Chicago Blackhawks: Understanding the Marian Hossa trade

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Blackhawks made headlines Thursday when they were involved in a massive trade with the Arizona Coyotes.

The Chicago Blackhawks made a blockbuster trade Thursday afternoon by shipping out the contract of 3-time Stanley Cup Champion, Marian Hossa, along with forward Vinnie Hinostoza, defensemen Jordan Oesterle, and a 2019 third-round draft pick to the Arizona Coyotes. In return, the Blackhawks received Mackenzie Entwistle, Jordan Maletta, Andrew Campbell, a 2019 fifth-round draft pick, and former Blackhawk Marcus Kruger.

This was obviously a salary cap dump for the Blackhawks as they try to relieve themselves from a financial strangle hold — a hold that has seemingly been in place ever since they signed Hossa before the 2009-2010 season.

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Stan Bowman came into the offseason saying that shedding Hossa’s contract was the teams biggest priority, and to this point, no deals were close. However, the Hawks and Coyotes broke through and made a deal that makes sense for both sides as the Coyotes get two young, NHL-ready players and a draft pick next year, while the Hawks free up much needed cap space.

The most important piece that the Blackhawks got back in the trade is Marcus Kruger. Kruger is a 2-time Stanley Cup champion with the Hawks and was an intricate part of those two teams. He is not as much of an offensive weapon, but he does win face-offs and plays great defense, two things from the center position that the Hawks need badly. Kruger can cover the third line center role very well and be the leader on the Hawks checking line, — seemingly with John Hayden and Chris Kunitz on the wings.

Although getting a solid line-three center was great, the primary reason for this move was to unload salary. The Blackhawks have some major future pieces on their roster whose contracts expire in the next two years — Nick Schmaltz and Dylan Sikura next year, and Alex DeBrincat the year after that.  The Blackhawks know they are going to have to pay up to keep their young studs to have any chance of competing in the near future.

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Schmaltz eclipsed the 20-goal mark this year and figures to be better with another full season under his belt. Sikura should only need a qualifying offer seeing as how he will be a restricted free agent after next year and will only have one full season under his belt. DeBrincat, on the other hand, could have almost 100 goals in the NHL before he is due his next deal, assuming he progresses from his outstanding rookie year. So, he will command a huge pay raise when the time comes.

Although fans will certainly not be happy about Bowman trading away another home-grown Chicago talent that was making strides in his short time at the NHL level, this has to be viewed as a win for the Hawks. Bowman cleared three years of a $5.25 million cap hit off of his books without giving up a first-round pick or a top tier prospect.

Hinostroza was a good young player, but he was not franchise-altering, and was more of a wildcard at times than a bonafide piece of the future. So, while you may be sad to see him go, if Bowman can use the money (be it by trade in the coming days or by a big splash next year), Blackhawks fans will surely be pleased with the freed up cap space.

I am sure Bowman is already working the phones, as there have been rumors of a Max Pacioretty or Jeff Skinner trade in the coming days. If he is able to use the cap space to land one of those left wingers to play on line two with Kane and Schmaltz, then this trade will surely be viewed as even more of a win for the Hawks.  We will see what he has up his sleeve in the coming days.