Jonathon Toews and Patrick Kane are two icons for Chicago Blackhawks hockey. With multiple cups during a five year dynasty, they are both likely bound for the hall of fame when they retire. While it's not a 100% guarantee that one or both are moved before the deadline, the trade rumors are swirling. One team that is not often linked to these players is the Minnesota Wild. After researching other teams' potential offers to the Blackhawks and the Wild's trade board I am going to attempt to come up with a fair and reasonable offer to acquire both Kane and Toews for the upcoming playoff run.
Per The Athletic beat writers Michael Russo and Joe Smith, two of the top three needs for the club are a top six center to play with Kaprizov and a winger to play opposite Matt Boldy. And now that Bo Horvat has been traded, his deal can help set the market for rental players this deadline. That return was a '23 first round pick (lottery protected), a prospect, and a current NHL depth player. Furthermore, the Hawks have already shown they aren't worried about trading rental players in division, having dealt Fluery to the Wild last year at the deadline. Granted, MAF isn't a franchise icon like these two are, but he is also a future hall of famer, and any amount of precedence can't hurt.
First, let's take a look at what the Blackhawks need and might want in a return for both players. It appears as if Chicago is expecting to have to retain half of each player's salary, which could play into the return needed to acquire each player. For Toews, it has been reported that the hopeful return is a first round pick. But a more realistic deal might be centered around a second round pick or equivalent prospect. The market for Kane appears to match that of Horvat, a first round pick plus a prospect and potentially a third piece.
Next, we can analyze which of the Wild's assets could match these needs in a trade with Chicago. Billy Guerin has stated multiple times that he doesn't want to give up top prospects and first round picks for pure rental players. However, in this case I think he might make an exception, both for the championship pedigree and the fit of both players. Even so, I doubt that the '23 first round pick will be in play. This upcoming draft class is expected to be quite good and if the Wild move any prospects this year's class will be leaned on to fill those gaps. The 2024 first round pick is a potential option along with any second round or later pick. In terms of prospects, first let's state which ones are not going to be moved: Wallstedt, Faber, Rossi, and Ohgren. Carson Lambos, and Yurov are likely on the bubble of being untouchable in trade talks. Any other prospects can be included in a potential deal.
Now what would a fair trade package from the Wild look like to acquire both Kane and Toews? I am going to start off with the picks, a '24 first and a '25 second. In addition to those two picks, I am including Adam Beckman and Jordan Greenway. Beckman is the prospect I decided to include because based on Scott Wheeler’s prospect pool rankings, the Hawks system is flush with defensemen. Furthermore, while he is not one of the top five Wild prospects, he does slot in at number nine and projects to be a middle six winger. Greenway is included in this deal both to help eat some minutes for the Hawks this year and be an asset that will likely be flipped at next year’s deadline. If this package is not quite enough for Chicago, an additional third round pick or an additional prospect in the 12-15 range could be tacked on to get this over the finish line.
Here is how I see the lines set up post trade:
Kaprizov - Toews - Zuccarello
Boldy - Steel - Kane
Foligno - Ek - Hartman
Duhaime - Dewar - Gaudreau
While Toews’ advanced stats are down across the board this year, his supporting cast is the weakest it has been in his time in Chicago. Sticking him on the top line will provide a consistent faceoff winner for Kap and Zucc with the additional point production that hasn’t been seen this year from Steel or Hartman. If it appears that he isn’t able to keep up with those two, another option could be to reunite him on the second line with Kane. They have chemistry and would definitely help solidify the second line as a true scoring line.
This also provides a huge boost to both powerplay units.
Zuccarello - Ek - Kane
Addison - Kap
Steel - Toews - Boldy
Hartman - Spurgeon
By slotting Kane in on the top powerplay it allows Boldy to move down to the second unit and join the newcomer Toews. This trickle-down effect means that both Freddy and Brodin are removed and gives this unit some extra oomph. Kane is a more willing shooter on the top unit and is less likely to defer to Kap and Zucc like we have seen Boldy do this year. Adding Boldy and Toews makes the second powerplay more rounded and gives them a much better pivot to win draws and maintain possession.
While Toews is not the dominant two way force he was a few years ago and is not the center Kaprizov deserves, I believe he would be an upgrade both on and off the ice for the Wild. Bringing Kane along with will help add more scoring punch to the second line and both add additional championship pedigree to the club. This team needs a jolt and for this package, I don’t think it is outlandish. While incredibly unlikely, it was a fun exercise to see both what it might take to acquire these two players and what the team would look like on the ice if they did. Looking forward to hearing what people think about this, even after both embarrassing losses post all-star break.