Blackhawks, Jets have ‘kicked tires on’ Ryan Hartman trade, per report

An interesting possibility even if a deal seems unlikely.

Chicago Blackhawks forward Ryan Hartman is among several players the Winnipeg Jets have “kicked [the] tires on” for a potential trade before the Feb. 26 deadline, reports TSN’s Darren Dreger. There’s no word of whether talks progressed at all or there’s any reason to believe a deal is imminent.

Hartman is listed along with Rick Nash, Mike Hoffman, Patrick Maroon, and Mark Letestu as players that the Jets have discussed with other teams. Winnipeg is looking to make its first playoff run since 2015 and apparently wants to target forward depth in order to shore up its chances.

It’s unclear whether the Blackhawks are interested in trading Hartman, their 2013 first-round pick, or what the Jets might offer. A deal for draft picks might make sense, as we saw with the Michal Kempny deal Monday, but a more ideal target would probably be another RFA in young defenseman Josh Morrissey.

However, there’s no reason to think that Morrissey is available or Hartman would be enough to land him. It’s just that a Hartman-plus for Morrissey deal would probably be the best sort of outcome there.

Part of why the Blackhawks might consider offers for Hartman is that he’s a restricted free agent this offseason. The forward has earned a raise from his $863,333 cap hit with 28 goals since the start of last season, but he’s not quite an integral part of the team’s lineup. And while a new contract won’t break the bank — let’s say two years, $4 million — it’s enough to at least see what other teams might give up for him.

There’s also the fact that the Blackhawks don’t have many good trade candidates right now. The highly paid players all have trade protection other than Brandon Saad and Connor Murphy.

People keep bringing up Artem Anisimov but he also has a full no-movement clause until July 1 (when it becomes a partial no-trade clause), so the field of options is limited for him right now. While there’s word that the team wants to keep him, I’m not so sure that it’s not simply posturing for the moment because there are so few teams to which he’ll approve a midseason deal.

And if you’re not moving guys like that, then Hartman is one of the bigger pieces the Blackhawks can at least discuss with other teams. It makes sense to have those conversations and see what other teams are willing to offer.