NHL Rumors: Analyzing Buzz on Potential Patrick Kane Trade, Brent Seabrook, More
The NHL offseason has officially been underway for the better part of a month, with both the draft and the start of free agency dominating headlines throughout October.
With a number of high-interest transactions, including Taylor Hall signing with the Buffalo Sabres and Alex Pietrangelo moving on to the Vegas Golden Knights, it has been easy to lose track of potential coaching changes, an impending expansion draft and even the buzz surrounding a Chicago Blackhawks rebuild.
Get caught up to speed with an analysis of some of the latest NHL rumors.
Patrick Kane on the Move?
The Chicago Blackhawks haven't kept their impending rebuild a secret, having moved on from Corey Crawford, Brandon Saad, Drake Caggiula and Slater Koekkoek. The transactions raised eyebrows from the team, with a source telling The Athletic's Mark Lazerus that the core of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook "have had enough."
Toews told Lazerus that the departure of Crawford was "really disappointing," while Kane voiced his displeasure in February when the team ditched Robin Lehner at the trade deadline.
"I think it's good to ask the players what they think, to be honest with you," he said, per Lazerus. "We're the ones who are playing every night. We see what's going on in the locker room. ... That would be a good road to go."
General manager Stan Bowman, in response, noted that his players were paid "to play hockey, not so much to manage a team."
Months removed from the very public internal conflict, the Blackhawks hosted a Zoom call that featured the four veteran stars and a number of team personnel, including Bowman, assistant general manager Al MacIsaac and coach Jeremy Colliton, where the players were told the moves were not the product of "a teardown rebuild," per Lazerus. All four of the veterans have no-movement clauses in their contract and Bowman does not intend to trade them and the players don't want to waive those clauses "right now." One league source thinks Kane will be sticking around for the remainder of his career.
"Kane's not going anywhere," the source said, per Lazerus. "He wants to win, yeah, but he doesn't want to go anywhere else. Maybe ever."
The near-32-year-old future Hall of Famer has a hefty $10.5 million cap hit for the next three seasons, but through 973 career games, he has added 1,022 points and is still producing. In 70 games last season, he added 84 points by way of 33 goals and 51 assists.
That being said, his career is winding down, and a full-scale rebuild would surely be helped by the return the Blackhawks would get in a trade. If Kane has any interest in collecting a fourth Stanley Cup, it may be in his best interest to waive that no-movement clause. The Blackhawks are rebuilding for a reason—they've made the playoffs in just three of the past five seasons and fell in the first round each time, a far cry from the team that won three Cups from 2010 to 2015.
In considering his future, Kane will need to re-evaluate his priorities—should he look to close his career out on a winning team, or stick around with a franchise that has effectively said it does not value his opinion?
Brent Seabrook to Seattle?
Similarly, a source told Lazerus that Seabrook, who made his NHL debut for the Blackhawks in 2005, also has "no intention of waiving" his no-movement clause, although it was added the 35-year-old British Columbia native could be interested in a move to Seattle in the 2021 expansion draft.
As the Blackhawks grapple with a lack of cap space ($5.2 million remaining, per CapFriendly), an injury-prone veteran who is on the books for $27.5 million over the next four years is an obvious target to move.
A three-time Stanley Cup champion—even one who only appeared in 38 games in 2019-20 after three separate surgeries before opting out of the restart—could be serious bait for an expansion franchise as they attempt to build a successful team from the ground up, seeking veteran leadership and talent while starting with an empty checkbook.
Lazerus analyzed this scenario on his podcast, Laz and Powers (h/t Blackhawk Up):
"Seattle really is the only realistic option for Seabrook, right? I mean, you’re not gonna be able to trade him straight-up to somebody, but a team like Seattle would have a ton of cap space to play with, obviously, starting from scratch, no huge contracts on the books, they can maximize that leverage."
With the Blackhawks attempting to restart, Seabrook could do the same with the Kraken come June.
Not Time for Torts to Go
After the Columbus Blue Jackets hired John Tortorella to turn around a pitiful 0-7 start to the 2015-16 campaign, he carried the momentum from his first season into four consecutive playoff appearances, with three first-round exits and a second-round departure in 2018-19. It's the best run for the team in franchise history, with the Blue Jackets only posting two other playoff appearances in their 19 seasons—a conference quarterfinals defeat in 2008-09 and a first-round loss in 2013-14.
The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun reported Friday the Blue Jackets had no plans for a contract extension soon, but "that's more about the uncertainty of the season and the NHL financial landscape than anything else," and a source confirmed to him that the team wants him to continue to lead the franchise.
Tortorella's development of the franchise into a legitimate contender makes him deserving of a contract extension when his current deal runs out at the end of the upcoming season. In his 19 seasons in the league, the 62-year-old has amassed a 655-515-37-120 record and won the Jack Adams Award as the league's coach of the year in 2003-04 and 2016-17.