Chicago Blackhawks: Cap Space and Trade Rumors
Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks have jumped out of the hole they found themselves in at the end of January, winning three of their last four. With the Hawks sitting atop the Central Division, they look to be in good position before heading into the Olympic break. There’s just one more game against Phoenix, and there’s a 20 day period of no Blackhawks hockey.
Besides cheering on the ten players that made an Olympic roster, Blackhawks fans should be thinking about two essential questions: What is going to happen with Hossa’s contract? What’s going to happen at the trade deadline?
First is first, Hossa’s contract. The Blackhawks may have locked in a sweet deal with Hossa helping to pave the way to two Stanley Cups, but the fact of the matter is Chicago has a tight salary cap. With Keith, Kane, and Toews, it’s getting to look less and less feasible to keep him while still trying to continue to build up.
That’s not to say Hossa isn’t valuable, but he is 35 and taking a sizable cap-hit on the team. If the Hawks want to resign Kane and Toews next year, something has to change. Hossa’s also had a little injury trouble this season, missing 5 games for a lower-body injury. Maybe he will retire before his contract is up, but Hossa is a consistent player that likes to win. It’s possible the Hawks could trade him next season, which leads into the next question.
The trade deadline is right after the Olympic break, so what are the Hawks going to do? Rumor has it the Blackhawks are shopping for a number two center. Assuming the Hawks are able to work with their projected cap space ($495,822: source), there are a handful of UFAs that might be interested.
David Legwand of the Predators still has a no-trade clause, but he could be asked to remove it. The Blackhawks could certainly entice him with an offer. The 6’2” centerman was a first-round pick in 1998, and has been in Nashville since. He holds most of the team’s records, including games played, goals, assists, and points. He’d be a good fit for the Hawks with his skillset and leadership experience. He’s also never won a Stanley Cup.
Matt Mouslon is also on the market, with the revelation that at least 12 teams are interested in him. He’s a lock to be dealt on or before the trade deadline, and he’d be a good fit for the Blackhawks’ second line. He leads the Sabres in points this season, and has a relatively low cap-hit of $3.13 million. He has had a little injury trouble recently, but with the Olympic break coming up, he will hopefully heal up and be back on his game.
The Blackhawks have tough choices to make with contracts and rental players, but all of this is a moot point if the team doesn’t perform up to standards after the break. Their job is to keep winning and improve their already good position in the West. They’ve got tough competition in the Ducks and St. Louis has four games in hand even though they are only four points down.
The excitement of the Olympics will overshadow all the aforementioned tasks, but the jury will be out during the next 20 days to make some important decisions.