NHL Rumor Mill – November 7, 2021
What’s next for the Blackhawks after firing their head coach? Will the Stars make a cost-cutting deal soon? Find out in this edition of the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.
WHAT ELSE IS IN STORE FOR THE STRUGGLING BLACKHAWKS?
THE ATHLETIC: Scott Powers wondered what other changes could be in store for the Chicago Blackhawks after interim general manager Kyle Davidson replaced Jeremy Colliton as head coach yesterday with Derek King on an interim basis.
The Blackhawks GM could spend the next 10-15 games to determine if moves need to be made to help the club improve or nudge it toward getting worse and improve their chances of keeping their 2022 first-round pick. That selection was part of the deal in acquiring Seth Jones from the Columbus Blue Jackets but Powers points out the Blackhawks would retain that pick if they finish low enough in the standings and have the draft lottery balls drop in their favor.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly has the details of the conditions for the Blackhawks’ 2022 first-round pick.
Powers feels the Blackhawks have a handful of players they could move this season, suggesting Marc-Andre Fleury and Dominik Kubalik as trade candidates. Fleury, Calvin de Haan, Ryan Carpenter and Kevin Lankinen are among their notable upcoming unrestricted free agents.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury’s struggling behind the Blackhawks’ porous defense. However, there could be playoff contenders willing to bet the 36-year-old netminder will regain last season’s Vezina Trophy-winning form on a better club. His $7 million cap hit, however, could keep him in Chicago until the weeks leading up to the March 21 trade deadline.
Kubalik carries an affordable $3.7 million cap hit and is just two seasons removed from his 30-goal NHL debut. He’s also a restricted free agent with arbitrations rights next summer, which could make him a more enticing option for teams seeking a scoring winger they can keep beyond this season.
Prior to Colliton’s firing, Mark Lazerus pondered the fate of Dylan Strome. The 24-year-old center has been a healthy scratch in most of the Blackhawks games this season and often sees checking-line duty when he gets into the lineup. Given the club’s struggles, Lazerus wondered why they won’t at least move Strome up in the lineup and put him with some skilled linemates.
Lazerus noted the Blackhawks have tried trading Strome for nearly a year, suggesting the recent management change clouded his situation. Even if they could find a team to ship him to, they’d be selling low right now on one of their best trade chips.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks might have to accept a lesser return for Strome. There’s obviously not much of a market for him right now and they’ve done him and themselves no favors by keeping him in the press box for most of this season. Like Kubalik, he’s an RFA with arbitration rights next summer.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Adam Proteau believes there are players the Blackhawks shouldn’t consider trading, such as Alex DeBrincat and Kirby Dach. However, he suggests Davidson should contemplate shopping long-time stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. While they each carry $10.5 million cap hits, they’ve got just one season left on their contracts following this one. Proteau thinks a team poised for a long Stanley Cup run could be willing to take on one or the other.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It comes down to whether Toews and Kane will agree to be moved. Both carry full no-movement clauses and might not be keen to waive them despite the Blackhawks’ struggles. Perhaps that decision is made next summer. It would be easier if they approached management and requested to be traded but there’s no certainty they’ll do that.
LATEST ON THE STARS
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Matthew DeFranks recently reported Stars goaltender Ben Bishop is now technically eligible to come off long-term injury reserve. However, that decision remains with Bishop and general manager Jim Nill.
Bishop’s been sidelined since undergoing knee surgery last fall. The 34-year-old goalie has been practicing with the Stars but they lack sufficient cap space to take him off LTIR. They can accomplish this by sending players to the minors or via trades.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars already have two goaltenders in Braden Holtby and Anton Khudobin. Holtby, 32, has seen the bulk of their starts this season and sports a solid 2.46 goals against average and .924 save percentage. He also carries an affordable one-year, $2 million contract and lacks no-trade protection. Perhaps he becomes a trade candidate when the Stars decide to reactivate Bishop.