Tuesday, February 24, 2015 will forever be one of the worst days/nights in Chicago sports. During the first period of the Blackhawks’ tilt with the Florida Panthers, NHL points leader Patrick Kane was cross checked from behind and fell awkwardly into the boards. It was instantly obvious that he severely injured his left arm in some way. Then about two hours later, news broke that Derrick Rose had re-torn the meniscus in his right knee. Both are expected to miss a lot of time. While the Rose injury is definitely sad and horrible for him and the Bulls, I’ll only focus on Kane and the Hawks here.
It was reported today that the Blackhawks are expecting Kane to miss somewhere near 10 weeks. The details of the injury are still not completely known, but it is certain that he’ll be out for some time. This prompted the Hawks to place Kane on long term injured reserve (LTIR). By doing this, Patrick Kane’s salary no longer counts towards the Hawks’ salary cap.
Also in response to Kane’s injury, the Hawks recalled Teuvo Teravainen back up from Rockford. He had just been sent down not long ago.
Meanwhile, Stan Bowman and the Hawks are presumably still looking to acquire a defenseman before the March 2nd trade deadline.
So, clearly a lot to digest here. Let’s start with Stan Bowman and the trade deadline.
With Kane now out of the lineup until possibly the playoffs, the Blackhawks have a big hole to fill on the roster. Since Kane has been placed on LTIR and his salary no longer counts towards the Hawks’ cap hit, the team has roughly 5 million dollars that they could theoretically spend on new acquisitions. These possible acquisitions would have to be guys who currently have a contract that expires this summer, basically making them rental players. Another thing to note is that the league salary cap disappears in the playoffs, meaning Kane could return in the postseason and his contract wouldn’t mean a thing to the team’s cap hit.
A few names come to mind regarding forwards the Hawks should/could look to target. The first, and maybe the biggest, is that of Antoine Vermette. Vermette is a 6’1″, 198 pound center and currently plays for the Arizona Coyotes. He has a $3.75 million dollar cap hit, which may be a bit higher than the Hawks would like, and is a free agent this summer. He would fit real nice with the Hawks. Last season, he finished with 24 goals and 21 assists, and also won over 56% of his faceoffs. This year he has 13 goals, 22 assists, and is still winning 56% of his draws. Brad Richards has not really performed the way a true number two center should, and Andrew Shaw is really not a center. Adding another real center to the lineup (besides Toews) who wins faceoffs with regularity would be big, especially when you consider the quality of centers the Hawks will face in the playoffs.
Another name is Curtis Glencross, who I’ve talked about before so I won’t get into too much detail about him again. Glencross is a two time 20 goal scorer with speed. The way he plays would fit well with the style the Hawks like to play.
Two other names that I was going to mention were Daniel Winnik and Jirri Tlusty. However, both were just traded within the last hour, so that eliminates those two options for the Hawks. The fact that both guys were just traded (the day after Kane gets hurt) makes me believe that Stan Bowman needs to act quickly to make a deal. Teams know that the Hawks might be looking for a replacement for Kane, and therefore they are ramping up their pursuit of additional forwards.
Aside from looking to fill Kane’s hole in the lineup, the Hawks still need another defenseman. In fact, they need a defenseman more than they need a forward to replace Kane. It has been reported that they are actually looking into Andrej Sekera of the Carolina Hurricanes, who I have also recently talked about in a previous blog or two. If they can land Sekera, that would be really big. Jeff Petry has also been linked to the Hawks within the last day or so. Like Sekera, I wrote about Petry not long ago, so look at my previous posts for information on him.
Of course, if the Hawks trade for anyone, it will come at a price. Whether that price is Patrick Sharp, Andrew Shaw, Bryan Bickell, or Antti Raanta, as well as prospects/picks, someone is likely leaving town. Just keep that in mind. There have also been rumors surfacing that there is some disfunction in the Hawks’ locker room right now, and some people believe Patrick Sharp is the source. Whether or not that’s true, who knows. If it is true, he may be the man on his way out.
I mentioned earlier that Teuvo Teravainen was brought back up from Rockford today to fill the empty roster spot left by Kane. Despite everything I just said about the Hawks looking to trade for a forward, this may be Teravainen’s time to shine. The sole reason that he was sent down to Rockford recently (according to Quenneville) was because there was no room for him on either of the top two lines for the Hawks. Well, now there’s a glaring hole at right wing, Teuvo’s natural position, on the team’s second line. I would imagine he’ll slot right into that spot in the lineup and be given the chance to earn a spot on the playoff roster. At the same time, the Blackhawks may be looking to trade for someone to fill that spot. If it were up to me, I’d set my sights on Vermette (who would likely center the second line, thus still leaving right wing open for Tevuo) and Andrej Sekera. Sekera should be priority number one. If you can’t get Vermette, then don’t trade for a forward at all.
Everything just got extremely interesting with the Hawks now that Kane is out. A defenseman should be their top priority, but if they can get an Antoine Vermette as well, go for it. If that happens, and you then add Kane back into the lineup for the playoffs, we’re looking at a pretty good team.
Update: Andrej Sekera has just been dealt to the Kings. So there goes that. The clock is ticking for Bowman and the Hawks.