Another NHL off-season and another salary cap hell for the Chicago Blackhawks.  The front office has a tall order to fill yet again.  Although the salary cap has yet to be announced for the upcoming season, Chicago is going to have to trim some fat, or muscle, in some cases.  Marcus Kruger and his $3.083 million contract is likely headed to Vegas along with defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk, according to multiple reports.  The deal is expected to be announced within the next week or so.  Even with Kruger headed to Sin City, the Blackhawks are still going to have to shed more salary.  The rumors have been heating up about the Blackhawks moving a “core player,” so here’s a few who could be packing their bags in the coming weeks.

THE LIKELY SUSPECTS

  • Artem Anisimov:  64GP 22G 23A +9
    • Anisimov has centered the Blackhawks most productive line the past two seasons, but his time in Chicago could be coming to an end.  Do you really need a $4.550 million dollar center between the likes of Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane?  The answer is no if you were struggling with it.  Nick Schmaltz could fill the void between Panarin and Kane if in fact Anisimov gets moved.  Schmaltz has the skill and speed to stick with Kane and Panarin, but his ability to win draws needs some work.  Anisimov does posses a full no move clause which could prove to be a problem when it comes to moving him.  Montreal has been in search of center help, as well as a young team like Buffalo, who certainly has the cap space.
  • Niklas Hjalmarsson:  73GP 5G 13 A +12
    • Niklas Hjalmarsson is a name that has been gaining steam on the rumor front as of late.  Hjalmarsson has a modified no trade clause, where he can provide a list of ten teams he DOESN’T want to be traded to.  Unlike Anisimov, who can veto a trade to anyone, Hjalmarsson doesn’t have that luxury.  He would fetch quite the return due to his steady shutdown style of play and his cap friendly contract.  The list of teams interested is just about everyone.
  • Brent Seabrook:  79GP 3G 36A +5
    • Brent Seabrook’s name has also been garnering a lot of attention on the trade front as of late.  Seabrook could be tough to move due to is no move clause and the fact that he’ll be carrying a $6.875 million contract until he’s 39 years young.  He is however, an experienced defenseman who possesses a howitzer of a shot and can provide leadership to a young team.  We all remember the 2013 playoff series against Detroit when he went into the penalty box to have a discussion with his captain and the rest was history.  For a young team with some cap space and a need for blue-line help, Brent Seabrook could be answer to their prayers, provided he waives his no move clause for said team.
  • Artemi Panarin:  82GP 31G 43A +18
    • Blackhawks fans will hate to admit it, but trading Artemi Panarin may be their best option.  Panarin carries a cap hit of $6 million and unlike the aforementioned he does not have any sort of no trade or no move clause.  Panarin is a young, dynamic scorer who can bring offense to any team that’s yearning for it, not to mention he would fetch quite the return in a trade.  The Islanders could be a team interested, seeing as they are looking for a winger to play with their Captain John Tavares.

Of course there have also been rumors in the blogosphere about the possibility of the Blackhawks moving either Patrick Kane or Johnathan Toews, who both have no move clauses.  The probability of one of the trades going down is highly unlikely.  Not only do each of these guys carry a $10.5 million cap hit, but Stan Bowman and company would expect a king’s ransom for trading the faces of the Chicago Blackhawks franchise.  Whatever decisions the Blackhawks make this off-season will impact this franchise for years to come.  If you were running the Blackhawks who would you move?

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