As the NHL trade deadline nears, more and more rumors begin to swirl around the Blackhawks and the NHL. It's no secret the Blackhawks are trying to add a top-six winger or a puck moving defenseman at the deadline to solidify their place as Stanley Cup favorites. They've been rumored as the favorite to land Winnipeg Jets forward Andrew Ladd, and are sure to be in on other options such as Mikkel Boedker and Radim Vrbata as well.
However, while they may be considered the favorite for Ladd, there remains the chance they do not end up acquiring the Winnipeg captain at the deadline. There have been reports that one team has already offered a first-round pick and a top prospect for Ladd. It's entirely possible the Blackhawks don't want to give up that much for a rental.
If Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman finds himself priced out of the market for players like Ladd and Boedker, a solid backup option when it comes to forwards would be former Blackhawk and current Toronto Maple Leafs winger P.A. Parenteau.
Parenteau has been a journeyman for most of his NHL career, playing for seven teams since making his debut in the 2006-07 season. He was bought out by the Montreal Canadiens this past summer before signing a one-year deal with the Leafs worth $1.5 million.
The 32-year-old winger has 30 points (15 goals, 15 assists) in 57 games this season, with 20 of those points (9 goals, 11 assists) coming at even strength. He's averaging 1.65 points per 60 minutes at 5v5, and has posted a 52.62 Corsi percentage at evens as well.
Parenteau's production and offensive ability would make him a potential fit on the top line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. Even if he didn't fit next to Toews and Hossa extremely well, he would be a fantastic depth addition to the Blackhawks forward corps. He could slot into the third line with Phillip Danault and Teuvo Teravainen to help make the third line more of a scoring threat, which is something coach Joel Quenneville loves to have.
Given the Leafs current position as a rebuilding team, acquiring Parenteau may not be too expensive for the Blackhawks. Toronto traded Parenteau's linemate Shawn Matthias to Colorado on Sunday for Colin Smith and a fourth-round pick, so they're not looking to sell too high on their short-term assets. Parenteau has been much better this season than Matthias, though, so he may be a bit more expensive.
Perhaps a fourth-round pick and Tanner Kero or Mark McNeil would convince Toronto to send Parenteau to Chicago, and it could take even less than that. Chicago probably would've have to even come close to tapping into higher level prospects like Ryan Hartman or Ville Pokka. Even if it took a third-round pick, it's hard to believe that wouldn't be worth it to add a player like Parenteau to Chicago's depth. Jeff Veillette of The Leafs Nation, who agreed a third-round pick and McNeil would be value for Parenteau, so it appears to be the ballpark the Hawks would be playing in to acquire the winger.
Moreover, acquiring Parenteau's cheap contract could leave the door open for the Blackhawks to make another move to add a defenseman as well, addressing both of their big needs at the deadline. With just shy of $4 million in salary cap space available, with Marcus Kruger not on long-term injured reserve yet, Parenteau's $1.5 million cap hit would still leave the Blackhawks with around $2 million for a blue liner.
It's also possible Parenteau would be inexpensive to re-sign for next season much like Andrew Desjardins was a season ago.
While Parenteau is certainly not one of the bigger names on the market, he could end up being among the most cost effective. He's produced at a level close to Ladd and Boedker, and could be acquired for much less than either of those two. There's a lot of flexibility from adding a player like Parenteau, and Quenneville loves those types of players. If the Blackhawks don't want to give up the resources required for one of the bigger names available, Parenteau would be an effective alternative.
Adam Hess is a staff writer at Second City Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter at @_adamhess.