Chicago Blackhawks at the trade deadline
John Dietz of The Daily Herald (mailbag): The Chicago Blackhawks remain three points out of a playoff spot with lots of teams to hop. Chicago’s plan is not to mortgage to buy. Would they take a bad contract with a sweetener? That appears more likely than straight buying. Also, there are sellable commodities like Corey Crawford, Brandon Saad, and Erik Gustafsson.
Robin Lehner getting sent packing seems unlikely and Chicago tends to want to re-sign him. This is something that may take shape over the next few weeks or months.
Jim Rutherford and the Pittsburgh Penguins
Josh Yohe of The Athletic: The goal is to win now. Jim Rutherford knows this. A top-six winger remains a priority with Jake Guentzel out until May.
“If the right one is out there, then yes, that’s what we’re looking at,” Rutherford said. “I’m not sure if I’d feel that way if Jake were healthy. But Jake’s not healthy. Ideally I’d like to give us more depth and more options in the top six. Can we do that, in terms of the right style of player and the right cost? That’s the ultimate question, but we are looking into it.”
Again, the usual rentals are out there. Chris Kreider headlines that group. If the player fits that style, Jim Rutherford will explore this deadline.
Dan Kingerski of Pittsburgh Hockey NOW: Speaking of those top-six wingers, here are a few quick hits.
Jason Zucker remains the best fit with what the Pittsburgh Penguins do. However, with three years left on his deal at $5.5 million AAV, the price will be high. Remember, the nixed deal for Phil Kessel and the near-deal with Calgary. Bill Guerin won’t give away Zucker.
Chris Kreider screams rental and that may be the way Pittsburgh tries to go. With cap space at a premium, the Penguins. The cost could go up here but if it remains reasonable, count Pittsburgh in.
Andreas Athanasiou represents a wildcard of sorts. Detroit’s forward skates with fire and has a scoring touch. Injuries hampered him this year but an RFA this summer. If he is out there, Rutherford must jump all in.
After that, there are names like Tyler Toffoli and Ilya Kovalchuk. However, wait to see what Ottawa does with Anthony Duclair. That feels like another situation Rutherford could take advantage of.