As we get closer to the deadline, trade rumors will continue to heat up. On Wednesday morning, one of the bigger in-season blockbuster trades was announced when the Winnipeg Jets sent disgruntled forward Evander Kane to the Buffalo Sabres in a seven-player deal.
With Winnipeg sitting on the Blackhawks’ heels in the Central Division, the Kane deal will put increased emphasis on the Hawks getting healthy and consistent. Thankfully, forward Kris Versteeg is back in the lineup as Vancouver visits the United Center on Wednesday night, and rookie defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk is skating and could return before the end of the regular season.
However, there are certainly areas that the Blackhawks would undoubtedly like to address (a veteran defenseman not-named Oduya or Rozsival, another physical forward).
When we look at players the Blackhawks might consider, there are two considerations to keep in mind: Stan Bowman rarely trades inside the Central Division, and with the Hawks’ limited cap space and upcoming prospects they are likely only looking to rent through the end of the season.
Let’s take a look at some of the players the Blackhawks might target if/when they look to make a deal.
D Mike Weber – $1.667M cap hit, 2016 free agent
Weber, 27, is an interesting player to consider. Buffalo GM Tim Murray indicated in his comments after acquiring Evander Kane that the Sabres aren’t done answering the phone, and could be active as the deadline approaches. Weber’s cap number is reasonable and he’s a physical defenseman; he ranks second on the Sabres in blocked shots and hits. Weber averages 17:18 per night, 2:15 of which comes short-handed for the last-place Sabres. He has one goal and five assists with 49 penalty minutes in 40 games this season.
D Marc Methot – $3.0M cap hit, 2015 free agent
Methot, 29, missed almost the entire first half of the season but is back to his usual 20-plus minutes per night. In his first 12 games this season, Methot has been credited with 22 hits and 19 blocked shots with five assists.
Toronto Maple Leafs
D Cody Franson – $3.3M cap hit, 2015 free agent
F Daniel Winnik – $1.3M cap hit, 2015 free agent
If we’re honest, Franson is a bit of a pipe dream. Only 27 with more than 100 hits and blocked shots already this season, he’s a player that will receive interest from all over the NHL if he doesn’t want to stay in Toronto long-term. The Hawks would have to move salary and quality prospects to bring in Franson with no guarantee they could afford him after this spring.
Winnik, who will turn 30 in early March, has a cap number that’s much easier to imagine the Blackhawks considering. With that being said, he’s a valuable player who will also garner a good amount of interest from around the league. Winnik leads the Leafs in short-handed ice time per game (3:28) and is fourth on the Leafs with 32 takeaways.
D Tim Gleason – $1.2M cap hit, 2015 free agent
D Andrej Sekera – $2.75M cap hit, 2015 free agent
The Hawks have been linked to Gleason in the past. Now 32, Gleason has 76 hits and 109 hits in 46 games for the Canes while skating more than 16 minutes – two of which are short-handed – each night.
Sekera, 28, leads the Canes with 86 blocked shots and is averaging more than 22 minutes per night.
New Jersey Devils
F Michael Ryder – $3.5M cap hit, 2015 free agent
D Marek Zidlicky – $4.0M cap hit, 2015 free agent
Ryder turns 35 at the end of March, and his cap hit might make him harder to fit in Chicago. But he has an offensive upside that would add something to the Hawks’ bottom six and his
age experience is something that would appeal to coach Joel Quenneville.
Zidlicky just turned 38 on Tuesday and his having a nice season for the Devils (21 points thru 51 games). He’s second on the Devils in blocked shots (64) and is playing more than 22 minutes per night. Somewhat surprisingly, his 5-on-5 iCorsi (125) is comparable to Johnny Oduya (130) so far this year.