The NHL trade deadline is rapidly approaching, and a pair of trades made Wednesday could provide some insight into what the Chicago Blackhawks could expect if they make any deals in the coming days.
The first trade involved the Montreal Canadiens and Florida Panthers, as defenseman Ben Chiarot was sent to south Florida. In exchange, the Canadiens received a 2023 first-round pick, a 2022 fourth-round pick and prospect Ty Smilanic, according to multiple reports.
Chiarot has seven goals and 11 assists in 54 games for the Canadiens this season.
The second trade happened just moments later, as the Seattle Kraken shipped forward Calle Jarnkrok to the Calgary Flames in exchange for three draft picks, including a 2022 second-round pick and a 2023 third-round pick.
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The Kraken also got a seventh-round pick in the 2024 draft.
In 49 games with the Kraken, Jarnkrok scored 12 goals and dished out 14 assists, putting up a minus-15 rating for Seattle.
From the Blackhawks’ perspective, there are several facets of these trades that are worth noting. For starters, both deals involved retained salary, as the Canadiens retained 50% of Chiarot’s remaining salary and the Kraken retained 50% of Jarnkrok’s $1 million cap hit.
While neither cap hit was particularly burdensome, the Blackhawks do have the advantage of having salary cap space that they could leverage by agreeing to retain salary, especially in the case of a player like Dylan Strome, who carries a cap hit of $3 million, or Dominik Kubalik, who has a cap hit of $3.7 million.
The Blackhawks have just over $3.2 million in cap space ahead of the deadline according to CapFriendly, which would mean that they could retain half of either salary and remain under the cap.
That could entice a team to bump up a draft pick by a round or two, or even to include a more highly-prized prospect, to acquire either player.
The big difference of course is that both Chiarot and Jarnkrok are unrestricted free agents at the conclusion of the season, while Kubalik and Strome are both restricted free agents that will be eligible for arbitration at the end of the 2021-22 campaign.
That likely won’t come into play on Kubalik’s part, as he isn’t likely to get a significant raise with 11 goals to his credit in 61 games this season, but it could make an impact on Strome’s future status. As of late, the former first round pick has begun to find his form for the Blackhawks, and has 16 goals in 48 games this season.
That will make him a more valuable piece on the market ahead of the deadline, but it could also give teams pause if they don’t intend to sign him to an extension once he hits restricted free agency after the season ends.
The NHL trade deadline will arrive at 2 p.m. Central time on Monday. The Blackhawks still have two games left, but they also have a slew of players that could generate interest, including goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and forwards Ryan Carpenter and Brandon Hagel, as well as Strome and Kubalik.