Although many people had braced for it, this season has already been a miserable one for the Chicago Blackhawks. They’re currently in last place in the Central Division – yes, worse than the Arizona Coyotes – and their 1-8-1 record in their past 10 games is the worst in the league.
Even after they made it clear with their off-season actions that this year was going to be the start of a full-on rebuild, the Hawks are still painful to watch play. Since Oct. 25, their record is 3-11-4. That includes a four-game losing streak and, more recently, an eight-game losing skid. The season is only approaching one-third of the way done, and Chicago is done.
You can see, then, why star forwards Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are going to want out of town, even with all of their history in the franchise’s most recent glory days.
But if Toews and Kane are almost assuredly gone from Chicago, are there others Hawks GM Kyle Davidson will be moving before the NHL’s March 3 trade deadline? Yes, yes there are. Below, you’ll find the five Blackhawks other than Kane and Toews most likely to be traded:
5. Seth Jones, D
Jones is a long shot to be moved, given that he’s in the first season of an eight-year, $76 million contract extension. The 28-year-old has a full no-movement clause, but depending on the desperation of another team – and depending on the willingness of the Hawks to retain a portion of Jones’ contract – we could all be surprised if Davidson can arrange a trade. By the time this Blackhawks team is ready to contend for a Stanley Cup, Jones will be in his thirties, so he may be happy to move on. The most likely scenario, though, is that Jones plays the next couple of seasons in Chicago and the Hawks find a new home for him after that.
4. Jason Dickinson, C
Dickinson is in his first year in Chicago after the Vancouver Canucks dealt him this past summer. He had a disastrous season with the Canucks, posting only 5 goals and 11 points in 62 games. The 27-year-old is faring better this year, generating four goals and 10 points in 20 games as a Blackhawk. Dickinson’s salary cap hit of $2.65 million for this season and next season makes him one of the more intriguing trade possibilities. Another franchise seeking depth down the middle may take a chance on him, and for the return of a third-or-fourth-round draft pick, he’d be worth the gamble.
3. Connor Murphy, D
The Blackhawks have a couple of defensemen who could be on the trade block – journeyman Jack Johnson and 29-year-old Murphy, who has a modified no-trade clause where he can identify 10 teams he wouldn’t accept a trade to. But Murphy is locked up for this season and the next three years, at an annual average salary of $4.4 million. He’s also a right-shot blueliner, and you should know by now how valuable that kind of player is to legitimate Cup-contending teams. Chicago would likely insist on a trade partner assuming all of Murphy’s contract, as although he’s had trouble staying healthy, he’s also one of the better D-men potentially available.
2. Andreas Athanasiou, LW
Athanasiou joined the Blackhawks as an unrestricted free agent last summer, and the 28-year-old winger – at one time, a 30-goal-scorer with the Detroit Red Wings – is a pure rental right now, with his contract expiring this coming off-season. Athanasiou has six goals and nine points in 24 games, but on a better team, his individual numbers would be much better. His current $3-million salary makes him an affordable asset for Cup contenders. It doesn’t make sense for Davidson to hang on to Athanasiou all season, only to have him walk away as a UFA after the season’s end. For that reason, he’s all but a lock to be shipped out of the Windy City.
1. Max Domi, C
Like Athanasiou, Domi signed with Chicago last summer as a UFA. And, as the Hawks’ second-line center, he’s been their leading scorer (with nine goals) and their second-best point-producer (with 19 points) in 24 games. The 27-year-old Domi carries the same cap hit as Athanasiou, and he’ll also be a UFA next summer. Injury-riddled teams that need affordable help up front – Washington, anyone? – will pursue Domi right up until the deadline. It’s hard to see him sticking around in Chicago after this season, so the best thing for the player and the team is to maximize his value and deal him to the highest bidder this year.
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