A Big Name To Trade…Is It Hammer Time?

There are three established Blackhawks which many fans seem to think could be dealt this summer if Stan Bowman wants to retool. They are Brian Campbell, Patrick Sharp and Niklas Hjalmarsson. Let’s take a look if trading any of the three is a real possibility.

If the Hawks are able to deal Campbell they would have to alter their style of play. That may happen anyway but Campbell’s importance in generating offense should not be discounted. Nick Leddy might be as good of a puck mover as Campbell someday. But that day won’t come next season.

Campbell is too expensive for most teams to consider acquiring. If the Hawks would deal Campbell they would want to open cap space, not carry the same salary burden with a newly acquired player. In essence the Hawks would be looking to distribute some of the money spent on their defenders to other areas of need.

All reports point to Campbell not wanting to leave the Windy City. He also has a no movement clause, so most likely he will be on the ice for the Blackhawks this October.

Sharp is the type of player most teams would love to have. The word going around the league last summer was the Hawks were going to be forced to trade Sharp.

Those which closely follow the Hawks will remember Bowman called a mid summer press conference to dispel any trade rumors involving Sharp. Bowman sent a message to other GM’s and also let Sharp concentrate on getting married and not worry about being dealt.

My feelings are the same as those mentioned by Bowman as to the importance of Sharp to the Blackhawks. He is a leader and has a big presence in the dressing room. Sharp brings some maturity to a young Hawks’ squad. He is also a big fan favorite. Sharp’s production has been consistent.

There are a couple of factors which would limit Sharp’s trade value and also could help put a more realistic dollar amount on his next contract..

Although Sharp had a very good season and scored 34 goals, 12 of his tallies came on the power play. Back door tap-ins are pretty but Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane wouldn’t be following Sharp to his new destination. A potential suitor will look at that stat, and so will Bowman when negotiating a contract extension for Sharp.

Sharp is 29 years old, so he will be looking for a big contract with some security. Management values Sharp a lot, so they won’t lose him over a $1 million. Sharp and the Hawks will probably agree on a four year contract extension for a tolerable amount. The price for 30 goal scorers is not going to down as the salary cap will most likely continue to rise.

If the Hawks were going to deal Sharp, doing so last summer would have made the most sense. The acquiring club would have had the surety of Sharp being locked up for $3.9 million for two more seasons. Now his trade value is not as great due to a contract which would expire after the upcoming season.

Bowman has commented the Hawks will look to resign Sharp, which could happen by the beginning of next season. Look for Sharp to get about a $1 million raise per season. My take is he will sign a four year extension valued in the $20 million range.

There isn’t any cost certainty for a potential suitor of Sharp, but that is not the case for Hjalmarsson. Hammer signed an offer sheet last summer and would be eligible to be traded by mid-July.

Hjalmarsson is signed through 2013-2014, at $3.5 million per season. That amount is high for a third pairing, penalty killing specialist which might be his role next season with the Blackhawks.

If Chris Campoli and Leddy are playing in Chicago next year they will eat into Hammer’s ice time.

Realistically Hjalmarsson may not fit here as a top four defenseman any longer.The key to dealing Hjalmarsson is he could be worth more to another club than to the Hawks.

Although Hjalmarsson doesn’t score many goals, he could be an effective top pairing dman for some teams. On most clubs Hammer would be at least a top four defender and that makes him valuable trade bait, plus he is still young. Hjalmarsson’s salary is not moderate but not really out of line for a number two or three defender.

A potential suitor could plug Hjalmarsson in for the next three seasons and not have to worry about contract negotiations. Hammer has been highly praised in the past by Scottie Bowman. If there wasn’t a salary cap the Hawks would probably not consider trading him.

For a number of reasons Hjalmarsson will most likely be the biggest name to have a new address in the fall.

Next week I will discuss what the Blackhawks need to do this summer beyond the trading of one big name player. Valuable additions can be found for under $2 million.

The Vancouver Canucks added Chris Higgins ($1.6 million) and Maxim Lapierre ($900,000) before the trade deadline. Those two players have proven to be great assets. The Rangers Brandon Prust ($800,000) is the type of players the Hawks desperately need.

Those values are not easy to find, but they are out there. Blackhawk management will need to define their style of play and correctly target additions.

Al’s Shots

I did an interview Thursday night with Jamie Shalley and Rob Higgins from XM Home Ice. We talked bout the Canuck series and changes for next season.

Here are the two links….

11-04-28 Ice Cap Cimaglia part1

11-04-28 Ice Cap Cimaglia part2

The interview is only about 12 minutes long but it was delivered in two parts.

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  1. Dave Morris says:

    Al, terrific overview…thanks.

