Boden: Don't expect Kane to be dealt

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Boden: Don't expect Kane to be dealt

Patrick Kane's season -- and this Blackhawks slump -- has given fans, hosts, bloggers and analysts reason to throw his name out there as one big, fat piece of trade bait as the Feb. 27 deadline approaches.

But folks, despite a call by many that the organization needs to make a blockbuster move, it's not going to happen this season.

It's ironic that we haven't seen nearly as many pictures or rumors or innuendo about Kane off the ice this season, yet he's having the toughest season of his young career. He's been a team player this year more than any and hasn't gotten the rewards. The performance leads to more calls, and more finger-pointing, and certainly Kane's year has put his value under the microscope.

Jeremy Roenick's opinion that the Hawks might look into what they could get in return comes as a result of what he's put up -- or hasn't put up -- statistically compared to what some of the other "core" guys have done this season.

Kane's status as a face of the franchise and cornerstone for the future has not changed. Moving him would obviously involve a long, hard look at what he's capable of doing for another 15 years, the quality of what you get in return, how much of a long-term need whatever would come in return fills, and how they replace him in the lineup.

The wise-crackers this year would say he's easy to replace based on his stats. Another factor involves salaries coming and going. And, of course, the popular rumor -- a couple of years running now -- is sending Kane to his hometown for Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller.

There are other scenarios by all of us amateur GMs: Tim Thomas, Jonathan Bernier, Cam Ward. But your slam-dunk, No. 1, what-will-we-do-if-Corey-Crawford-gets-away-in-free-agency Fan Club of a year ago was served and the man with two more years left on his contract becomes...a backup? Traded to someone else? Providing what in return? There are many facets to this.

Right now, based on the lack of sellers and teams still feeling they're in the playoff race, the opinion here is Feb. 27 will have very few -- if any -- blockbusters throughout the NHL. The Blackhawks could've helped their trade deadline cause during this losing streak by beating the likes of Calgary, Colorado and Phoenix and get them thinking more as sellers than buyers.

It's not impossible, just don't hold your breath for those anxious to ship the guy who scored your Stanley Cup-clinching goal out of town for the sake of doing something and immediate gratification. Stan Bowman's not in line with J.R.'s thinking. Of course, he'd always listen. Just don't believe Kane will be aggressively shopped.

As I said on Chicago Tribune Live on Monday after our interview with Bowman, I just don't see any huge, imminent organizational earthquakes. But if this losing streak stretches to 12, 13, and beyond -- of course the folks in charge can change their minds with continued misery.

And as I also said on CTL that day: if this group doesn't regroup soon and misses the playoffs in a season of such huge expectations because of a massive collapse, everything gets re-evaluated. Upstairs, behind the bench and on the ice -- Kane and everyone else in uniform included.

Blackhawks notebook: A busy draft, free agency and RFAs

Blackhawks notebook: A busy draft, free agency and RFAs

Eight draft picks in about 3 ½ hours. It was a busy Saturday for the Blackhawks, and when general manager Stan Bowman talked that afternoon about the team’s Day 2 haul, he came prepared.

“I have my little cheat sheet,” Bowman said of the paper on which he had written the Blackhawks’ eight newest prospects.

After a few days’ worth of moves the Blackhawks focused on the future, taking nine players over two days at the NHL Draft. It was a successful weekend for the Blackhawks, who hosted the draft for the first time and built up assets, especially on the blue line. Five of the Blackhawks’ nine selections were defensemen.

“One of the things we talked about was looking at the market. There’s a high value on defensemen. We’re not necessarily looking at the draft but our team this year and over the next couple of years; those are the assets that are valuable around the league,” Bowman said. “Look at the trade Calgary made [for Travis Hamonic], defensemen are a valuable commodity. That was a priority coming in and we were able to accomplish it.”

What comes next

The Blackhawks got what they wanted at this weekend’s draft but the focus will soon shift, as free agency opens on July 1. It remains to be seen what the Blackhawks will have cap-wise come a week from now. Currently, according to CapFriendly.com, they’re $1.445 million over the $75 million cap. It’s doubtful the Blackhawks apply the long-term injured reserve tag on Marian Hossa during the offseason. It’s possible they could still trade Marcus Kruger to gain some space. Bowman said, one way or another, “there will be some movement.”

“We’ll bring some players in, I don’t know how many, what position or what level,” he said. “This is where there’s a lot of activity, the couple weeks in the middle of June until the middle of July. That’s when the most changes happen. We’ll go to work, now that we’re past this.”

Wait for it

The Blackhawks also have to decide whether or not to qualify restricted free agents Dennis Rasmussen and Tomas Jurco. Bowman said that’ll be decided by Monday.

“I’ve had discussions with both agents,” he said. “I don’t have an answer right now but we’ll have that worked out in the next day and a half.”

Niklas Hjalmarsson reflects on time with Blackhawks: 'I had the best time in Chicago'

Niklas Hjalmarsson reflects on time with Blackhawks: 'I had the best time in Chicago'

Niklas Hjalmarsson heard some of the rumors, but not to a large degree. The former Blackhawks defenseman wasn’t spending a lot of time on the internet reading up on his potential fate. He figured he’d still stay put in Chicago.

“But when my agent called me about the 10-team list, I understood it was serious. Stan [Bowman] wouldn’t ask for that unless they made up their mind already,” Hjalmarsson said via conference call on Saturday. “That’s when it hit me that I’m probably not going to put the Hawks jersey on anymore.”

Indeed, Hjalmarsson’s next jersey will be that of the Arizona Coyotes, who acquired him in exchange for defenseman Connor Murphy on Friday. Hjalmarsson’s departure marks the end of the line for another Blackhawks core player, and this one is jarring in how it will change the team’s defense.

Speaking of change, Hjalmarsson faces a lot of it himself now. Sure, there’s the obvious change for a guy who’s played his entire career in one place. It’s new surroundings and a new team, on which he knows former Blackhawks teammate Antti Raanta and fellow countryman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

But the Coyotes have dealt with a lot of upheaval lately. Goaltender Mike Smith is gone. So is veteran Shane Doan. On Thursday, head coach Dave Tippett and the Coyotes parted ways.

“They’re on a rebuild, a lot of new faces, lot of changes,” Hjalmarsson said. “It’s tough to know what to expect but I think they’re a hungry organization that wants to win like other teams. I’m looking forward to try to contribute with playing my game, just try to get the organization back in the playoffs.”

Hjalmarsson should find chemistry with Ekman-Larsson – the two were teammates in the Winter Olympics in Sochi – and Hjalmarsson will likely play a bigger role with the Coyotes. Arizona will probably look to Hjalmarsson a lot during its rebuild, given his Cup-winning history.

The first 24 hours were full of mixed emotions of Hjalmarsson. With his limited no-move clause, he was always a likely candidate to be moved from a Blackhawks team laden will full no-move clauses. He’s turning a page, but he won’t forget his time in Chicago anytime soon.

“I’m trying to always be a positive guy,” Hjalmarsson said. “I spent my whole 20s in Chicago, 10 unbelievable years. I didn’t think I’d win three Cups. Hopefully I can get one more before my career is over. I had the best time in Chicago, enjoyed every single year, playing in front of the best fans in the league. I’ve been spoiled. Now it’s time for me and my family to move on and seize the opportunity in Arizona and create some new fond memories.”