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Thinking Outside of The Box, Who Could KD Target?

June 13, 2024, 5:26 PM ET [273 Comments]
Zach Jarom
Chicago Blackhawks Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The NHL announced last week that the salary cap for the upcoming season will be jumping up to 88 million, marking the first large bump since the pandemic. As of writing, the Blackhawks have just under 33 million in cap space and need to spend just under 10 million to reach the cap floor. Going into this off-season, Kyle Davidson talked about how it was time for this team to move to the next stage of the rebuild and to be more competitive, but he didn’t really go into more detail about what that meant. With money to spend that won't put this team in cap hell, could we see KD go big game hunting and bring in a bigger name?

Jake Guentzel has already been linked to the Hawks, and there is rumored to be mutual interest from both parties. Guentzel will be 30 at the start of the next season and could be looking for the last big ticket of his career. If Guentzl is the answer for this team, what could a contract look like that would make the team, the player, and the fans feel comfortable? Initially, I was thinking you go three years and then slightly overpay him for the amount in exchange for the term this team wants. Could he come to Chicago on a three-year deal at $8 million per hit? That will help get the team to the floor, won't handicap them, and it will be a 2 million dollar bump in his salary after making 6 million per his last contract. Or is Guentzel the type of player you would feel more comfortable giving the term he wants and selling him on the idea of how this team is being built, hoping he buys in? For me, I lean towards a three-year deal and see where this team is at after year two.

Guentzel has been the big name thrown out there, but he isn’t the only option. There are a few players you can grab via free agency, but you could also get impact players via trade and use the cap space to their advantage. Here are just a few ideas I had as possible options that I have played around with but have zero indication there is anything to them.

Sign Elias Lindholm
After making it clear he wasn’t going to resign in Calgary, Lindholm was dealt to the Cauncks, where he helped them win the Pacific Division and push the Oilers to game 7 in the second round. For me, this is a big stretch of a signing for the Hawks and one I wouldn’t want them to explore. He has already turned down an 8-year offer from the Flames and just turned down a 7x7 deal with Vancouver. It's pretty clear he is looking for long-term and big money, and for someone who will more than likely become a third-line center, it's not worth spending the money. There are players in the Hawks system already that could play the same role, and depending on how they attack the draft, there could be more options coming in. He is one of the bigger names in this free agent class, which is the only reason he was brought up.

Sign Steven Stamkos
Ok, I know this is never going to happen, but that doesn’t mean I can't dream. Stamkos entered this past season without a contract extension (or even talks about one) and made it clear on the first day of training that he wasn’t happy. The 34-year-old could be on the move, so why not kick the tires and see if a deal could be made? By bringing him in, you not only get a former captain who led his team to multiple Stanley Cup Finals and back-to-back wins, but you are also getting a player who could be a great mentor for Connor Bedard. He can be the guy to teach him the tricks and cheats in the faceoff dot that he really needs and what it takes to be a great captain. If Stamkos is going to go somewhere other than Tampa, you have to imagine he isn’t going to want to waste his few good seasons left on a rebuilding team, but if he's available, KD should be calling.

Trade for Patrick Laine
Yesterday, it was announced that the Blue Jackets and Laine had agreed that a change of scenery was the best move for both parties. Laine will start the upcoming season with two years remaining on his current deal with a cap hit of $8.7 million. Depending on the asking price, this seems like the type of move that fits this rebuild. A player who will only be on the books for 2–3 seasons and has something to prove. The 26-year-old is coming off a season that only saw him play in 18 games and spend the remainder of the year apart from the player assistance program. On top of that, he only played in 55 games the season before as he dealt with various injuries. When he is healthy and on his game, he is still an elite goal scorer; it's just getting him back to that level. For the right price, I wouldn’t hate the idea of giving him a chance.

Trade for Alex Pietrangelo
Its another off season, and that means its time for Vegas to trade away another player for future considerations so they can add another player they have no business acquiring (paging Mitch Marner). The Hawks and Knights have a history of working together and could do so again this off-season. Pietrangelo is the oldest knight under contract, and based on their trade history, it means he's all but gone. With three years remaining at 8.8 million per year, this is another deal the Hawks could take on to help get them to the next stage of the rebuild. Bringing him in gives the team another right-handed shot at the point, which means players like Rinzel and Levshunov (if taken 2nd overall) do not have to be rushed to make the jump and can develop at whatever pace is best for them. You get more experience on the backend, which can be another great mentor for the young players, and by taking on that cap hit, you are more than likely going to get a pick or prospect as well.

I am going to stop the list there for today and will talk about more options again as we get closer to free agency. Again, take all of this with a grain of salt. Besides Jake Guentzel, I have not heard anything connecting any of these players to the Hawks. We are just two weeks away from the draft, and free agency starts two days later, so news might be slow now, but get ready because it's going to pick up fast.

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