Chicago Blackhawks: Are The Senators Barking to Make a Deal?

Tab BamfordSenior Writer INovember 20, 2009

As the tagging situation appears to be an issue the Chicago Blackhawks must address before putting the pen to paper with Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Patrick Kane , the rumors surrounding the team will undoubtedly start picking up.

Friday, the latest trade rumor appears to have the Hawks dealing Cam Barker to the Ottawa Senators. The alleged players coming back are, you guessed it, a couple of guys with expiring contracts. This deal intrigues me more than a Barker-for-Matt Cullen deal, though.

In the rumored scenario where the Hawks would move Barker to Carolina for veteran center Cullen, the Hawks would get an older center to anchor the second line in Dave Bolland’s absence. There is very little chance Cullen would be brought back, even though his brother is presently playing in the Blackhawks organization in Rockford.

In the proposed Ottawa deal, the Hawks would receive defenseman Alexandre Picard, 23, center Ryan Shannon, 26, and even potentially a draft pick. Both Picard and Shannon have the required expiring contracts, but both are also young and making small enough money that their retention could be considered in 2010-11 if they perform while in Chicago.

Picard is especially intriguing. He’s averaging 19:58 in ice time per night and has nine points (one goal, eight assists) with three of his assists coming on the power play. He handles the puck well enough, and has enough of a shot, that he could be considered a good shot to be brought back next year. When you factor in that he’ll be a restricted free agent, and is only making $850,000 dollars this season, he could be seen as a legitimate replacement for Barker on the Hawks blue line next season.

Compared to Picard, Barker is only averaging 13:59 in ice time per night and has 11 points (four goals, seven assists). Barker has cooled off in the scoring column, though; he has only scored five points in his last ten games, and has only scored in three of those ten games.

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Adding a player like Picard would also help the Hawks take their time developing young defensemen Dylan Olsen and Shawn LaLonde, not forcing them to be ready by Opening Day next year because the organization has only five defensemen under contract.