Tommy Wingels

Chicago Blackhawks Trade Deadline Recap

Coming into the 2017-2018 NHL trade deadline the Chicago Blackhawks found them in a situation they haven’t found themselves in over a decade, sellers at the trade deadline. The problem being the ‘Hawks didn’t seem to have a ton of assets to move at the deadline, aside from some depth forwards such as Tommy Wingels, Lance Bouma and Patrick Sharp. One name that popped up as we neared the trade deadline was forward Ryan Hartman, who had noticeably struggled a year removed from a 19 goal season. The ask according to hockey insiders for Hartman was a first round pick plus which seemed like a high price for someone who seems to be a bottom six forward.

Enter the Nashville Predator, who according to ‘Hawks general manager, blew the ‘Hawks away with a deal for Hartman and a 5th round pick for Nashville’s 1st round pick, a 4th round pick and forward prospect Victor Ejdsell. With the acquisition of Hartman the Predators look to be loading up for another Stanley Cup final run and paid a heavy price for it and only time will tell if the known commodity of Hartman out weights the unknowns of draft picks or the undrafted free agent Ejdsell.

Victor Ejdsell

Victor Ejdsell is a big body forward the Blackhawks hope can contribute in the NHL soon.

According to reports the ‘Hawks attempted to sign Ejdsell last season after his MVP season in the Swedish Elite’s second league and has continued to play extremely well in the SHL with HV71 putting up 30 points in 44 games. In post deadline press conference Bowman eluded that Ejdsell could possibly be in North America next season but need to get him into camp before they make that determination.

The Blackhawks weren’t done as they made a deal right at the 3pm ET deadline in which they sent energy forward Tommy Wingels to the Boston Bruins for a conditional 5th round pick, the condition being if the Bruins make it out of the first round of the playoffs or Wingels resigns with the Bruins the ‘Hawks would then receive a 4th round pick instead. This is a deal that is pretty cut and dry, Wingels has been a great player for the ‘Hawks and has filled a ton of roles for them, however he is a UFA at the end of the season and although it sounds like there is a good chance the ‘Hawks bring him back why not gain an asset for the future?

The final piece of news on the Blackhawks front today was the recalling of forward Matthew Highmore for their AHL affiliate the Rockford Ice Hogs. Highmore has had a great first pro season leading the Ice Hogs in goal scoring with 21 goals and 35 total points. Highmore free agent signed in the offseason as an overager from the QMJHL where he played for the Saint John’s Sea Dogs and an extremely productive season in which he led the Sea Dogs to the Memorial Cup.

Matthew Highmore

Matthew Highmore looks to translate his AHL success to the NHL

As the season continues to play out and the ‘Hawks continue to fade from the playoff picture don’t be surprised to see players return from the AHL such as John Hayden and Gustav Forsling but also see some new faces such as Anthony Louis and even highly touted prospect Dylan Sikura who is currently finishing his season at Northeastern.

Although the ‘Hawks are poised to miss the playoffs for the first time since the 2007-2008 season, the future is not as bleak as many might paint it to be. The ‘Hawks will have cap room for the first time in years, a focus on developing team speed to catch up with the rest of the NHL and hopefully better luck with a healthy netminder. Even though playoff hockey is not in this teams future getting a chance to evaluate their future talent will keep watch Blackhawks hockey for the rest of the season.


Blackhawks Sign Five to Open Free Agency


Patrick Sharp Returns to the Hawks with eye on a 4th Stanley Cup (Photo by David Kindler)

As I posted yesterday in the Blackhawks free agency primer I noted that the Blackhawks would likely have a quiet opening to free agency come July 1st and in all honesty it was. The ‘Hawks would go on to make five signings, headlined by the return of forward Patrick Sharp but would also include forward Tommy Wingels, forward Lance Bouma, defenseman Jordan Oesterle, and goaltender Jean-Francois Berube.

We will start with the return of Sharp who at age 35 is in the twilight of his career but offers the ‘Hawks with a low risk, high reward option as his cap hit will only be $800,000 and will give coach Joel Quenneville with a forward that if healthy could play in the ‘Hawks top nine forwards. Health has been an issue for Sharp who has battled through some concussion issues as well as coming off of hip surgery that kept him out of the Dallas Stars line up for the final month of the season. As stated before in previous articles if Sharp can recapture that magic from just a season ago he could be a good value for the ‘Hawks.

The other more significant signing for the ‘Hawks was that of Evanston, IL native Tommy Wingels on a one year deal, terms of the deal were not disclosed. Although we do not have the cap number of Wingels you would have to imagine it does not exceed $1 million after two sub-par seasons with the Sharks and Senators. Wingels is another good value for the ‘Hawks and figures to be in the mix for the ‘Hawks bottom six and although did struggle the last two was has scored 15 goals twice in his 7 year NHL career. Analytics place Wingels as a solid fourth line wing that has the versatility to slide over to the center position which GM Stan Bowman values. The flexibility and low price tag make this a solid  addition to the ‘Hawks forward crop.


