The Chicago Blackhawks are heading toward next week’s NHL trade deadline with some needs to fill on the defensive side of things, but their priority list got a bit of a shake-up on Tuesday night as Patrick Kane was injured in their victory over the Florida Panthers.
With rumors swirling about how long Kane will actually be out for the Hawks—the current consensus seems to be a timetable of six to 10 weeks with a broken collarbone, but nothing has been confirmed by the team—the question of whether or not the team will add a piece before the deadline becomes even more pressing.
There was talk of general manager Stan Bowman making a move prior to March 2 to acquire defensive help, with names like Andrej Sekera popping up on the radar, but with Kane’s injury, forwards could become targets for the Hawks as well
Unfortunately for the Hawks, there is one thing that is going to complicate their efforts to acquire help: salary cap space.
The team doesn’t have much of it as it is, and although putting Kane on long-term injured reserve would allow them to make a substantial move, it would undoubtedly be a limited time rental.
With Brandon Saad due for a contract extension next season, and new deals kicking in for Kane and Jonathan Toews, the Blackhawks have absolutely no wiggle room next season for new salary. So any player acquired now would have to be either moved or allowed to become a free agent by July 1.
With those limitations in mind, there are still players that could end up on Chicago’s radar should they choose to pursue a forward on the trade market.
One name that keeps popping up is Arizona Coyotes center Antoine Vermette, and with good reason. His scoring numbers aren’t exactly off the charts, with 13 goals and 22 assists in 61 games for the Coyotes, but his penchant for winning face-offs and his defensive skill are both qualities that the Blackhawks could use, and it would allow the team flexibility to move a guy like Andrew Shaw back out to wing.
Another possible rental player for the Blackhawks could be veteran winger Jaromir Jagr. A free agent at season’s end, Jagr is rumored to want out of New Jersey as the Devils continue to struggle this season, and adding a goal scorer of his skill level could be a huge boost to the Hawks’ offense as they gear up for a playoff run.
There are other players who could be on the Hawks’ radar, including Chris Stewart, but the Hawks could also choose to go forward with in-house decisions. They’ve got plenty of depth at forward in their prospect chain, and guys like Teuvo Teravainen and Mark McNeill could get chances to crack the lineup consistently with Kane out.