Picking the Bones of the Chicago Blackhawks

After spending the majority of the last five seasons treading water trying to keep their Stanley Cup team together, after giving it one last failed kick at the can in 2021-22, the Chicago Blackhawks have finally reached a point were they might have to waive the white flag and finally consider tearing down and put an official end to their Cup era. While it’s unclear exactly how far the team will break itself down, one has to wonder if the Blackhawks would consider trading some of their top stars if it meant getting some assets for the future in return.

The Blackhawks’ roster is fairly emaciated these days, a far cry from the powerhouse they were almost a decade ago, and there isn’t much worth scrounging up. Mostly veteran plug-ins, a couple long-standing top players, and a few young guns they may want to build their next incarnation around. It leaves only a few options that would be intriguing adds to the Flyers roster.

If there’s one guy to pluck from the Blackhawks, it’s 24-year-old 2016 second round pick Alex DeBrincat. The Flyers famously passed on the guy in favor of Pascal Laberge during that draft and have majorly regretted it since. He has posted 160 goals and 307 points in 368 career games, including breaking the 40-goal plateau twice.

The Flyers are desperate for a young star. Someone who fits into the mid-20 age range that can actually produce offensively, and DeBrincat fits that bill. He has one year left on his current deal at a $6.4 cap hit, and will more than likely see a healthy pay raise when his deal expires.

He’s the kind of acquisition that won’t be cheap, but will be worth just about any price tag the Blackhawks could dream up.

Another potential option is 25-year-old center Dylan Strome. After being taken third overall in 2015, he has taken the long road to adjusting to the NHL, but he finally had a breakthrough during the 2021-22 season when he posted 22 goals and 48 points in 69 games. The Flyers will be in the market for center depth, again, the younger the better, and Strome, who is a pending restricted free agent may be an interesting option to take a gamble on. Considering they’d just be acquiring his rights and his checkered past production wise, the Flyers could probably get him for a mid-round pick and sign him to a reasonable extension. He was making $3 million a season on his current deal.

What if they want to go big? Like $10.5 million big? Like could’ve (should’ve?) been a Flyer big? 2007 first overall pick Patrick Kane is now just about to turn 34, but that hasn’t slowed his offensive production down at all. He posted 92 points in 78 games during the 2021-22 season, and has recored more than a point-per-game in nine of the last ten seasons, including breaking the 100-point plateau twice, most recently in 2018-19. He’s a guy who has quite literally gotten better with age.

Kane has one year left at a whopping $10.5 million cap hit, which obviously in the current flat-cap era the NHL finds itself in isn’t an easy ask to add to a roster, but there are few players in the league who would be worth that kind of price tag, Patrick Kane being one of them. What would the Blackhawks ask for someone like Kane? It’s hard to tell but it wouldn’t be cheap. But for a player that is the difference between a Stanley Cup and playoff agony, it’d be worth breaking out the check book.

Will the Flyers pursue a trade with the Blackhawks? It’s hard to tell. Somebody like DeBrincat makes a lot of sense for them to try and scoop up, but whether or not they have the stomach to match Chicago’s undoubtedly high asking price becomes the question. Meanwhile Kane’s one year at $10.5 million is a much easier cap dollar to take on in the short term, and the Flyers will be first in line to try and sign him next summer, too. The Blackhawks will be an interesting team to focus on this summer, and we’ll see just how serious they are about rebuilding, but for the time being, Chuck Fletcher should be ready to jump when the green light in given.

By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)

photo credit: insidetherink.com

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