Oesterle hoping to help stablize Hawks defensive depth (Photo by Connormah)

The ‘Hawks then went on to add a depth defenseman in Jordan Oesterle who has played in 25 career NHL games over three NHL seasons totaling 5 assists and a plus-minus rating of -4. Oesterle, depending on his performance in camp, figures to be either a top pairing defenseman for Rockford or a 7th/depth defenseman for the the ‘Hawks. Announced the same time as the Oesterle signing was the signing for net-minder Jean-Francois Berube, 25, who has spent two seasons in the New York Islanders system in which he has spend 21 games with the NHL club and posted a 6-4-3 record and 3.11 save percentage. Berube and newly signed Anton Forsberg figure to compete for the ‘Hawks back up goaltender position and as Bowman stated during his noon teleconference it is necessary to have three NHL quality goaltenders in the system.

The final sign of the day, thus far, is that of forward Lance Bouma who his entire career, six season, with the Calgary Flames. Bouma is another one of those depth bottom six players that the ‘Hawks have added on July 1st and this was a signing that confused many a ‘Hawk fan in that this team is already flush with bottom six forwards and how does this addition make the ‘Hawks better today. Bouma who plays a physical style of hockey has never had a propensity to put up points did have one season in which he put up a surprising 34 points for Calgary. He would however plummet to 7 points in each of the next two seasons. Again Bouma figures to be a fourth line player  or depth forward on this ‘Hawks team and if he can recapture what happened in that 2014-2015 season he could be another one of those high risk high reward signings.

It is difficult to judge a team on July 1st still three months away from hitting the ice on opening night but from what the ‘Hawks have done today they are very much the same team leading into it. A team that looks like it could have difficulties scoring and very inexperienced on the blue line, however it has been reported by 670 The Score’s Jay Zawaski that the ‘Hawks are still likely to sign a depth veteran defenseman. If the ‘Hawks are able to get some quality veteran help on the back end this is could be a solid free agency period for the ‘Hawks but as this team sits currently 2017-2018 might be a step back for the Blackhawks.

Chicago Blackhawks Free Agency Primer

Tommy_Wingels_2016July 1st is a holiday for the hockey community in which NHL fans get to watch as their team make moves to steer the course of their franchise into the coming year. For Blackhawks fans however July 1st many times is a waiting game to see what pieces will be moved to get them underneath the salary cap and this year like many of the past will be no different with maybe a few wrinkles. According to Cap Friendly the ‘Hawks currently sit over the cap by $2,995,628 but the team is a bit of a rough draft with the Cap Friendly listing them with 14 forwards, 6 defensemen and 3 goaltenders.  With maneuvering the roster to a size of 22 player (13 forwards, 7 defensemen and 2 goaltenders) the ‘Hawks more realistically sit at a with a cap overage of $2,590,628 meaning moves will need to be made to field a roster this fall.

The most anticipated move to occur after July 1st would be the constant rumored trade of center Marcus Kruger to the Vegas Golden Knights for a pick. If this is too be believed this move helps get the ‘Hawks under the cap by almost $500,000, not enough to sign a player and just enough to help them scrape by with a minimum roster size. Although there is a lot of discussion of the ‘Hawks placing Marian Hossa on LTIR in order to increase their spending budget and to field a competitive line up but the NHL has yet to give their ruling on Hossa’s potential use of LTIR. In theory the ‘Hawks may have a little bit to spend on July 1st but it is unlikely they will not be in on the big free agents of the summer so let’s take a look at some of the players the ‘Hawks may look at to strengthen the depth of their lineup.


Sam Gagner C/LW

Coming off of a bounce season with the Blue Jackets in which he scored 50 points, 18 of which came on the power play. Gagner could fill a spot on the Blackhawks power play and give them another option at center or on the left wing. Price could be an issue as he figures to cash in on a strong season but if the price is right Gagner would be a solid add.

Tommy Wingels LW/RW

An Evanston, IL native who is coming off of two down season with the San Jose Sharks and Ottawa Senators however Wingels has scored 15 goals twice in his career and could be a solid value to fill out the bottom six forwards.

Patrick Sharp LW

As of writing this 670 The Score’s Jay Zawaski is reporting that the Blackhawks will likely be signing Sharp come July 1st and will take a contract under $1 million. This could prove to be a good depth signing for the ‘Hawks but as in past season bringing in player past their primes on these incentive heavy contracts. Signing Sharp will provide the ‘Hawks with some good depth scoring and another option to help a struggling power play.

Karl Alzner D

The most unlikely of the ‘Hawks targets as reports have Alzner asking for $5 million plus per season at around 5 to 6 years. Reports have linked Alzner to the ‘Hawks but some major roster moves would have to occur for him to find his way to Chicago. Alzner would project to be a second pairing defenseman with the ‘Hawks but still come with his question and such a thin free agent market Alzner likely prices himself out of Chicago.

Brian Campbell D

Campbell is an interesting case, he didn’t have a terrible year back with the ‘Hawks putting up 17 points points in 80 games. Campbell clearly is not the same player that he was as he nears 40 years old. Campbell could also be a good value signing for the ‘Hawks as he would provide some security for the ‘Hawks who are now extremely young on defense with the departure of Niklas Hjalmarsson.

We are only a few short hours away from start of free agency and this is just a taste of some of the names linked to the ‘Hawks. Soon we will have a clearer picture of what the ‘Hawks will look like as the offseason gets into full swing.