Blackhawks. Not only is he factoring in the offense more (28 assists), but the blocked shots and hits figures are close enough that there wouldn’t be an enormous dropoff from one player to the other.

The one drawback on making this trade is that Player A is more of a power play quarterback than a penalty killer, while Player B is a defensive specialist. Losing the quantity of time Player B is spending on the penalty kill unit would leave a gap on the roster that would certainly have to be filled somehow.

Or would it?

While averaging over two short-handed minutes per game, opponents have scored 16 goals while Player B is trying to kill penalties. That’s the second highest number on the team and is tied for 38th-worst in the NHL. So while Player B is certainly playing heavier minutes on the penalty kill, the quality of those minutes may make the the ice time deceiving.

Consider, also, the long-term impact of making this trade.

The Blackhawks are trying to lock up Brent Seabrook right now. If Player B’s $3.5M cap number was removed from next year’s payroll, and Seabrook was signed for roughly $4.5M per, the Hawks would buy $2.5M in extra cap space to potentially add a veteran free agent to their blue line while youngsters like Nick Leddy, Shawn LaLonde and Dylan Olsen continue their development.

Based on the amount of remaining season, the Hawks would be able to afford the additional salary for the rest of the 2010-11 season if they made this trade; the cap space is available for money to be a non-factor in this deal.

Player A is Tomas Kaberle of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Player B is Niklas Hjalmarsson of the Blackhawks.

If the Blackhawks made this trade, they would obviously be sacrificing a potential future with Hjalmarsson. But we’ve already written about the Hawks having strong organizational depth on the blue line, and someone is going to have to go before three years are up for Leddy, Lalonde, Olsen or any of the other talented young defensemen to get their shot at the NHL (at relatively cheap rookie contract dollars).

The odds of moving Brian Campbell’s cap number are remote, and the Hawks clearly don’t want to trade Duncan Keith or Seabrook. Despite being a younger player, Bowman never included Hjalmarsson in the “core” he spoke about when trying to lock up players like Keith, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Indeed, his cap number is higher than the Hawks were comfortable paying because of the offer sheet he received from San Jose.

From Toronto’s perspective, they’re adding a player with a ring that’s nearly 10 years younger than the asset they’re dealing away, and is under contract for three more seasons at $750k less than the veteran they’re dealing.

This isn’t a rumor… But if Toronto GM Brian Burke made the offer, would you entertain it?

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