NHL trade deadline slowly creeping into Blackhawks’ consciousness

Marc-Andre Fleury, Calvin de Haan and Dylan Strome headline a long list of Hawks players who could be moved by March 21.

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Blackhawks interim coach Derek King knows he’s inevitably going to lose some of his players in trades soon.

Blackhawks interim coach Derek King knows he’s inevitably going to lose some of his players in trades soon.

Nam Y. Huh/AP

The first major move of the NHL trade season went down Monday, with Tyler Toffoli moving from the Canadiens to the Flames for two draft picks, a prospect and a depth forward.

That hefty haul — headlined by a first-round selection — is surely exciting to see for the Blackhawks, who will be eager sellers (just like the Canadiens) in the coming weeks.

There’s still more than a month left until the deadline March 21, although the action might start more in advance than usual considering how abnormally late the deadline is this season. The Hawks probably won’t do anything groundbreaking until they name their permanent general manager.

But the imminence of the deadline, the mounting buzz and the inevitability of numerous trades occurring eventually has entered the Hawks’ consciousness.

“Hey, we all want these guys to play for the Hawks and make this organization get back on track again,” interim coach Derek King said Monday. “But that’s obviously not going to happen. These guys are going to move on and go somewhere else. They got to realize that, too.”

Pending unrestricted free agents Marc-Andre Fleury and Calvin de Haan are the Hawks’ biggest trade chips. They rank third and 13th, respectively, in TSN’s leaguewide trade-bait rankings.

The Hawks happily would deal fellow pending UFAs Ryan Carpenter and Erik Gustafsson, too, if another team was interested. Pending restricted free agents Dylan Strome and Dominik Kubalik have been on the market for months already, even though there are persuasive arguments for keeping both. 

Brandon Hagel is virtually off the table, a source said recently, but Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reported Monday the Hawks have been offered the juicy combination of a first-rounder and prospect for him.

And almost everyone else on the roster can’t be completely sure they won’t be part of a surprise move.

“It’s never easy, the trade deadline,” King said. “I’ve been a part of it. I know what goes on with that. It’s more just communicating with those guys . . . [that] if it happens, [it] happens. You can’t control that.

“These guys just have to focus on each day. If they play well, compete and do all the right things, then, yeah, we might win some hockey games. But they might [also] open some eyes to some of these teams looking for a player at the deadline.”

It’s still officially unknown whether Fleury — who has been promised control over his trade fate — is willing to leave the team midseason. 

Gustafsson said Monday the deadline is “not really” on his mind, but he sounded frustrated to have been a healthy scratch in the Hawks’ first two games after the All-Star break before returning Monday.

“I’ve been through this [process] a couple times, so I know what it is,” he said. “I want to be here in Chicago, so I’m going to do all I can. It’s fun to be back in the lineup.”

And then there’s the Strome situation, which has been on everyone’s mind all season long. 

Strome has been fantastic lately, entering Monday with 14 points in his last 13 games. That might be increasing or decreasing the odds he’s traded, depending on how one looks at it. Patrick Kane notably argued Saturday in favor of retaining him.

“It’s pretty obvious if you give him a chance in a top-six role and on a power play, he’s going to produce,” Kane said. “That’s just the fact — ever since he came into Chicago.

“To be honest with you, I feel like keeping a guy that’s that young is probably a better solution. [Strome] can be part of the future here. Especially when you give him a chance and he shows that he can do it, time and time again.”

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