The latest rumors/news coming out of Chicago have seemed to put fans in a bit of unrest, and I thought it would be worth it to give an overview of all of the recent trade talk and bring some things to attention.
— Steven Albritton (@StevenAlbritton) June 10, 2017
While I have no idea who this guy is, and he seems to be a sports Anchor in Missouri, I’m going to assume that this move is true based on other recent speculation and just how much sense it makes. Kruger, while being a very valuable piece to this team for a number of years as a integral part of the PK and being a very consistent 2-way center on the 3rd/4th line, has proven to be too costly given the Hawks current cap situation. Chicago is currently ~$4.5M over the salary cap, meaning this could be one of the bloodiest offseasons in terms of cap casualties. Kruger’s contract sticks out like a sore thumb; he is making a smidge over $3M AAV, and simply put, that is too much for a PK specialist that plays ~15 minutes a game. Don’t get me wrong it is going to be hard to replace someone as valuable in such a pivotal aspect of the game, but the money just isn’t right. I would expect someone such as Tanner Kero, a guy who has shown promise in his time with the Hawks this year, to slide into that role immediately. You’re not going to get the consistent penalty killing as you would with Kruger, but Kero is certainly a serviceable 3rd/4th line center. And at a mere $750K, it is a logically-sound move.
A presumable condition of this trade is in exchange for Vegas taking on such a significant contract, they get Trevor van Riemsdyk in the expansion draft, or vice versa. While this does seem like a mutually beneficial move as Chicago probably gets some draft picks, it brings to attention how Chicago’s defensive depth has certainly decreased. Extending Kempny was a solid move, given how inexpensive he is (1 year at $900K). This is sort of a “prove-it” deal as Kempny was very underwhelming in his rookie season. The addition of fellow Czech blue-liner Jan Rutta has certainly added some ‘gusto’ to our defensive corps and is certainly an upgrade from Brian Campbell/Johnny Oduya. When you look back at the Hawks 3 Stanley Cup runs and see the defensive depth there was, it is pretty eye-opening to see how much things have changed. A once overwhelming strength has now become a weakness riddled with liability. This brings me to my next point.
Going through the roster and looking at the current contracts, process of elimination points out that Brent Seabrook (7 more years at $6.875 AAV) is an obvious answer to the Hawks cap problems. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, this is probably right up there with the worst contracts in the league right now. I certainly understand that he needs to be paid for all that he has done for this organization, and no one could possibly see a decline this rapid coming, but I think this is probably one of Stan’s bigger mistakes in his tenure. Signing a 30 year old defenseman to an 8 year extension is an incredible risk no matter who you’re talking about especially for such a large amount of cash, and it has seemed to have gone for the worse. Speculation has pointed to Seabrook going to a team looking for an experienced Top 2 d-man, and the teams that are being linked to this are Toronto and Edmonton. Both teams could absolutely use the help on defense, and with both teams being playoff-ready and loaded up with such young talent, the experience is priceless. But there are a few things to consider: At some point within the next couple years, guys like Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander are going to get some generous extensions, making less and less room to carry on a contract such as Seabrook’s. If Chicago has any hope of moving Seabrook, firstly they’re probably going to have to retain some money. My guess would be somewhere between 1-2 million annually. Even if, we retain 2M annually, 4M AAV for Seabrook is still very high. Niklas Hjalmarrson makes $4.1 AAV and is only 2 years younger to put that in perspective. Because of this, some young talent will more than likely have to be included to sweeten the deal. This is where it is a toss-up. You would like to think Stan will try to throw in a guy like Pokka, but the value still isn’t there as a fellow GM would know how little even Stan values him. The magnitude of Seabrook’s contract is going to command someone in the ranks of Gustav Forsling, Tyler Motte, or god forbid Nick Schmaltz. This situation brings the Bickell/Teravianen trade from last offseason to mind. Obviously there are some differences, but they are the same in that we will more than likely have to give up young/inexpensive talent in order to create marginally more cap space. As a Hawks fan, I would take lingering years of cap woes for 3 cups in 6 years ANY day of the week, but this is still a pretty frustrating time we are in.
This has pissed me off. I can’t believe I even have to include this, but more people are throwing around Kaner’s name in trade rumors than I would like so I feel obligated to do so. I realize there were reports saying part of the core that is not Jonathan Toews is being moved, which technically makes Patrick Kane a possibility, but if you think the Chicago Blackhawks are trading Patrick Kane… a central part of 3 Stanley Cups, the reigning Hart/Lindsay/Art Ross winner, a former Conn Smythe winner, a perennial PPG player, a cornerstone of this franchise and probably the greatest American-born hockey player to play the game… in his prime, then I’m sorry but you are a stupid idiot. While it is true that he currently has more trade value than ever, the value he has on this team is certainly higher than what he would bring in a trade. He has earned every single dollar of his contract and he has done nothing but continue to do so. Kane is responsible for such a significant percentage of the scoring this team produces, he is literally irreplaceable. Also, it just doesn’t make sense from a business standpoint. When you trade a guy like Patrick Kane for a terrible reason such as clearing cap space, you’re going to lose the trust of your fan base. That directly translates into less ticket sales and consequently cheaper tickets, which absolutely kills your profit margins. I can’t even imagine how much money this organization has made and continues to make from selling Kane’s jersey. He’s such an incredible source of revenue, getting rid of him is just asking to lose money. Rocky Wirtz is a smart man and knows not to do this. Also he’s not a stupid idiot and knows this is just dumb.
So that’s all that has been rumored at this point of the offseason, when more speculation comes about and things start to heat up later in the off season, I’ll try to provide as much insight and analysis as possible.