Wednesday, NHL general managers got busy.
The New York Rangers acquired forward Frank Vatrano for a fourth-round pick. The Calgary Flames landed forward Calle Jarnkrok from Seattle for a second-round pick in 2022, a third in 2023 and a seventh in 2024. And the Florida Panthers brought in defenseman Ben Chiarot from Montreal for 2023 first-round pick, a 2022 fourth-round pick and unsigned college prospect Tyler Smilanic.
It’s now Thursday. The NHL Trade Deadline is Monday afternoon. Deals are being made. It’s time for now-permanent Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson to start showing us what his vision is for the franchise — and what he’s able to get done in an active trade market.
According to Elliotte Friedman in his “32 Thoughts” column last Wednesday night, teams still looking for a left-handed defenseman include Boston, Carolina, Los Angeles, Rangers, St. Louis and Toronto. The Blackhawks happen to have Calvin de Haan, Jake McCabe, Riley Stillman and Erik Gustafsson who shoot from the left side.
Friedman also indicates the Avalanche “have inquired about Patrick Kane” but doubts the Hawks make that deal. Not now, at least.
The first name that could/should come off the board for the Blackhawks is Dominik Kubalik, who we reported after the game on Tuesday has — according to sources — played his final game for the Hawks. Given some of the returns yesterday and Chicago’s potential ability/willingness to retain salary, it isn’t insane to think Davidson could ask for a second-round pick in a deal for him.
Anaheim and Edmonton have been reportedly interested but we’ve been told there is at least one Eastern Conference team in on Kubalik. Our friends at The Fourth Period have also reported the LA Kings are interested in Kubalik; they drafted him back in 2013. A deal could happen Thursday.
There’s also a strong chance the Blackhawks move veteran forward Ryan Carpenter, who could be a nice fit for a team looking to add some PK depth and a guy who can win faceoffs on a fourth line.
The wildest of wild cards for the Blackhawks is center Dylan Strome, who will be an RFA this summer. Since his last trip to the press box, he has come back with a surprising, new ability to win faceoffs consistently — the biggest issue with him being a potential top-six center. His work between Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat has made that a lethal line lately, which has not only made his value to the Blackhawks intriguing but also helped his potential trade value. He might bring a nice price at this point from a team that needs a center. He also might have played his way into another contract in Chicago.
The Blackhawks should be in the middle of lots of trade conversations right now. And we’ve preached patience with Kyle Davidson this season as he starts to do the job of turning around the franchise. But now the clock is ticking, deals are happening and it’s time to show the fans — and the rest of the NHL — what he’s got.
And then there’s the curious case of Marc-André Fleury. We’re hearing it’s 50-50 if he accepts a trade. The list of teams desperate for a goaltender — who also have the cap space to at least create an interesting case for a trade — isn’t long. And the entire free world is staring at Toronto as a team that has the goods to go for it if they want to… but a defenseman might make more sense than thinking Fleury solves all of their problems.
Certainly the return for Fleury could/should be solid. He showed us on Tuesday night that he’s still got the ability to steal a game. And he’s got championship experience.
Davidson will have to do two sell jobs for a Fleury deal to happen: one to a team to trade for the future Hall of Famer, the other to the player to accept the trade.