Meet the Sellers: Chicago Blackhawks

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Ryley Delaney
4 months ago
The Chicago Blackhawks aren’t good at all. With rookie phenom Connor Bedard on the Injured Reserve, the Hawks have been falling down the standings and are again in the mix for a top draft pick.
This is a new series called Meet the Sellers. As the Edmonton Oilers are in a “Stanley Cup of Bust” year, we’re going to look at the teams who have no other aspirations this season other than adding some prospects and picks and jockeying for a better position in the 2024 Draft Lottery.
Before diving into the Chicago Blackhawks, let’s look at some of Edmonton’s needs. Unlike in the previous two articles, the listed needs will be ranked from most needed to least needed.
  • Second-pairing right-shot defenceman: If we learned anything about the game against the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday, is that Darnell Nurse needs a better defence partner. Cody Ceci isn’t a bad defenceman by any means, but he’s out of his depth on the second-pairing.
  • Second-line winger: The Oilers have some elite forwards between Leon Draisatil, Connor McDavid, Zach Hyman, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. However, their second-line wing positions need an upgrade, as Evander Kane has been unnoticeable over his last 20 games, scoring just three goals and seven points. Allowing him to play on the third line while getting a shoot-first winger is the ideal play here.
  • Right-shot defenceman depth: Last season, the Oilers had Jason Demers in the American Hockey League as a backup plan if a right-shot defenceman got injured. Thankfully, the Oilers remained relatively healthy that season and have barely missed any games from their defence this season, but they don’t have a veteran right-shot defenceman in the minors this year.
  • Competent backup goaltender: Stuart Skinner has been one of the league’s best netminders since the Oilers turnaround on November 11, as he has a .926 save percentage over his last 27 games, along with a 22-5-0 record. Calvin Pickard has a .915 save percentage in his eight games. If they acquire a right-shot defenceman who’s an upgrade over Ceci and a second-line winger, they’d be free to look for a netminder.
  • Third-line centre has become less of a need with Ryan McLeod’s improvement over his last 24 games, as he has nine goals and 15 points. If the Oilers don’t trade for a second-line winger, they could move McLeod to the second-line to play with Draisaitl and Warren Foegele while picking up a third-line centre.

Who could the Chicago Blackhawks sell:

The Blackhawks aren’t a good team, but it’s not for a lack of trying. They’ve been without Taylor Hall pretty much for the season, while Andreas Athanasiou, Connor Bedard and Anthony Beauvillier join him on the injured reserve… for forwards. That doesn’t mean that the Blackhawks don’t have some assets to trade away, so let’s look at them!
Tyler Johnson was activated off the injured reserve shortly before I started this article. The right-shot centre has nine goals and 13 points in 35 games this season while scoring 12 goals and 32 points in 56 games the season prior. He has a ton of playoff experience with the Tampa Bay Lightning, winning a cup with the team in 2020-21. Johnson has a cap hit of $5 million, along with a modified no-trade clause.
Anthony Beauvillier is on the injured reserve, but has two goals and six points with the Blackhawks this season. The 26-year-old winger was already involved in a trade this season, as the Vancouver Canucks traded him to Chicago for cap relief. Last season, he has 18 goals and 40 points in 82 games between the New York Islanders and Canucks. The winger has a cap hit of $4.15 million and will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
Ryan Donato has just six goals and 14 points in 46 games with the Blackhawks this season. However, he had 14 goals and 27 points with the 2022-23 Seattle Kraken, and had 16 goals and 31 points the season prior. The centre has a cap hit of $2 million until the end of the 2024-25 season, when he’ll become an unrestricted free agent.
Nikita Zaitsev is a right-shot defenceman who’d fit the “depth defenceman” need that the Oilers have. The 31-year-old has two goals and seven points this season and has been a shutdown defenceman in the league for a long time now. The Maple Leafs signed him to a seven-year, $31.5 million deal with an annual cap hit of $4.5 million after he had four goals and 36 points in his debut season, never coming close to that total again. He’s in the final season of his deal and has a 10-team no-trade list. Zaitsev’s contract may be a little bit too much for a depth defenceman, though.
Seth Jones is Chicago’s power-play quarterback, scoring a goal and 15 points in 35 games this season. He’s just two seasons removed from scoring five goals and 51 points, and had 12 goals and 37 points last season. The issue, of course, is his $9.5 million contract until the end of the 2026-27 season, which includes a no-move clause. A Darnell Nurse-Seth Jones line would be… interesting, but it would likely happen in the off-season if it ever does happen (which it won’t). Still nice to think about, though.
Petr Mrázek would’ve fit in nicely as that “1B” that some believe the Oilers need. This season on the abysmal Hawks, the 31-year-old netminder has a .910 save percentage and a 2.92 goals-against average in 34 games. He’s also played 29 playoff games in his career. However, Mrázek signed an extension with the Hawks until the end of the 2025-26 season worth $4.25 million.

Previously in the series…

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