To say this season has been a disappointment for the Blackhawks and their friends would be a massive under statement. The Hawks currently sit seven points out of a playoff spot and are not trending in the right direction to jump four teams to make it into the playoffs. The Blackhawks do have 29 games remaining and are projected to have about a 13% chance of making the playoffs. So heading into the trade deadline many are wondering what the Blackhawks strategy will be, they don’t have a ton of valuable assets aside from some depth defensemen and some gritty forwards and they don’t seem like a team looking to rent a player for the playoff run, see Anthony Duclair deal. So the thought is the ‘Hawks might be quite at the deadline for the first time in a while and honestly that was my thought until hearing about the “request” Josh Leivo made this week to be traded out of Toronto.
Leivo has walked back his comments in recent days with the Toronto media stating, “I just want to play hockey. I do want to play for the Maple Leafs, that’s why I signed for another year but at the same time, I just want to play.” Nevertheless this has unquestionably shaken Leivo’s future with the Leafs which seemed to be in question any way with players like Kasperi Kapanen being recalled from the AHL and leapfrogging him in the lineup. Leivo’s frustration are warranty in that he just at the beginning of the season signed an extension with the Leafs, thinking he was going to be an NHL regular but hasn’t drawn into the lineup since December 31st and has only gotten into 12 games this season.
Now the question comes, why would the ‘Hawks want a guy that has been in the press box for most of the season. The simple answer is the ‘Hawks need to get younger, faster and have an eye on the future and honestly Leivo checks many of those boxes. Although Leivo only has three points to his name this season and 21 in 53 career games, the third round pick from 2011 looked as though this year might be his break through after registering 10 points in 13 games last season with the Leafs. This season however after a weak camp and less then stellar play in his limited playing time Leivo appears to be a good buy low candidate and could be the type of player to inject some needed fire into the ‘Hawks lineup.
Leivo is also not a rental considering he is signed for the rest of this season as well as next season for a reasonable $925,000 cap and would also be a RFA after the 2018/2019 season. He is also a relatively young player, turns 25 in May, and after the turbulent season that he has had in the Canadian capital one would think he would be driven to prove the Leafs management they were wrong about him. Although I think it is a bit of a long shot that the ‘Hawks will go after Leivo if they are looking for an injection of life into their sputtering lineup Leivo could be a inexpensive and effective addition.