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Could Ehlers Fit in Chicago?

May 16, 2024, 3:49 PM ET [332 Comments]
Zach Jarom
Chicago Blackhawks Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Yesterday, word around the league was that the Winnipeg Jets had made forward Nikolaj Ehlers available for trade. With Kyle Davidson saying at his end-of-year press conference that this team is looking to take the next step this upcoming season, you can help but wonder if this could be an option for KD and the Hawks to look into. The Hawks are sitting in a very good position, having draft capital and cap space that they can use to make moves such as this. Ehlers is in the final year of his current deal, which holds a $6 million cap hit. Making a move like this for a team in the Hawks situation would have to come with some sort of insurance that he would sign an extension of some sort. Ehlers, who will turn 29 in February, would be a good extension candidate, and if you view this in terms of time frame, bringing him in on a 2-4 year extension allows him to be here for when this team makes the call to go all in on contending for the playoffs.

Ehlers would instantly become a huge improvement on the offensive side of the puck for the Hawks, which we all know absolutely struggled with last season. He played in 82 games last season, putting up 61 points (25-36). He does have a bit of an injury history that cost him almost half of the 2022–23 season, but when he is in the lineup, he is a complete difference-maker. Trading for him gives Coach Richardson a very good player that can play on the top line with Bedard or even help strengthen the second line and could be a nice piece to help Reichel take the next step. We have seen how Bedard has played during this World Championship with legitimate talent around him, and seeing this should be a sign for KD to take a look at players like this sooner rather than later.

What would it take to get Ehlers? As of writing, I haven’t seen what the Jets are asking for in terms of a return, and part of me wonders if this is just a replay of last year's Scheifele/Hellebuyck situation where they dangled them as trade options only to turn around and re-sign them. In terms of what the Hawks could offer, I would throw the 2025 First Round Pick from Toronto, one of this year's Second Round Picks (I was thinking 54 overall), and a player who might have lost their role on this team, i.e., Cole Guttman. Again, without knowing what the Jets are looking for, I’m just playing armchair GM here.

Regardless of whether or not this is the right move for the Hawks, these are the types of options that should be explored by this team. At some point, you are going to need to spend the money to add talent to this team. Building through the draft will only take a team so far, and the draft capital KD has acquired during this teardown will come in handy once he decides to pull the trigger.

Is this something you want to see the Hawks explore, and if so, what would it offer the Jets?

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