The last few days have brought a series of reports detailing what the Blackhawks could be up to over the next few months, so let’s get right into it:
Jack Eichel trade talks
One such item emerged on Saturday, when Larry Brooks of the New York Post reported that Chicago is one of the teams that has “entered the sweepstakes” to acquire Buffalo Sabres center and team captain Jack Eichel. Brooks further reported that any trade between the two teams would have to include Kirby Dach, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.
Eichel, 24, has played 375 games over six NHL seasons with 139 goals and 216 assists but is yet to appear in the postseason. Next season will be the fourth of his 8-year, $80 million contract signed in 2017 that carries through the ‘25-26 season.
He’s an undeniable talent but the 2021 season was a rocky one for Eichel and the Sabres’ organization. He missed the final 33 games with a herniated disk in his neck and expressed his displeasure with the way the team handled said injury during exit interviews.
Given Eichel’s skills, it’s certainly worth a phone call from Chicago to Buffalo to see what the price would be to make the deal work, and this report may just be confirmation that GM Stan Bowman has made such a call.
Buffalo’s asking price is the key variable here. And based on Brooks’ reporting above, it may come down to this simple debate: would the Blackhawks consider moving Dach to acquire Eichel?
Dylan Strome on the trade block?
Last Thursday, Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun wrote that the Blackhawks are “looking to move” Strome, whom the team acquired via trade in November 2018. Strome played just 40 games in the 2021 season, scoring only nine goals with eight assists.
Considering Strome was a healthy scratch in a few games late in the season, it’s not entirely surprising to see him be named in trade rumors before the postseason has ended. Strome may even be looking for a change of scenery himself, telling reporters during exit interviews that he was “pissed off” by those healthy scratches late in the season.
Strome is under contract for one more season at a $3 million cap hit, a relatively affordable amount for the 24-year-old forward. While he may never live up to the billing of a No. 3 overall pick, it does feel like there’s enough there in Strome’s game to be a worthwhile top-six player — a skill set that isn’t always present in high quantities in the NHL.
Also, if landing a big-name free agent defenseman is something that piques Chicago’s interest, Garrioch also wrote in the article linked above that the Hurricanes are “getting ready to move on” from Dougie Hamilton, who’s an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Nikita Zadorov contract talks
Zadorov is a restricted free agent this offseason, playing in the 2021 season on a salary of $3.2 million. According to reports from Mark Lazerus and Scott Powers of The Athletic, Zadorov is looking for a big-time deal this summer. That’s understandable for the 26-year-old Zadorov, who’s played in each of the last two seasons on one-year deals. But Zadorov’s reported demands would make him the highest paid player on Chicago’s blue line, exceeding Duncan Keith’s cap hit of $5.54 million.
Zadorov is a polarizing figure around these parts but it’d be difficult to find anyone in Chicago who would deem Zadorov’s performance worthy of the biggest salary among Blackhawks defensemen.