In the NHL, perhaps more than any sport, it is quite unusual to make trades with your principle rivals. However, given the circumstances, perhaps a deal with our northern neighbors might not be so terrible.
The St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks have as much history as many rivalries in today’s NHL. They do not have the cachet of Toronto and Detroit or Boston and Montreal. Nevertheless, they have been involved in some of the league’s most bitter encounters.
With that in mind, the thought of sending someone across the battle lines to join the opposing squad seems unthinkable. You almost never see rivals exchange players unless it is via free agency.
The closest in recent memory is Chris Osgood joining the Blues. He won Stanley Cups with Detroit, but he played for the New York Islanders in between, so it doesn’t really count.
Jamal Mayers is fondly remembered in both cities. He had three stops between St. Louis and Chicago though.
Glenn Hall is probably the most notable to actually do it. He played for Detroit, Chicago and St. Louis. Still, it was not a trade that sent him to the Blues.
It seems almost unthinkable to see a member of the Blues in the red and black and vice versa. That is in most years. This season is not a normal year for either team.
The Blues got off to an unbelievable start to 2017-18, but have crashed in the second half. Meanwhile, the Blackhawks never got the ship going this season and are languishing in last place in the division.
With that in mind, could a deal between the two rivals actually make sense? I say it could.
Before you get out your torches and pitchforks and seek me out, just hear me out.
For the case of St. Louis, Vinnie Hinostroza could also be an intriguing target. Brandon Saad is also an interesting name, but Chicago has already dealt him once and paid a hefty price to get him back. Would they really deal him again?
Hinostroza offers the least known quantity. However, he has as much upside as the recently acquired Nikita Soshnikov and potentially more.
His downside is that he is a restricted free agent at the end of the season. The plus side is he has not proven himself enough at the NHL level to demand much, so you could easily get him for less than $1 million on a short deal or just over on a longer deal.
Hartman has some good upside as well. He scored 19 goals and 31 points in his rookie season. Through 55 games in his sophomore year, he’s got eight goals and 24 points. Those are not amazing numbers, but he could be a good addition to the Blues third line. He would also give St. Louis a much-needed right hand shot.
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Anisimov is the most proven and would cost you the most. He has a cap hit of $4.5 million and earns around 5. His numbers are not mind blowing, but he is good up the middle and a decent scorer.
Anisimov has played in just over 600 games and has just over 300 points. That’s about a point every other game. His goal totals work out to around a goal every fourth game. Again, not spectacular, but pretty consistent.
The most important part is that the Blackhawks might not be looking for as much in return as other teams. They are in salary cap hell and need relief. They are also open to making a hockey trade, which is usually a player for player as opposed to all the picks and prospects being lumped in.
Chicago won’t just give St. Louis any players, but it might not require a pick, prospect and a player like some of the big names. Additionally, since these are all second or third line players, you’re not going to be required to give up as much either.
Rumors have circulated that the Winnipeg Jets are interested in Hartman. So, if Chicago would be willing to trade him within the division (a big if), what is one more step and trading him to your rival?
Anisimov would be the biggest get for St. Louis. However, he also has a full no-movement clause. So, even if you work a deal with the team, he has to OK it.
Who knows what the ‘Hawks would want in return. It is conceivable that the Blues could convince them to unite the Schmaltz brothers or maybe another defensive prospect. Chicago’s blue line is not the youngest.
It must be said that none of these are likely to happen. There have been no links between Chicago and St. Louis in the trade market.
All of them are very interesting. If you remove yourself from the rivalry for a moment and do not let that logo cloud your judgement, all of these guys would be solid additions to this team.
They all have experience winning and being part of a winning culture. They all have enough talent to potentially be upgrades from what the Blues have, or at least bridges to the next round of prospects.
Usually it is unthinkable to trade with your biggest rival. However, both teams could potentially benefit from a deal.