The Blackhawks have numerous routes available to them as NHL trade chatter grows.
General manager Stan Bowman said during a taping of the team’s podcast Wednesday that he’s “actively having conversations” with other GMs, even though the April 12 trade deadline is more than three weeks away.
“I don’t know if you would call us a seller or a buyer,” Bowman said. “We’re willing to do a little bit of both, but we’re not going to sell off players we think have a future for us. We’re trying to add players that we think can be part of our future. 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.”
The Hawks could viably take three different approaches to the trade market. First, with abundant salary-cap space this season and next, they could accumulate some valuable prospects or draft picks by taking on another space-strapped team’s bad contract. Bowman confirmed Wednesday he’s open to doing so, and it would make a lot of sense.
The Hawks also have several veterans they could sell off for more picks and prospects. Forwards Mattias Janmark and Carl Soderberg are both pending unrestricted free agents with some value. Center Lucas Wallmark’s contract is also expiring, although he’ll be a restricted free agent; his lack of a steady role makes him expendable if there’s interest. And defenseman Calvin de Haan appears on track to be exposed in the expansion draft, so the Hawks could look to trade him before then.
Finally, as Bowman mentioned, the Hawks could consider acquiring a young player with a contract term that helps both this season — they’re still in a playoff spot for now, despite their recent downturn — and in the future. However, the Hawks must be mindful of the fact they’re currently two contracts away from the 50-contract limit.
The Hawks signed wing Josiah Slavin, their 2018 seventh-round pick, to his entry-level contract earlier this week. Slavin’s two-year deal officially kicks in next season — a move likely done to avoid inching closer to that 50-contract limit right now. He’ll spend the rest of this season in Rockford on an AHL “tryout” contract.
The younger brother of Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin, Josiah played for the Chicago Steel in 2018-19 and then Colorado College the last two seasons. His college season ended last week; he finished with 13 points in 22 games.
The Hawks will need to make decisions by this summer on whether to sign or relinquish the rights to their last four picks from the 2017 draft — defensemen Roope Laavainen, Jakub Galvas and Josh Ess and wing Parker Foo — as well as defenseman Cole Moberg, a 2019 seventh-rounder.
Murphy doesn’t drop gloves
Connor Murphy drew the ire of the Lightning for his illegal hit against Erik Cernak in the teams’ last meeting.
Barclay Goodrow was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the first minute of the game Thursday for trying to goad Murphy into fighting. Several scrums formed around Murphy after whistles later in the game, too.
“I just said no to the fight, and he wouldn’t let it go,” Murphy said. “I chose not to. We’ve been searching for a win these last couple of games. This was a big game for us. I didn’t really want to sit in the penalty box for that long.”