STURM UND DRANG: The Trade Deadline
There are some points that are beyond dispute:
- The Chicago Blackhawks need to shed a significant amount of salary between now and Opening Night for the 2010-11 season
- The Chicago Blackhawks are genuine Stanley Cup contenders
- There are players who have contracts expiring at the end of the season, and some of these players are very good.
So, naturally, any top-tier player with an expiring contract will get his name thrown into any trade speculation involving the Blackhawks. For the purposes of not wanting ESPN Insider to poach any more of our stuff, and not wanting to be bothered telling people to calm down, we won't bother suggesting which Blackhawks players should be traded.
Oh, and one other reason. The Blackhawks don't need to make any trades.
All that stuff about them being Cup contenders, and running away with the Central Division? Why would you go out of your way to screw with what obviously works? Getting a superstar-caliber player would involve moving so many players that you'd basically undergo a rebuilding in the middle of a season where everything's already going right.
The two names that keep getting bandied about are Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk and Anaheim's Scott Niedermayer. It bears mentioning that both these men are their respective teams' Captain.
Kovalchuk is one of the most electrifying players in the NHL. He has the misfortune to receive his mail in Atlanta, where one NHL franchise has already failed, and the Trashers are coding. He's had a decent linemate here and there in his career, including the Hawks' Marian Hossa. However, he's never skated on a line that has featured a real playmaker. Imagine for just a second, his skating on a line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
OK, done? Now then...one of the big reasons for the Hawks' success this season has been the team's commitment to their responsibilities in the defensive zone. Whatever awards and accolades may come Kovy's way, you can rest assured the Selke Trophy isn't among them. You might argue that he really doesn't need to hold up his end since he's an elite scorer. It's true, he's in the Top Ten in NHL scoring, currently ranked #9. Know what else is true? The guy ranked #6 in scoring has managed to make a quantum leap in his defensive game this season...#88 in your program.
Niedermayer. Another interesting case. A veteran defenseman, leader, name on the Cup, all that. In fact, our friend Al Cimaglia talked about him on our Puckcast, and wrote a piece over at his place about the possibility of the Hawks' acquiring him. As with Kovalchuk, what would he really add? Leadership? Would you take the "A" off Dunc Norris'™ sweater in order to give it to Niedermayer? Besides, where would you skate him? Second pair? That might not be the best idea, since you can draw a direct correlation to Niklas Hjalmarsson joining Brian Campbell on the ice and Campbell skating like a $7 million defenseman. So you'd have to give up 2 or 3 guys in order to get a "veteran leader" who would skate 10-12 minutes a night.
And how much Stanley Cup leadership do they really need? You've got 3 Cup-winning players already (Madden, Ladd, and, yes, Kopecky), Hossa was in the Finals the last two years, and pretty much everyone else skated to the Western Conference Finals last season together. This isn't a batch of playoff virgins.
It ain't broke. It don't need fixing.