Something needs to change for the Blackhawks

Patrick+Sharp+Colorado+Avalanche+v+Chicago+gEDAOBprw4qlToday’s loss to the Bruins at home and on national television was one of the more embarassing losses the Blackhawks have suffered in recent years. The penalty kill was bad, the powerplay was bad (the PP goal came 5 seconds into the man advantage, so I’m discounting that one), the goaltending was bad, and pretty much everything else was bad. Nothing good can be taken from this loss.

In somewhat of an odd way, maybe the only good thing that came out of this beat down by the Bruins is the fact that this loss and the way the team has played recently cannot be ignored by the Hawks’ management. There was already a ton of talk prior to today about the Blackhawks needing to trade for a defenseman, and possibly another forward as well. After today’s game, the talk is even louder, and rightfully so.

There is a glaring hole in the Hawks’ defensive corps. Michal Rozsival’s lack of defensive ability was yet again showcased today by the Bruins. It’s been a reoccuring theme throughout the year for him. The Blackhawks cannot enter the playoffs having to rely on him to give them quality minutes out of their third d-pairing, because he won’t be capable of doing so.

David Rundblad, while arguably slighty better, isn’t much different than Rozsival in terms of his defensive game. I believe we can throw out Cumiskey, as I don’t see him sticking on the roster once TVR returns.

The Blackhawks need to add another defenseman to the team, and a good one. They also need some sort of “shake up” to the lineup, because right now they are not producing on offense the way that they should be.

Now might be the time to pull the trigger on a Patrick Sharp trade. Sharp is in the midst of a bad season and isn’t contributing to the team in anyway right now. He really hasn’t done much all year. Due to his contract (see my last post for more on that) and his declining role on the team, moving him for a good defenseman might be the way to go. A “shake up” of that magnitude might be what this team needs. If they could acquire a good blue liner for Shaw instead, I’d do that. But you’re going to get more in return for Patrick Sharp most days.

Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune has reported the past couple days that the Blackhawks are interested in Flames forward Curtis Glencross and Hurricanes defenseman Andrej Sekera, who I talked about in my last write up. Both players are in the final years of their contacts, both are making less than $3 million, and both are very good at what they do. If I were Stan Bowman, I’d go for Sekera over Glencross and address the team’s defensive issues with a bang.

Whether it ends up being Sekera, Glencross, Jeff Petry, or some other name, the Blackhawks need to make a change. What they have right now is not working anymore, and probably won’t get them past the first round of the playoffs. I can’t believe I’m actually writing those words, but it’s becoming increasingly true. If they get a good d-man via a trade and Trevor van Riemsdyk returns to the lineup and plays the way he did early in the season, all of a sudden the Hawks’ defense is a lot better and much more prepared for the playoffs.

The trade deadline is 8 days away. A move needs to be made, and it’s all up to Stan Bowman to make it happen.

Blackhawks’ trade targets and pieces

15-_DSC2491-toresizeThe NHL trade deadline is fast approaching (March 2nd). Multiple teams around the league will be looking to somehow strengthen their rosters heading into the final month and a half of the regular season, and the Blackhawks may be no different. I say “may be” because I’m not one hundred percent sure that they are aggressively looking to make a move. “Kicking the tires” on a few players is different than actually trying to acquire somebody.

As I’ve said on here before, the Hawks, if they do make a move, would probably like to add another depth defensemen to the roster. I’m not so sure that they feel comfortable enough with the group of d-men currently on the team. I know I don’t feel too confident about this defensive corps, but that’s just me.

The two biggest names in terms of defensemen that are reportedly on the block are Edmonton’s Jeff Petry and Carolina’s Andrej Sekera.