    If I may…to add a few points:

    > As you make clear, trading a Campbell or a Sharp dramatically alters the way the Blackhawks play hockey. We only have to look at how the team struggles when these two are out of the lineup. The chorus of voices that have called in the past for trading Dave Bolland, should also have had their perspectives adjusted by the Hawks’ difficulties in his absence.

    >Hjalmarsson put himself in a delicate situation by accepting the offer sheet and declaring publicly that he was excited by the opportunity. Hawks MGMT no doubt saw this and while they realized they couldn’t afford to let him walk, they may well have been planning an exit strategy that would see Hammer used as a bargaining chip later on.

    >This year’s FA market is going to be interesting. Already, the Habs have a situation where they have 11 d-men under contract. Keeping Markov, Gill, Hamrlik, Gorges and Sopel isn’t going to be easy…so Gauthier may have a veteran whose rights he is ready to part with. Obviously, given Sopel’s desire to stay close to Chicago, the thought of him returning pops up.

    >The Coyotes and/or the Thrashers could be moving this summer to Winnipeg. The NHL is no longer denying the reports that a team move is possible and/or imminent. So the question is, will either Maloney or Dudley be looking to move some guys who don’t really want to go to the ‘Peg?

    >While you’re correct that players like Lapierre and Higgins have been good short term signings for VAN, don’t forget those two wore out their welcomes in MTL, NY/FLA (Higgins), and ANA (Lapierre) before landing in VanCity. So ‘cheap’ vets sometimes come with a warning label.

    >Bowman has seen for himself that adding some size and nastiness up front, and/or on the blue line, is a necessity in the headhunting-friendly NHL. How he manages that, is going to be a major challenge.

    As a footnote, those who have already condemned Kyle Beach to obscurity might want to note that guys like Matt Cooke, Dan Carcillo, Steve Downie, Raffi Torres, Jarkko Ruutu, and Sean Avery, to name just a few of the ‘loose cannons’ in the league, continue to hold down jobs. There are reasons why players ‘with an edge’ (to use the cliche) are employed. And it’s not to put Norman Vincent Peale’s teachings to work.

    Summer will be anything but dull.

  2. Al Cimaglia says:

    The problem with the comparison with Beach with all of those you mentioned is two fold..

    Probably only Downie can play as a top six forward…

    What Beach could be is EXACTLY what the Hawks need now and he was drafted at #11 as a top six forward possibility…A power forward forward with hands.

    As far as Higgins and Lappy…there is usually a reason players are dealt and usually the same bad traits cost them in salary but…They could be the reason the Canucks win the Cup.

    A player like Prust would have been a great target last summer instead of Sott.

    Moving forward the Hawks have to sharpen their radar on affordable role players.

    • Dave Morris says:

      Al, just to clarify the reason I mentioned Beach, is that he already has the ‘loose cannon’ reputation…whether he turns out to be an NHL player, only time will tell. Not having seen Kyle play, I have no opinion on his potential…just saying that the type of player he is reputed to be, is usually a handful, like the examples I cited.

      Brandon Prust instead of Scott is OK in theory, just like Arron Asham and/or a number of ‘grinder’ players could be supposed…but Hawks MGMT thought that in Scott they were getting a reserve d-man who could be a policeman. Sometimes things don’t work out as planned.

      IMO the impending CBA renegotiation, even delayed by one season, is going to impact the length and term of contract offered to the kinds of ‘role’ players you would like to see in CHI.

      There has been a step-by-step attrition of older veterans over the past few years as the NHL looks to go younger/cheaper with its stars getting the big dough/term.

      So the pool of FAs this summer in the ‘plumber’ category could be larger.

      Is that the solution? Not necessarily, which may be what the Hawk brain trust is mulling over.

      The ideal scenario, in my view, is to work towards a NSH-DET-PIT-WSH model where players are developed within the system, and arrive in Chicago ready to slot in to the lineup.

      That takes time, but it’s ultimately the only sustainable approach…otherwise you’re constantly turning over the roster.

      And the performance of new faces like Crawford, Leddy and Smith leads one to believe that Bowman doesn’t really need to add much.

      In this case, a Hjalmarsson becomes a VERY attractive asset in trade.

      To Lee’s question, Al probably knows better than I do. I’ve never seen Hammer as a hammer, more of a positional player who can deliver the occasional hit.

      Zach Bogosian, anyone? ;-)

      • Al Cimaglia says:

        NO Bogosian here mainly becasue there is a lot of $$ committed to the D now.

        I wrote the other day about forming a definite opinion on a young player too quickly…I seldom do that…and won’t do it with Beach.

