The Chicago Blackhawks top priority this offseason was to move the contract of Marian Hossa. Most thought it would come before or during the draft last month. Surprisingly, that didn’t happen. Instead, it happened today with the Arizona Coyotes in a big seven-player deal.
OFFICIAL: The #Blackhawks have acquired Marcus Kruger, MacKenzie Entwistle, Jordan Maletta, Andrew Campbell and a 2019 fifth-round draft pick from Arizona in exchange for Marian Hossa, Vinnie Hinostroza, Jordan Oesterle and a 2019 third-round pick. pic.twitter.com/2C2QxZkIGX
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) July 12, 2018
Like most fans, my initial reaction to this deal was not good. Giving up Vinnie Hinostroza hurt, and that’s not going to go away anytime soon. However, this was a necessary deal because of the Hossa contract situation.
In order to be able to go after a few bigger names via trade, the Hawks had to free up more cap space. Trading the Hossa contract did just that. The Hawks now have even more flexibility going forward, which is something the front office has wanted.
The Hawks also released a statement on Thursday thanking Hossa who helped bring the franchise three Stanley Cups.
“Today is another example of the leadership Marian has displayed as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks organization. When we approached him to discuss the idea of him waiving his no move clause to allow us to make this move, it became clear this was a difficult thing for him to consider. After the success he has had in a Blackhawks jersey, the friends he has made throughout the organization and the fact his heart will always be in Chicago, the thought of disassociating in any way from the team he has come to love was not something he really wanted to give any thought to at all. But, as the consummate team player, he did what he has always done. He did what the team needed him to do in order to succeed.
Marian’s long-term contributions to the club will never be forgotten. His performance as a player was always appreciated, but, it is his special qualities as a teammate, a leader and a person, that will more than anything leave its mark on all of us who have come to love and respect the very humble way he goes about everything he does. He has shown us all the impact we can have on others if we conduct ourselves with character, integrity and utmost respect for all we come in contact with. We have had the pleasure of watching him hoist three Stanley Cups with our team and he will forever be connected to the Blackhawks. On behalf of the entire organization, we would like to thank Marian—a world-class player—for all he has done for the Chicago Blackhawks.”
Now, let’s break down this deal.
As I stated above, the loss of Hinostroza hurts. There’s no other way around it. Especially because Hinostroza recently signed a two-year extension with a cap hit of $1.5 million. That’s cheap for a player that has the amount of skill Hinostroza does.
He brought speed and versatility to the Hawks’ line up. Does he have the upside of an Alex DeBrincat or Nick Schmaltz? No, which eventually made him expendable. Don’t get me wrong, Hinostroza is a viable top-six winger, but he’s not a top prospect.
In 50 games last season, Hinostroza scored seven goals to go along with 18 assists and 25 points. He also had the second-highest-points-per-60 minutes average at 1.98, only behind Patrick Kane. Hinostroza is replaceable, but having him on a cheap deal for two-years of control hurts. Again though, the Hossa contract had to be moved, and Hinostroza was the victim here.
Having $8.5 million to spend is worth the price of Hinostroza, to me at least.
Coyotes general manager John Chayka has coveted Hinostroza for a long time.
“It’s just a dynamic game. He plays at a super high pace, one of the highest in the league. Skilled, smart, reads the play extremely well.”
The Hawks had to move defensemen at some point because of all the players they had signed. Oesterle ended up being the player in this deal. He played well at times last year, but trading him isn’t something that should upset fans.
Brandon Manning will fill the Oesterle roll next year, which is fine. There are plenty d-men on the roster that will replace his minutes. In 55 games last year, Oesterle had five goals and 10 assists.
Yes, Kruger will be returning to the Hawks after helping the team win two cups in 2013 and 2015. He’s far from the player he was though. He ended last season in the AHL. That’s right, he was not good enough to play on the Hurricanes NHL roster. I would be lying if I wasn’t a bit concerned about that.
The hope is that Kruger can turn things around in a familiar place. He won’t be anything more than a fourth line center though. Something Kruger may be able to help is the penalty kill, which was a disaster for the Hawks last season.
All in all, Kruger being in the deal feels more like the Hawks helping the Coyotes more than anything. His contract will also be off the books after next season.
Kruger had this to say about being back in Chicago.
“Really excited. Couldn’t be any more happy. Ready to go and just overall really excited to be back.”
He should also be ready for training camp.
“I’m really excited to show what I can do and how I can play.”
Out of the four players that Hawks acquired from the Coyotes, the one that has the most upside is Entwistle. At 6’3, he isn’t the usual type of young forward the Hawks go after. He is a fantastic skater for being so tall. In 49 games in the OHL last season, Entwistle recorded 38 points.
MacKenzie Entwistle is a strong skating, power forward with a little offensive upside. He fell to the 3rd round (69th overall) in 2017 but was considered a potential late 1st/early 2nd round pick until he came down with Mono in the middle of his draft season.
— Tom Hunter (@PuckDontLie) July 12, 2018
Entwistle is not NHL ready at this point in time. He will be 19 by the start of next season.
Nick Maletta and Andrew Campbell
Nick Maletta is a 23-year-old center who is basically a career minor leaguer. Andrew Campbell, 30, could end up helping the Hawks. I could see him playing in both Rockford and Chicago depending on injuries. In his 10-year career, he has played in 42 NHL games.
Both players don’t bring much to the table.
The best way to describe this deal would be underwhelming. The Hawks are actually in a worse position after this deal, in terms of player personnel. It was always going to take a legit piece to move Hossa’s contract, and that was Hinostroza. Good thing it’s July 12th because the Hawks’ roster is pretty ugly as things stand today.
They need a top-four defenseman, and there are holes on the top and second line at the forward position.
There have to be other moves lined up right? Please? That’s my hope at least. The Hawks have to do something. Unless, they want to be a mediocre team, which would be a tough pill to swallow with Kane and Toews still on the books.
Shortly after the trade, this rumor surfaced.
Told the Blackhawks have been in talks with Montreal about Pacioretty and Carolina about Skinner. Chicago has approx $8.5M in cap space after today's trade. Possible these talks pick up steam now.
— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) July 12, 2018
To be honest, I don’t know if the Hawks have enough in their system to get one of these guys. Hell, the way the roster looks right now, getting both players wouldn’t be a bad idea. The hope has to be that the Hawks find a way to make one or two moves that will improve the current roster.
If that doesn’t happen, Stan Bowman may want to start packing his bags.
Follow Nick on Twitter: @TLS_Petrusevski–Feature Photo Credit: USA Today Sports