The Chicago Blackhawks are shopping prospects Ville Pokka and Mark McNeill before the NHL trade deadline, reports The Athletic’s Scott Powers. Teams have until 3 p.m. ET on Wednesday to complete deals for the rest of the season.
Pokka and McNeill have been two of the Blackhawks’ top prospects in recent years, but both players’ careers have sputtered. They’ve been regularly passed over by younger prospects, and now it appears they could be counting down their final hours with the organization.
The real catch here would be Pokka, who was rated No. 3 among Hawks prospects in our midseason update. The 22-year-old has been well-regarded since Chicago acquired him in the Nick Leddy trade, and he’s been one of Rockford’s key contributors over the past couple seasons.
Pokka has never gotten a chance at the NHL level, as the Blackhawks went with Gustav Forsling and Michal Kempny to open this season. He’s still blocked from an obvious opportunity now, so it appears the team may be trying to maximize his value as a young, cheap right-handed defenseman before teams start losing interest.
That’s what happened with McNeill, a former first-round pick who cleared waivers in October. The fact that every team passed on acquiring him for free back then signals that he won’t fetch much in a trade, and he hasn’t helped his cause much with a poor year at the AHL level.
McNeill had not demanded a trade as of late January, but it seemed apparent even then that he was ready for a change of scenery. Over the next 24 hours, we’ll see if he and/or Pokka gets one.