The Chicago Blackhawks have been quiet on the trade front thus far, even though it has appeared that they may be looking to shuffle some names on defense this summer. Niklas Hjalmarsson and Steve Montador are two names associated with such a move.
Is there another piece with which GM Stan Bowman might consider parting? In particular, young blueliner Nick Leddy?
John Jaeckel of HockeyBuzz.com has speculated on a few occasions in recent weeks that Leddy could be on the trade block.
With little noise coming from the Blackhawks front office, rumors have to be taken with a grain of salt. Leddy is coming off a season in which he put up 37 points (three goals, 34 assists) in his first full tilt through the league.
Leddy has been Bowman's golden child since the Blackhawks nabbed him from the Minnesota Wild back in 2010. He would seem to be a big part of Bowman's vision of the future. How could moving a player with Leddy's offensive potential pay off for the 'Hawks?
Let's toss a few things to the wall and see what sticks:
- In a league where an offensive-minded defenseman can expect to name his price, Leddy could be used to fetch a premium player in return.
- For similar reasons, Leddy, who is an RFA after the 2012-13 campaign, may be in line for a substantial raise in his next contract.
- Leddy's skater rating of minus-12 put him at the bottom of the back end and trailed only Andrew Brunette for the worst on the team.
- There may be a new golden child in the Bowman house.
That new kid goes by the name of Adam Clendening, Chicago's second-round selection in the 2011 NHL draft. The 19-year-old defenseman signed an entry deal with the 'Hawks after two standout seasons at Boston University.
Clendening was noticeable during last week's prospect camp, though Bowman and the front office have been enamored with him for a while. Bowman had a lot of positive things to say Friday as camp was wrapping up. As told to Brad Boron on the team website:
I think Adam is probably the one defenseman who has the potential to make the jump this year. He’s got that offensive ability; he seems to read the play really well, he makes good passes and he’s pretty physical—he’s not timid at all. I think it’s good for him to look at this year as a learning year, but also as a year he could make an impact for us.
My money is squarely behind Clendening spending this season in Rockford before making a case for his 'Hawks debut. Of course, I said the same thing about Leddy before Bowman thrust him into the NHL.
Clendening is similar to Leddy in his style. He is 5'11" with good puck-moving skills. He is being projected as a headier version of Leddy. If Bowman really believes that Clendening is ready to compete for a roster spot, Leddy could become an expendable yet valuable trade piece.
That may be a stretch as far as Clendening's NHL readiness is concerned. The same may go for Bowman's willingness to deal a player on whom he has been so high for the past two seasons.
However, if Bowman is confident enough in his latest model, Leddy may not be as untouchable as previously thought.