Blackhawks mailbag, Part 2: Who could be traded? Who should be called up?

Blackhawks beat reporter Ben Pope answers more questions from fans on Twitter.

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Dominik Kubalik (No. 8) is one of several players the Blackhawks could consider trading later this season.

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This is the second part of Blackhawks beat reporter Ben Pope’s mailbag, answering questions from fans on Twitter.

If the Hawks don’t make the playoffs this season, which players will be considered for trades?

We can assume for now the Hawks (11-15-4) won’t make the playoffs.

They have been trying to trade center Dylan Strome since last spring but haven’t received any significant offers. Any improvement in those offers likely will mark the end of Strome’s Hawks tenure, rightly or not. The same goes for defenseman Calvin de Haan, a pending unrestricted free agent who has openly discussed the tenuousness of his Hawks future. Center Ryan Carpenter is a pending unrestricted free agent, too.

The most intriguing trade questions involve goalie Marc-Andre Fleury — more on him

below — and winger Dominik Kubalik. There are many conflicting factors with Kubalik. He was great in his first two seasons but has struggled in his third. He’s only a restricted free agent, but he requires a $3.7 million qualifying offer and has arbitration rights. Interim general manager Kyle Davidson, who signed Kubalik to this contract two years ago, must make a tough call here.

How likely is a Fleury trade?

The Hawks probably would happily trade him for assets come February. Despite his terrific on- and off-ice impact, that’s simply smart business for a non-playoff team with a veteran unrestricted free agent.

The bigger question is whether Fleury, 37, would consider another trade. His reluctance to move to Chicago last summer was a demonstration of his family-first attitude. Now that his family has grown accustomed to Chicago, his reluctance to uproot them could be a factor again. Maybe he’d use his no-trade clause to block a deadline move, or maybe he’d like to chase another Stanley Cup title. It really all depends on him.

Will Alex Nylander and/or Lukas Reichel get NHL opportunities this season? Which other Rockford IceHogs players are worth call-ups?

Reichel, a wing, is in his own category among the AHL prospects. The Hawks know he’s an NHL-caliber player. Their sole priority is to not rush him and screw up a golden ticket, so they’ll be very careful with the timing of his long-awaited first call-up.

Outside of Reichel, the IceHogs are tough to judge because they’re loaded with players who have played lightly in the NHL but haven’t stuck yet. Nylander, also a wing, has the name recognition, but I’m more interested in the order and length of call-ups for defensemen Ian Mitchell, Wyatt Kalynuk, Isaak Phillips, Jakub Galvas, Nicolas Beaudin and Alec Regula.

Why can’t anyone on this team finish?

Indeed, the Hawks’ finishing is bad. Only 51.8% of their even-strength shot attempts make it on goal — worst in the NHL. And then, only 7.7% of those shots on goal result in goals — 25th out of the 32 teams.

It’s hard to say if the bad finishing is a specific problem or a reflection of an overall bad offense. The Hawks are 29th in even-strength shot-attempt frequency. Their shooting percentages were significantly better last season before they got rid of two of their more efficient finishers, forwards Pius Suter and Mattias Janmark. Another, Kubalik, has worsened significantly this year.

Who should replace Pat Foley as play-by-play broadcaster?

I truly can’t answer this question because I’m at most games in person and not listening to the commentary. But I do find it interesting how resistant to change Hawks fans are. The vast majority seem to want Foley to stay, or — if that’s not possible — for longtime radio broadcaster John Wiedeman to replace him. The Hawks seem keen to hire an outside voice, but they’ll encounter significant backlash if/when they do.

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