Well if you are still reading, I have been avoiding updating about the trade deadline like the plague. I hate it. Well, I love it, but I also hate it. I cannot stand the never ending supply of rumors and trade scenarios. It is maddening to hear, because they are wrong 99 percent of the time.
But dammit, I can't leave this one alone.
Source: #Blackhawks and Capitals have had dialogue about possible trade involving Patrick Sharp.That is Chris Kuc, the Chicago Blackhawks beat writer, a respectable beat writer, for the Chicago Tribune. If it was Eklund, HockeyyInsiderr or however many extra y's and r's that guy tends to have, I could just close down my laptop and carry on with my day without a care in the world. But this one actually kind of means something. I cannot leave this one alone. Because if this happens, it will be awesome.
— Chris Kuc (@ChrisKuc) February 28, 2015
But could it actually happen?
I initially brushed it off, because no, I don't think it could happen. Here's why.
Why would the Blackhawks trade one of their best scorers after losing Patrick Kane for 12 weeks? Trade rumor makes 0 sense.
— Ed Frankovic (@EdFrankovic) February 28, 2015
That's exactly right. As soon as that injury happened, and the Blackhawks learned they were going to be without their best offensive player, the collective understanding was that the Blackhawks got a bit more aggressive in trade talks, specifically looking for a forward along the lines of Antoine Vermette. A lot of teams would just pack it in after losing their best player, but not Chicago. They are still quite easily good enough to make it to the Stanley Cup again, as they seem to make a deep run each and every year. Why would they actively shop for forwards, and still plan on shipping out one of their best offensive forwards? It just doesn't make sense.
Ok, fine. Sharp is having a pretty bad year as far as Sharp goes. The guy has 10 goals and 32 points, which is actually still respectable. What is troubling is that he is scoring on just 5.9 percent of his shots, which is uncharacteristically low for him. In fact, his career average is 11.4 percent. Even worse, he's scoring on just 1.8 percent of his shots at even strength, which is unfathomably low.
But even still, Sharp poses a scoring threat every time he is on the ice. And the fact that he still has 32 points when he is shooting uncharacteristically low is pretty mind-boggling. It just doesn't make sense for the Blackhawks to trade him right now.
The whole reason why they want to trade him is because of his cap hit. Sharp has a $5.9 million cap hit over the next two seasons. The Blackhawks would like to part with him to free up some cap space, especially with the start of the two mega deals with Kane and Jonathan Toews, where each will have a $10.5 million cap hit. That's huge.
But again, that issue wouldn't affect the Blackhawks until next year. It makes so much more sense to just keep him now, and look to deal him at the draft. This is especially true with the Kane injury. If the Blackhawks trade him away, it will essentially look like they are giving up on the season, which is pretty odd. There is just no way they wheel and deal at the deadline and bring in multiple guys that could fill the holes left by Kane and Sharp.
So is there any possible reason why they would trade him at the deadline? Well, maybe.
They may want rid of him for other reasons beyond money.
Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo! Sports' Puck Daddy wrote an article on Thursday about the possibility of a Blackhawks locker room confrontation. Two different Chicago-related sports analysts have come out and said that there are plenty of locker room problems within the Blackhawks organization, and one hinted at a possible fist fight in the locker room after the Kane injury. Whether or not that particular rumor is true, this is not the first time there have been rumors of issues within the Chicago locker room. In fact, they may be revolving around Sharp. In Wyshynski's article, he sites The Committed Indian, who had this to say about Sharp after receiving numerous reports from people he claimed could be trusted sources this past Summer.
"There are of-ice issues with Sharp. There may have been a physical altercation with a teammate (and a very important one). Let's just say the image of Sharp as a wholesome family man with his two daughters is not an accurate picture. There may be other problems."
That is an extremely interesting accusation. And we've recently seen instances in sports of guys being traded away from a team simply for being a nuisance. You probably thought that was going to be about this, didn't you?
