When the upcoming NHL Draft arrives, there will be a lot of hungry teenagers hoping to hear their names called. There will also be a lot of general managers hoping to find a jewel late in the draft. These two groups of people will be excited to be in Los Angeles.
A third group might not be as excited.
There are some players that will undoubtedly be dealt before or during the early rounds of the draft. Just as the Philadelphia Flyers dealt their 2010 first round pick to the Anaheim Ducks in the deal for Chris Pronger last summer, there will be teams hoping to turn the potential of a teenager into the experience of an elite veteran.
This is where the Chicago Blackhawks enter the picture.
The Blackhawks just won the Stanley Cup, but have well-documented work to do to get their 2010-11 roster under the salary cap. They have a number of restricted free agents that will likely be on the block, and will have some emerging young stars that could be wearing a different sweater next year as a cap casualty.
In the first two rounds, the Blackhawks already have three picks (30, 43, and 60 overall). However, that number could swell to five or six if the Hawks have to move salary off their books.
The first candidate to be moved is Andrew Ladd. He's big (6'2", 200 lb), young (he won't turn 25 until December), and he already has two Stanley Cup rings in his safe deposit box. There will certainly be teams lining up for his services this summer.
Ladd was the fourth overall pick in the 2004 draft, following Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, and . . . Cam Barker (who was dealt to Minnesota by the Blackhawks this season). Because he'll likely get a raise from his $1.55M cap number from the past two seasons, Ladd is probably too expensive for the Blackhawks to bring back.
Considering the salary it could take to sign Ladd for the next few years, a team looking to add size up front could probably get him from the Blackhawks for a third round draft pick. By acquiring him before July 1, a team could utilize the exclusive negotiating window to get a deal done with Ladd.
A team like Toronto could be a great landing spot for Ladd.
Then there are the players the Hawks will move off their roster that will be under contract for next year to clear cap space. That could be one of Kris Versteeg, Patrick Sharp, or Dustin Byfuglien.
All three of these players are making over $3 million, and could be viewed as valuable pieces to any number of teams in the league. Perhaps the biggest intrigue on this list comes with the biggest player: Byfuglien.
After a postseason in which he was suddenly considered an elite power forward, Byfuglien's stock may never be higher. He scored 11 goals, five of which were game-winners, and led the postseason in hits as well. At only $3 million, Byfuglien could be seen as a bargain by a team looking to upgrade their offense immediately.
What could be interesting is which team has the most interest in Byfuglien, and how much they're willing to pay.
There are three teams that immediately come to mind when considering draft-related trade scenarios for Byfuglien (or Versteeg or Sharp, for that matter). Boston, Atlanta, and Florida are all teams with multiple picks in the first two rounds that might choose to turn one of those into an NHL-ready player.
It is worth remembering, too, that former Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon is now in charge in Florida. He traded for, drafted, or signed most of the players on the Blackhawks' championship roster, so he knows the value well. Considering the Panthers have three picks in the top 50 (3, 33, 50), the Hawks and Panthers might make a deal before the Draft begins next weekend.