As we near the middle point of the NHL season, we’re beginning to see some separation in the league’s standings. The contenders are beginning to emerge and the pretenders… well they’re going into hibernation. Unfortunately for Chicago Blackhawks fans, it appears that their team will be taking another long hibernation again this season. The Blackhawks are dead last in the NHL’s Central Division and are eight points back of a Wild Card playoff spot. Things don’t look great for the former juggernauts.
As we near the February trade deadline, don’t be surprised if Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman elects to make some moves with an eye to the future. And while we won’t see Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane on the trade block anytime soon, secondary players like Erik Gustaffsson could be on the move.
In fact, check out this report from NHL insider Elliotte Friedman concerning Gustafsson:
Second, Chicago. If he does not re-sign in-season, there could easily be a market for defenceman Erik Gustafsson.
The 27 year old Gustafsson is slated to become an unrestricted free agent and is earning just $1.2 million against the salary cap currently. He put up a remarkable 17 goals and 60 points in 2019-20, but has managed just three goals and 13 points in 34 games so far this season. While no one expects him to match his total from last season, Gustafsson can still be a valuable addition for a team seeking some offence from the defence.
So… where does he end up?
The Vegas Golden Knights could use another blueliner, ditto for the Winnipeg Jets. In the East, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens are all on the lookout for blue line help. Could there be a fit for Gustafsson on any of these teams? Stay tuned.