Chicago Blackhawks may have to hit the trade market after Dach, Toews blows

Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Blackhawks may have to investigate a trade after suffering two bouts of bad news.

It has been a hellish week for the Chicago Blackhawks who learned that young stud Kirby Dach will miss 4-5 months with a right wrist fracture suffered at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship.

My colleague, Matty Breisch, wrote here how center Dylan Strome will now have to step up in order to fill the void left by Dach.

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However, the Blackhawks were dealt more bad news today when, per Darren Dreger and Pierre LeBrun of TSN, Captain Jonathan Toews will now miss the start of the 2020-21 regular season due to illness.

The extent of the illness isn’t yet known but it is a crushing blow for the Chicago Blackhawks, who will now have to navigate the immediate future without two of their top centers.

As such, President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Stan Bowman may have to pick up the phone and try to pull the trigger on a trade before Training Camps open next week.

Granted, the Blackhawks do have some depth options at center including the likes of Ryan Carpenter, Mattias Janmark and David Kampf.

However, and while Chicago is in the early stages of a rebuild, they may need an established top-six center if they are to avoid completely stinking out the building in 2020-21.

After all, Dach is done for the year and there is no guarantee on when Toews will be able to return, although it doesn’t sound too good reading his official statement, while it may be too much to expect Dylan Strome to carry a whole team on his back.

Patrick Kane will also be expected to carry a lot of the burden offensively, but he too will need some help in order to keep Chicago afloat.

Given the flurry of signings in recent days, there isn’t really an adequate option available in Free Agency so Bowman will have to work the phones in order to find a replacement for Toews and Dach should he wish to head down that path.

Who they may look to go after is another question entirely, although there will be teams actively looking to move players in order to get as close to the cap floor as possible given the financial hit every franchise has taken in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

For instance, could Tyler Johnson of the Tampa Bay Lightning be an option?

tampa bay lightning
Tyler Johnson #9 of the Tampa Bay Lightning (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Although the Lightning won’t be as desperate to move the 30-year-old in the wake of more sorcery to get cap complainant, they would likely jump at the chance to get the forward’s $5 million cap hit off the books.

Johnson is a proven two-way center in the NHL who is solid in the faceoff dot, can play in all situations and can probably still put up between 30-50 points a season, and he would certainly be a solid second-line pivot for the Blackhawks.

Would Chicago be willing to take on Johnson’s albatross of a contract which carries an AAV of $5 million per year through the 2023-24 season with a No-Move clause though?

It is a risky move for a team now in a full teardown but, given the fact that their forward unit has now been seriously depleted, it could be a chance worth taking for the Hawks.

There will be other options out there, of course, but this Blackhawks team as it is currently constituted could be one of the worst teams in the NHL if they don’t do something to help soften the blow of losing both Kirby Dach and Jonathan Toews, with the latter maybe a doubt for the entire season for all we know.

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Therefore, the Chicago Blackhawks and their front office would be wise to pick up the phone and try to pull off a trade for a top six center before Opening Night on Jan. 13, 2021, or risk completely stinking and finishing as the worst team in the NHL in 2020-21.

Unless, of course, that is their aim.