The Chicago Blackhawks are "trying hard" to move the contract of forward Bryan Bickell, reports ESPN's Craig Custance. We've heard that before, of course, but there's a potentially interesting/worrisome wrinkle included from Custance: "It might take including Teuvo Teravainen in a possible deal to get rid of that contract."
We've heard this rumor of using Teravainen in order to clear Bickell's salary before, but this is the latest and arguably most high profile example. Custance is pretty plugged in as a top reporter for ESPN. While we should naturally take these rumors with a grain of salt, with some pessimistic grumbling seeping out about the salary cap, an aggressive move to shed Bickell's salary could be in the works.
Custance says that moving Bickell's salary would help the team pursue two goals: (a) re-sign restricted free agent Andrew Shaw and (b) make a run at signing veteran former Chicago defenseman Brian Campbell. Now, we undeniably would be thrilled if both those things came to fruition. However, it would be coming at a massive cost if it meant trading Teravainen to make it happen. As Custance says, packaging Teuvo with Bickell is "not an easy deal to make."
But this might be an indication that the Hawks are getting more aggressive in their pursuit to clear Bickell's cap hit, which is one of many chunks of dead weight hanging on the team's books right now. Maybe it's a signal that the team believes the salary cap won't be going up, or might even be going down. In that case, moving Bickell would become an even bigger priority, one that could ultimately necessitate giving up a major asset like Teravainen.
And yet, man, trading Teuvo to clear Bickell's salary would be a punch in the gut. Teravainen has long been viewed as part of Chicago's future, and during his first two seasons with the team, he's earned his detractors but proven to be a very solid two-way forward. And at his age, there's still lots of room to grow.
If anything, rumors like this should tell you just how challenging this offseason will be for the Hawks. The fact that they want to trade Bickell is a no-brainer, but like with Patrick Sharp last summer, it seems like the only deal that might present itself is one Chicago would be losing on paper. We'll just have to see how the circumstances stack up and how desperate they become to pull the trigger.