        What I will do is not put him on the radar for Chicago until I see or hear differently.

        Anything from Beach next season would be a surprise.

        The important point…

        As we can defend or bash past decisions is the Hawks have not done a very good job over a long period of time in acquiring veteran talent.

        Lets leave one year of John Madden out and paying the motherload for Hossa.

        They must improve in that area….young cheap talent is great, but there is no substitute for experience.

  3. Al Cimaglia says:

    Its too bad Doan has such a high salary…He will be a great addition for someone.

    Most likely a West Coast club.

  4. Lee says:

    I have a question for both of you guys. When Hammer was in Rockford he had a rep as a very big banger with some very impressive hit numbers. What happened? Please don’t tell me that it all changed with his suspension because if that’s true than he should be the first one of of here because his game is now very limited

    • rock says:

      IMO – no one on the team really delivers a bone crunching hit. It has been stated several times through various second hand sources that the Hawks coaching staff preach position first and foremost and if that means not drilling a guy then you don’t drill them.

      Anyone out of position, especially with fringe or younger players, get limited time under the current regime so that could be a big part of the issue.

      I think it is more a system/discipline approach than anything else. Which is fine when you have the horses but can be counterproductive when there are holes.

      Plus Hammer has always struck me as more of a stay at home so Soup can do whatever he wants type defender, which is what he excelled at last year.

    • Al Cimaglia says:

      I would be careful when taking the pub coming out of Rockford and trying to translate a reputation there into one in the NHL.

      Hammer will get a bit heavier and may get somewhat meaner….Brent Seabrook did…

      But I won’t wait for that to happen becasue who knows if it ever will.

      • Steve from Rockford says:

        This is correct. The Hogs do not have any big hitters really. They have some physical guys, but the Hawks are going to have to look outside the organization for the size this team desperately needs.

    • Al Cimaglia says:


      Also there is a big difference in the speed of play from Rockford to Chicago.

      It isn’t as easy to line someone up in the NHL.

  5. Living the Cup says:

    I’m already excited for next year and seeing what this team which I expect to start out in Oct. ready to make a point that they are an elite team, can do.

    The core, barring injury should perform considerably better as a group. I’m optimistic about the new young guys like Smith, Leddy and Kruger and maybe another – Morin?

    There should an addition or two at least by then. I had been thinking that they’d go after a centre first but maybe they’ll live with Sharp at centre for the time being and spend on someone like Ladd who might be available. Erik Cole is another name I’ve heard. That wouldn’t be bad either.

  6. shruew says:

    Hjammer is the obvious choice to go if Campoli stays. Obviously it would depend on who they get with the money, but my preference would be to keep Campoli and Hjamster.

    Leddy can slump, there’s a reason Campoli’s been passed around…

    I hope (and expect) that there’s one usable 3rd pairing defensemen in the AHL out of Stanton, Connelly, Lalonde, or Vishnevskiy (though I don’t really think Vishnevskiy has much of a chance, I listed him as a personal bias).

    I also love the shuffling that the off season always bring, so I can’t wait to see how it all shapes up.

    • Dave Morris says:

      @Shreuw> For the record, Campoli hasn’t exactly been “passed around”.


      He was drafted by the Isles and went to Ottawa for a first rounder. Bryan Murray traded him because the Senators decided to blow up their roster.

      I’ve watched Campoli quite a bit over the past few years, and IMO he’s exactly the kind of versatile d-man who fits the Hawks’ style. Not afraid to take a hit and not shy of making a hit.

      But as some have pointed out, “bone crunching” is not the way this team is built. It’s built for speed and puck possession.

      Any changes made to the roster, can’t be ‘knee-jerk’. The club had to be ripped apart last year because of the cap, now Bowman has a chance to work without that pressure.

      If they don’t trade Hjalmarsson, and still manage to get some size/nastiness and experience up front, that may be all that’s needed.

      We still don’t know what the FA crop will look like, nor what the draft will bring.

  7. djd says:

    “For a number of reasons Hjalmarsson will most likely be the biggest name to have a new address in the fall.”

    Al, you’ve been as consistent with this statement as the day is long. Over time I have come to think that you’re absolutely correct here. In spite of the fact that Bowman Sr. thinks he is the second coming of Lidstrom, moving him seems to make even more sense now that the ‘hawks have a known quantity in Leddy. It’s apparent more toughness is required on the back end and one or two currently on the roster will be donning new jerseys next year, IMO.

