Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY SPORTS
James van Riemsdyk has been the subject of a lot of gossip over the past several months, and today, another chunk was added to the mix. This time, a team’s name is actually mentioned, with NHL.com’s Brian Hedger pointing towards the Chicago Blackhawks.
— Brian Hedger (@BrianHedger) January 13, 2017
It’s pretty clear where the Hawks are coming from here, recognizing that their team isn’t scoring very much and that, while they’re second overall at the moment, their 0.941 even-strength save percentage isn’t going to bail out their 16th-ranked score-adjusted shot differential for too much longer. Getting Van Riemsdyk, who has a cost-friendly deal for two more years, into the mix would be a huge boost, plus his brother Trevor is already around.
But it’s hard to think of a name that would come back. Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Corey Crawford and Duncan Keith aren’t going anywhere (though, as those who follow me on Twitter would guess, I roll my eyes at a Toews for JVR deal anyway with contracts considered). Marian Hossa still rules, but at 38, you can’t seriously consider taking on five more years of his contract. Marcus Kruger isn’t very good and he’s hurt, Artem Anisimov is their best centre right now, Brent Seabrook’s contract already looks like an albatross. Most of the rest of the roster is on an ELC or sub-$1 million
The “dream” scenario would be getting Niklas Hjalmarsson, but I have my doubts that the Hawks are overly interested in moving him either given that he signed to a deal where he makes just $4.1 million a season until 2018/19. You alternatively could try to reach into the pile of defencemen that they aren’t already using, and make an effort to acquire players along the lines of Ville Pokka, Gustav Forsling, and Carl Dahlstrom. The latter two Swedes are particularly interesting potential pickups, given that they would both be exempt from the expansion draft. Chicago also has all of their own draft picks this year, along with two additional fifth-round-picks and a sixth-rounder.
With that said, I can’t see this being more than the Hawks working the phones at this point since Van Riemsdyk has been in talks and he fits what they want. I can’t see the Leafs’ ask back meshing with what Chicago would like to give, though, so I wouldn’t be surprised if these talks died pretty quickly, if not already.