The Chicago Blackhawks could be among the more active teams at the April 12 trade deadline, but don’t expect Stan Bowman to settle for short-term gains.
Chicago is in a unique position, sitting fourth in the Central Division ahead of Thursday’s action against the Tampa Bay Lightning and are holding a 14-11-5 record that puts them four points ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets. If the Blackhawks keep pace, they’ll find themselves in the playoffs.
But here’s the thing: they’ve also got plenty of cap flexibility.
With defenceman Brent Seabrook hitting the long-term injured reserve list after retiring, the Blackhawks currently have a significant amount of cash available.
Bowman has no intentions of turning that green into a heap of rentals, but he does leave the door open for taking on some contracts – if there are benefits for the Windy City.
“I would say we’re trying to add players that we think can be part of our future,” Bowman said Wednesday. “I don’t think we’re going to be looking for rental players who will be here a couple of months and having to give up some top, young assets to do it. We have a lot of salary cap space, because we have several players on long-term injury, so we have the ability to take on some contracts this year if that situation presents itself.”
With more than a few teams interested in scrapping some coinage, the Blackhawks have the opportunity to present themselves as a viable option.
As talks intensity, Bowman says he’s been getting calls and “actively having conversations.”
Teams like the Vancouver Canucks, with their hideous Loui Eriksson pact, and the New York Islanders might be in the running to offload some deals. Should the Blackhawks take on a deal like, say, Andrew Ladd’s $5.5 million salary cap ding through 2023, they could receive a significant paycheque in return.
For a team that’s still in the running in the face of missing Jonathan Toews all year, that’s a pretty solid silver lining.
For the record, there are other options for Bowman come the deadline. The Blackhawks have a few veterans of their own they could expose, like pending UFAs Mattias Janmark and Carl Soderberg. Count Calvin de Haan among those who could be available, too.
Putting those possibilities out there opens unique flexibility at a critical time, as the franchise looks to springboard from their past success into future opportunity.
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