The Chicago Blackhawks traded Marian Hossa, Jordan Oesterle, and Vincent Hinostroza to the Arizona Coyotes in a blockbuster trade Thursday, and many fans were left wondering what the benefit of the swap was.
After all, Hossa was a veteran player who will never suit up in the NHL again, but he’s still under contract for three more seasons. Hinostroza and Oesterle are both younger and arguably haven’t hit their ceilings as players yet, but the Blackhawks included both in what was ultimately a seven player swap.
So what were the benefits to the Blackhawks and Coyotes in engineering this trade? Here is a quick breakdown of what both teams stand to gain, and lose, from the trade:
The Blackhawks executed this trade for a simple reason: clearing salary cap space. The move gives the team an additional $4.65 million in cap space, according to CapFriendly, and they can use it immediately, whereas with Hossa they had to wait until the season began to place him on Long Term Injured Reserve.
Including moves to call up players to fill out their forward group, the Blackhawks are looking at having around $7.5 million to work with in acquiring players, whether via trade or free agency, and that could open them up to adding a big difference maker before the season begins.
To a lesser extent, the Blackhawks will hope that Marcus Kruger will take some pressure off the center group, especially in the event of a trade involving Artem Anisimov, and trading Oesterle also could free up more playing time for players like Jan Rutta or even Henri Jokiharju if he makes the team out of training camp.
The Blackhawks do lose two NHL ready players in Hinostroza and Oesterle, and losing Hinostroza is painful because it now really hampers their depth among their middle-six forward group.
The timing of the trade is also a downside for the Blackhawks, as an earlier trade could have allowed them to bring in a big-time free agent like Calvin de Haan to help bolster their blue line.
Finally, they do lose control of Hossa, who could retire and leave them with a massive salary cap recapture penalty (although that seems highly unlikely given the winger’s relationship with the team.)
The Coyotes look at this trade as a two-pronged victory. For starters, they get a flexible forward in Hinostroza who can either play at center or wing, and can fill into many different roles as a second or third line player.
Oesterle also gives them a dynamic and offensively-skilled blue liner to add to a group that is already pretty solid, and in a division with a lot of question marks, both players could lift the Coyotes as they try to get back into contention for a playoff spot.
Finally, the Coyotes trade the short-term implications of Hossa’s $5.3 million cap hit for the flexibility to put him on long-term injured reserve during the season, clearing up cap room near the trade deadline if they are close to contending.
Outside of having to add Hossa’s cap hit to a number that’s surprisingly high given the team’s penchant for pinching pennies, the only real downside for the Coyotes is that they lose prospect MacKenzie Entwistle, whom they took in the 2017 NHL Draft.
Entwistle is a big-bodied forward that skates well and has offensive upside, making him an intriguing prospect for the under-sized Blackhawks. He had a solid season in the OHL last year, with 13 goals and 25 assists in Hamilton, and his development will be something to watch for in coming seasons.