    For Lee and Rock, I think Hammer was a banger in his first year and wasn’t so bad last year either. He may not be up there in number of hits, but he knew how to lay one out when there was an opportunity. I suspect he’s been banged up for most of the year. He does take a lot of pucks and he is a durable player …

    • Al Cimaglia says:


      Here is the key…

      Realistically Hjalmarsson may not fit here as a top four defenseman any longer.The key to dealing Hjalmarsson is he could be worth more to another club than to the Hawks.

      The Hawks could sign a PK shot blocker for under $2 mill or so….Maybe a Gill or even Sopel.

  8. Craig N says:

    Al great discussion. While hjalmarsson seems like the obvious candidate to move Scotty has compared him to kronvall who he loves. What if and it’s a big what if the hawks present sharp with a contract offer and he says no?? Then he might be the guy moved and hjalmarsson stays.
    Another point with Keith Campbell leddy and campoli you have similar style lefty defensemen , sea brook and hjalmarsson are the guys that stay at home and do a lot of dirty work. I was a bit perplexed at hjalmarssons lack of ice time at times. He does possess a nice low slapshot.
    I think the ultimate question is who is the hawks main off season target ? And what will he cost

    • Al Cimaglia says:

      Hey Craig…

      Interesting “what if”…although my view is Sharp is worth more to the Hawks than he would be to others..

      The opposite case with Hammer…

      Let me ask you a question..

      Who is more valuable to the Hawks..

      A $3.5 mill dman who plays 10-14 mins a game or..

      A $5 mill forward who will score 30-40 goals??

      If the Hawks have one legit defenseman prospect in Rockford now…than Sharp is needed more.

      Bowman compared Hammer to Lidstrom I thought…but either way… I don’t discount Hammer could be a Kronwall someday.

      The issue is what the Hawks need more next year and the following three years.

      Maybe Morin can be a goal scorer in the NHL but until he can stay healthy…How can he be relied on?

      For now a third pairing shot blocker can be found which won’t cost close to $3.5 mill…

      • Jon says:

        Here’s what Rockford can offer:
        Connelly: undersized, puck mover, offensive-oriented.
        Lalonde: Not as far along, again, more of an offensive-oriented game.
        Stanton: Good size, can hit, came on strong in Rockford, not sure he’s quite ready yet.
        Olsen: You can see the potential, but is a year or two away at least.

        Connelly is the guy I’d say is the most ready to take a shot at the NHL, but the ‘Hawks have several guys that already do what he does.

        I think they need a more physical, stay-home player, which Rockford is short on right now.

        • Al Cimaglia says:

          I have heard pretty much the same but at least there are three or four possibilitities on defense…..

          There are not three or four possibilities concerning top six forwards who seem likley to be coming to Chicago in the next two years.

          • Jon says:

            Agreed. They have nothing down in Rockford to replace Sharp’s production up front.

      • Craig N says:

        Al, I agree you can’t keep sacrificing guys because of hjalmarssons contract. They already did it with niemi. To trade sharp in the scenario you presented would be crazy. I just hope sharp and his agent don’t price themselves out of the hawks range.

        Btw, it pains me to see San Jose doing so well when they were the ones that slapped the rich offer on hjalmarsson then settled for the collateral damage so to speak in niemi. I can’t fault Wilson for bettering his team but can’t say I like seeing it.

  9. scumdog says:

    Honestly, and this has been my opinion since the end of last season, is to dish off Kane to free up cap space. He takes a big salary hit, and really isn’t the performer he’s been talked up as.

    Most people argue with me on this, but I really think if they had let him go at the end of last season, they could have kept a better core of grinders and finished a little higher.

    Bottom line, on a team with Hossa, Toews and Sharp, you don’t need another guy taking up first line cap space.

    • Sav says:

      Hossa hasn’t played like a first-line player since he came to Chicago. He seems to need a a high-skilled, European type passer to play with, something the Hawks lack.

      And, in my opinion, you don’t trade Kane–who has a no-movement clause anyway–unless you get at least two premiere prospects for him.

  10. Jeff Quirin says:

    Al, quick question on Hammer.

    Would the Hawks consider dealing him in Division? There is a good chance the Blues could take on a top 2 pairing left handed Dman to pair with Pietrnagelo or Shattenkirk (depending on who Jackman is with).

    Armstrong has been making “hockey trades”. Could Hammer be flipped for a more cap friendly option? A Dman + a forward or a 1-for-1 to get a cap friendly forward?

    Thinking Polak (potentially cheaper to retain than Hammer), Nikitin + someone like D’Agostini? Or would it take someone like a Steen (pretty even swap money wise) to open the door?

    • Al Cimaglia says:


      If the Hawks want to trade Hammer I believe there would be enough suitors so he wouldn’t have to be traded to a Division or Conference rival.

      I would think it would be highly unlikely Bowamn would trade him to the Blues.