So maybe they truly do just want rid of him. And there's really no way of knowing whether or not Sharp could potentially be a locker room problem for the Caps. So it's just a risk they'd have to be willing to take. But, I think everyone can collectively admit that's probably a low risk, high reward-type situation.
|Via Flickr User calmstorm|
What would they want?
The Blackhawks would head into this deal with two goals in mind. They would first want to get a player they can still use on the team for a Stanley Cup run, and considering they just traded for Kimmo Timonen and they would be trading away a forward themselves, they will probably want a forward. And secondly, the whole point of trading Sharp in the first place would be to free up money for next season, so ideally that player would either be an upcoming unrestricted free agent (simply because I don't think the Caps would ship out the restricted player options).
So if we are basing the trade off of that criteria, they would be looking at Joel Ward, Eric Fehr, Jay Beagle or Aaron Volpatti.
There is absolutely no way Chicago wants Volpatti. The Capitals don't even want Aaron Volpatti. There is also absolutely no way the Blackhawks would want Jay Beagle. He's just not the player they are looking for.
That leaves Fehr and Ward as the only realistic options.
I don't think the Caps would part with Fehr. He has been one of the most important pieces for the Capitals this year. He's fourth on the team in goals with 17. Plus, he's been playing as a center for the entire year. The Caps desperately need centers, and on top of that, the Blackhawks don't really need a center.
I think Joel Ward is the best option in this instance for both teams. Ward is realistically a third line guy with second line potential. The Blackhawks would be satisfied with Ward as the roster player in that deal. And that would work out nicely for the Capitals because they can quite easily fill that third line right wing spot with any number of guys.
But the Capitals certainly need to sweeten the pot a bit. A straight up Ward for Sharp trade is just not fair for the Blackhawks.
The Capitals could throw in a combination of mid-round draft picks. But that's boring and pretty unpredictable. I'll be the first to admit I have absolutely no idea how general managers find the balance between a current roster player and any number of draft picks. I mean, Sean Bergenheim went for a third round pick. Jaromir Jagr went for a second and third round pick. The Blackhawks traded traded a second and a conditional pick for Timonen. I have absolutely no idea what the going rate of draft picks is for your standard NHL player. I can't find any sort of definitive pattern.
So let's pretend the Capitals need to send a prospect along as well. I first took a look at what exactly the Blackhawks would need as far as prospects go. According to Hockey's Future, the Blackhawks lack an elite goaltending prospect and depth at right wing.
The Capitals have respectable depth at goaltending between Vitek Vanecek and Philipp Grubauer. I think the ideal situation for the Capitals would be to part with either goaltender as opposed to their right wing options. Grubauer is obviously more NHL ready than Vanecek, but overall, Vanecek has the most potential. The Blackhawks may be looking for someone to push Antti Raanta (who has been pretty solid in his few games) and Corey Crawford (who has been average over the course of the season). Or, maybe the Blackhawks pressure the Capitals into parting with a right wing, in which case their best option would be Riley Barber (I would be really, really unhappy about parting with him).
My guess is the Capitals could get away with giving the Blackhawks Ward, a forward prospect like Chandler Stephenson or Stanislav Galiev and a second or third round draft pick. Both sides essentially get what they want in that deal. The Capitals get a the top six scoring threat they desperately need, the Blackhawks get cap relief, a beneficial roster player and a respectable prospect and draft pick. This is, of course, entirely banking on whether or not Sharp chooses to waive his no movement clause, which he has in his contract. It's also worth noting that while the Caps would be bringing on a $5.9 million contract while only shipping away a $3 million contract in this particular instance, Sharps cap hit this year would only be around $1.475 million , so despite being a cap team, this would work.
Do I think it's possible? Yes. Do I think it's likely? Probably not. But this would definitely be a pretty good move for the Capitals. They are not going to win the Stanley Cup if they chase after guys like Antoine Vermette or Curtis Glencross. If they truly want to win this year, they have to go big. And acquiring a guy like Sharp would definitely be a big move.