With the Chicago Blackhawks still eight points out of the second wild card spot in the Western Conference with 22 games left to play, Monday’s trade deadline will likely see the team in sell-mode rather than trying to bring in players for the stretch run.
The Blackhawks, who are 2-6-2 in their last 10 games and have lost seven of their last eight contests, were hoping to get back to the postseason after missing out on the playoffs the last two years, but with their recent struggles, it would appear that the team’s window of opportunity is closing for a third consecutive year.
With that reality coming into sharper focus, Monday’s trade deadline could represent an opportunity for the Blackhawks to acquire assets for the future, rather than trying to bring in short-term rentals to help for the remainder of this season.
With that in mind, here are some of the players that could be on the move before Monday’s deadline:
The long-time Blackhawks goaltender will be a free agent at season’s end, so in spite of a $6 million cap hit, he could be an intriguing rental option for a team looking for an upgrade at goaltender ahead of the deadline.
In 30 games this season, Crawford has a 2.89 goals against average, with a 10-16-3 record. He has played much better in recent weeks, so if the Blackhawks decide they aren’t interest in retaining his services moving forward, he could be a name to watch ahead of the deadline.
Speaking of rental players, Gustafsson has been on the trade radar throughout the season, as he’s in the final year of his contract with the Blackhawks.
After a 2018-19 season that saw him rack up 60 points, Gustafsson has fallen off a bit, with six goals and 20 assists in 59 games so far this season. Even still, teams like the Vegas Golden Knights have expressed interest in potentially acquiring him, and he could be on the move in the days leading up to the deadline.
Another soon-to-be-free-agent, Lehner has had a solid season for the Blackhawks, with a 16-10-5 record and a .918 save percentage. His goals against average has ballooned up to 3.01 after a strong start to the campaign, but with a reasonable cap hit and free agency looming after the season, teams in need of goaltending help could look to the veteran netminder for a boost between the pipes.
In terms of players who aren’t heading for free agency, a player like Saad could intrigue teams who are looking for a two-way player with upside on both offense and defense.
With a cap hit of $6 million for next season, Saad is a player the Blackhawks could look to move in order to clear some salary cap space. According to reports, Saad could be on the radar for a few teams, including the Boston Bruins, and his recent run of quality play could help boost his trade value with the deadline approaching.
Strome, acquired last season from the Arizona Coyotes, is due a big pay raise going into next season, but unlike Alex DeBrincat he has not agreed to a new deal prior to his restricted free agency.
Whatever factors are going into the decision on Strome’s contract, the Blackhawks could conceivably try to move him. The team likes what it has seen from Kirby Dach in his rookie season, and although losing Strome would hurt the club in terms of its center depth, they do still have Zack Smith, Ryan Carpenter, David Kampf and Matthew Highmore moving forward, potentially cushioning the blow if Dach slides into a full-time second line center role next season.