The Chicago Blackhawks face big cap trouble coming into their Cup defense. With restricted free agent Brandon Saad left to be signed to a multi-million dollar deal, the Hawks currently have about $7M in cap space against a $71M cap. Once Saad is signed, Chicago will have a mere five forwards and three defenseman spots left to fill will that sub-$7M space left.
To help fix this, Chicago has made it known that right-shooting sniper Patrick Sharp will be available for trade this offseason. Sharp does have a limited no-trade clause, which involves the player having to present a list of 10 teams to which he would accept a trade, but he could always be asked to waive that clause for any team (whether he'd actually waive it remains to be seen).
Yesterday, we got our first taste of what Chicag is asking for.
Per NHL source, CHI currently asking for 1st rd pick, A-level prospect & top 6 forward on entry-level contract for Patrick Sharp #isles— B.D. Gallof (@BDGallof) June 19, 2015
The immediate reaction was a lot of laughter from around the Twittersphere. Sharp, who will be 34 in December and has two seasons left at his $5.9M cap hit is still a good player. He's put up 30 goals in three of the last five years while helping a dominant possession team maintain their dominance (while also playing with some very good players). His numbers last season were down, but so was his shooting percentage. Sharp, a career 11.4% shooter, hit only 7% this year, a number likely to go up.
Despite all that and Sharp being the 2nd best winger on the trade market (behind Phil Kessel), he's certainly not worth what is essentially a younger, cheaper Patrick Sharp plus TWO good assets. Chicago knows this, they're not stupid. The thing that isn't fully known is the extent of stupidity present among the other 29 GMs. Nobody's feelings are hurt by the Hawks asking a ridiculously high price, but they're setting themselves up to not negotiate against their own interests. If you want the moon, you start by asking for the moon and stars; that way when you drop the stars it looks like you're being more reasonable.
The Red Wings Fit?
Sharp represents the 30-goal scoring winger that Detroit is always looking to add, and he's got that bonus right-shooting kind of thing going for him, but he comes at a high price, both trade-wise and cap hit-wise. While Sharp's previous accomplishments say he's likely to do more from a top six forward position than Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, or Johan Franzen, the improvement he brings is marginal for the price.
To me, Sharp seems a better fit for a team that's looking to be only one piece away or one that wants a veteran winger to help a team in a full-youth rebuild come along. Detroit is somewhere between those two considerations, so Sharp doesn't really make sense unless he comes cheap.
The Fan Feeling
Objectively, I can see reasons for adding Sharp if Chicago is forced to panic sell just before the season starts and the Wings have a better feel of what their fowards are going to look like. As a Red Wings fan who remembers Patrick Sharp spearing Nick Lidstrom in the groin during the 2009 WCF, I don't want him. I know, I know... Lidstrom forgave him. Well, Nick Lidstrom is a better person than I am.
Personally, I think that any GM who makes a move for Patrick Sharp before free agency opens should have his head examined. The Hawks may have boldly opened negotiations by asking for something crazy so they could back down to something sane, but they're in a position where the longer teams wait, the more it's possible to force them to take a deal that's a bit crazy in the other direction. I know that being a GM is more about making your own team better than it is about putting the screws to the Blackhawks, but I think both things can be accomplished.