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Blackhawks trade rumors: Patrick Sharp deal 'expected' next week, per report

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The first casualty in the salary cap purge unsurprisingly looks to be the highly paid forward.

Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

Update (12:08 p.m. CT): The rumored price on Sharp is massive. We're talking one first-round pick, an "A" prospect and another piece on an entry-level contract. Who knows whether that information is totally accurate but if true, don't expect the team to come close to landing that kind of package.

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A trade involving Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp is "expected" in the next week, according to Brian Hedger of NHL.com. The news comes just a day after the team celebrated its third Stanley Cup in six years with a massive parade and rally in downtown Chicago.

Sharp, 33, has long been considered a trade target given his large $5.9 million salary cap hit and the Blackhawks' other financial commitments. With Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane set to receive massive raises from their new contracts next season, Chicago needs to shed significant money in order to fill out the remainder of its roster.

That means we've heard a lot about a possible Sharp trade over the past few months, and with the playoffs now over, those rumors will hit a fever pitch. The Blackhawks likely don't want to wait to make a deal with the draft looming in a week, and moving Sharp is their best shot at getting back a high draft pick after losing one to rent Antoine Vermette.

Sharp may be coming off a down-year statistically, but analytics show that much of that can be attributed to a change in role rather than declining skill. He's only one season removed from recording 34 goals and 78 points in 2013-14, and showed signs of that game while finishing the Stanley Cup Final strong on the team's first line. Even if he only put up 16 goals and 43 points in 68 games during the 2014-15 regular season, there will surely be suitors interested in a player with Sharp's pedigree.

And now we have our strongest indication yet that a Sharp trade is imminent, although the rest of the details hang in the balance. Where will Sharp go? What will the Hawks get back in return? It's worth keeping in mind that teams probably won't give up too much to acquire an expensive winger who's under contract for two more years, even if he's been pretty spectacular in the past.

If this is the end of Sharp's time in Chicago, it's been a raging success. Over 10 seasons, he's recorded 239 goals and 511 points in the regular season, plus another 42 goals and 80 points in 117 playoff games. Oh, and he won three Cups, too. The move will also open up an alternate captain's spot, which one imagines will go to Kane.