We’ve reached the All-Star break and the Chicago Blackhawks are just four points back of the Minnesota Wild for the Central Division lead, as well as the best record in the Western Conference. This may come as a surprise to some, seeing as headed into the season multiple questions surrounded the Blackhawks, including whether or not they would have the forward to depth to actually compete in a loaded Central Division. Thanks to the early season struggles of the Dallas Stars and my preseason pick to win the Western Conference, the Nashville Predators, the Hawks find themselves sitting in a comfy second place.
The Hawks have relied heavily on rookie contributions this season, just like many believed they would. Lead by rookie forward Ryan Hartman who has contributed nineteen points to go along with a plus eleven rating this season. Chicago has also seen contributions from rookie forwards Vinnie Hinostroza, Tyler Motte, and Nick Schmaltz. Their contributions have put the “Do the Hawks need to acquire a forward” question on the back burner…until now. As good as the rookies have been the need for a top line left wing has become more apparent than ever. Ever since Brandon Saad vacated that wing in the summer of 2015, the Blackhawks have been searching, unsuccessfully I might add, for a replacement.
With only a handful of teams well out of the playoff race the trade market is slim pickings. One of the names I continue to hear is Thomas Vanek, although that was before he suffered an apparent lower body injury about a week ago. Vanek would finally give Johnathan Toews an incredibly skilled forward on his left flank, since the departure of Brandon Saad. Vanek has registered twelve goals and nineteen assists this season, good for second on the team in points. Thomas Vanek could be an effective, not to mention affordable, assist available at this year’s deadline.
The Blackhawks have also been reportedly interested in a couple of Colorado teammates, Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog. The price tag for Duchene is rumored to be incredibly high. One NHL exec has said that the Sakic’s price for Duchene is “bat shit crazy.” This isn’t unexpected. Duchene is an incredible play-maker, who would be an excellent addition for Stan Bowman and the Blackhawks, but do they have cap space to take on his six million dollar a year salary? Better yet, do the Blackhawks even have the assets that Colorado is looking for?
Another intriguing name that I’ve heard is that of former Blackhawk Patrick Sharp. Sharp, who has been plagued by injury this season, is on the block as the Dallas Stars continue to struggle. What a heartwarming story that would be. Patrick Sharp is traded back to the Blackhawks, they go on to win a Stanley Cup and they all lived happily ever after. I’d like to think that I’m a bit of a romantic, but that’s a love story that doesn’t end in happily ever after for the Hawks. Patrick Sharp is a declining thirty-five year old that has managed just eleven points this season. Sharp coming back to the Hawks is a chilling tale of nostalgia, but should not be at the top of the Hawks trade deadline wish list.
The Blackhawks can’t just sit on their hands and watch the deadline come and go, because if they do they’ll find themselves on the golf course by the third week of April yet again. The Hawks don’t need to mortgage the future for a big name like Duchene, but adding a veteran guy like Thomas Vanek or even a guy like Tobias Reider would prove to be beneficial for their playoff run aspirations.
That’s all I’ve got for now, but be sure to follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, or even take a stroll through our Instagram page that hasn’t been updated in I don’t know how long.