15-_DSC2491-toresizeJeff Petry (6’3″, 198 lbs) has been buried in Edmonton since making his NHL debut in 2010, and therefore most people don’t know who he is. While the Oilers have consistently been an awful defensive team in recent years, Petry is arguably their best defenseman. This year, he has 4 goals to go with 11 assists, but that’s not really why you’d trade for this guy. He is an above average defender, he’s got a 6’3″ frame, and he is a right handed shot. This would be quite a nice fit for the Blackhawks, who are struggling to get any quality ice time from a guy like Michal Rozsival or whoever the sixth d-man happens to be. Petry won’t come at a very cheap price, but he should be cheaper than Cody Franson who went to Nashville.

139990-330-0Andrej Sekera is more of an offensive defenseman. He finished the 2013-2014 season with 11 goals and 33 assists, and currently has 2 goals and 17 assists this year on a bad Carolina team. At 28 years old, he is a nice puck-moving defenseman and gives you a good left handed shot from the point. His 6’0″, 200 pound body isn’t the biggest, but he’s no pushover. Like Petry, but for different reasons, Sekera would be a real nice fit for the Hawks. The Blackhawks are a fast team that likes their defensemen to skate the puck up the ice and be involved in the offensive game, and that’s exactly what you get with Sekera.

Adding either one of these two defensemen, or someone comparable, to the Hawks’ lineup would instantly make them a better team. The problem is trying to afford these guys.

Right now the Hawks are about as tight against the league salary cap as you can get. Acquiring anyone would mean they’d have to lose someone’s salary off their current NHL roster. Petry has a $3,075,000 cap hit this season, with his contract expiring this summer. Sekera is making $2,750,000 this year, and his contract also expires this summer. To trade for either player, or even an unmentioned player of equal salary, the Hawks would need to trade a “bigger name” in return.

Who might that be?

Well, Patrick Sharp, Bryan Bickell, Michal Rozsival, and Andrew Shaw would all qualify (Shaw and Rozsival are making $2 million and $2.2 million respectively). One of those guys would have to be headed the other way to acquire any solid defenseman who is not on an entry level contract.

While I’m sure no one wants to hear it, Patrick Sharp may be the best option in terms of who to trade. We all know what he’s capable of offensively, but he is on the down slope of his career, he’s in the middle of a sub-par individual season (he’s now on the team’s fourth line), and he is a $5.9 million dollar cap hit. Not only would trading him allow the Hawks to fit a solid d-man into their lineup in terms of salary, but it would also open up a lot of cap space for next season when they are going to have to re-sign guys like Saad, Kruger, and maybe Oduya. And, there aren’t many teams with cap space that would say no to acquiring Patrick Sharp.

Bryan Bickell and his $4 million dollar salary would also open up some cap space for the Hawks if they were to trade him, but dealing him would be a much harder sell than Sharp. I don’t see this scenario happening.

Then there’s Andrew Shaw. It’s no secret that he is one of Joel Quenneville’s “favorites,” but trading him would free up $2 million dollars. Shaw is definitely a replaceable kind of player, especially when you have someone like Ryan Hartman now on the team who is virtually Shaw’s clone in terms of playing style, and maybe even better. Hartman’s call-up raised some questions regarding Shaw’s future with the team, and maybe the Hawks are looking to move his salary.

The bottom line here is that the Blackhawks really do need to make a trade for a quality defenseman. It’s just going to have to come at a higher price. Add in the fact that other teams know the cap situation that the Hawks are in, and they have very little leeway in terms of trying to work out a favorable deal.

If it were up to me, I’d be in favor of moving a Sharp, Bickell, or Shaw if it meant getting a Petry or Sekera in return. You might be saying “Why would you trade Sharp!?” Well, this team has a ton of firepower on their first two lines without Sharp, and when you have guys like Teravainen and McNeill down in Rockford, it is definitely possible to fill Sharp’s absence on one of the bottom two lines. The question is whether or not the management would make a trade like this now as opposed to waiting until the summer. Either way, adding a good defenseman to this team is crucial. Could you imagine if Keith, Seabrook, Hjalmarsson, or even Oduya got hurt and the Hawks had to fill their spot with Rozsival or Rundblad? That would be a nightmare, which is why they need to make a move.