The Chicago Blackhawks were seeking more room under the salary cap, and found an Arizona Coyotes team that could help them out, for a price.
Statistically Speaking examines the Coyotes acquiring a couple of useful inexpensive players from the Blackhawks so that they would also take on Marian Hossa’s cap hit.
2017-2018 NHL STATS
|MacKenzie Entwhistle||Hamilton (OHL)||RW||49||13||25||38||+16|
|Jordan Maletta||Tucson (AHL)||C||29||0||4||4||+1|
|Andrew Campbell||Tucson (AHL)||D||60||2||4||6||+7|
The Coyotes Get: RW Marian Hossa, RW Vinnie Hinostroza, D Jordan Oesterle and a third-round pick
Hossa, 39, should be a future Hall of Famer, a brilliant two-way winger who won three Stanley Cups and scored 525 goals. He’s also not going to play for Arizona, only moving in this case to send his $5.275-million cap hit to the Coyotes.
Hinostroza is a 24-year-old speedy winger who has 39 points in 106 career games, but he was quite effective for the Blackhawks last season, putting up 25 points in 50 games and generating high-quality scoring chances.
Signed for two more seasons, at a rather reasonable $1.5-million cap hit, Hinostroza is a nice addition for the Coyotes, capable of filling a top-nine role.
A 26-year-old defenceman who got his first long look in the NHL last season, Oesterle was solid enough while playing more than 20 minutes per game in 55 games. He can move the puck and has one year remaining on a bargain contract that pays him $650,000. As the Coyotes defence is currently constructed, Oesterle may be left to battle with Kevin Connauton for the sixth spot on the depth chart.
The Blackhawks defenceman whom Hinostroza most commonly shared the ice with last season was Oesterle, and they outshot (51.9 CF%) and outscored (17-7) the opposition in 231 minutes of 5-on-5 play.
A third-round pick offers about a 27.6% chance of yielding an NHL player.
The Blackhawks Get: C Marcus Kruger, RW MacKenzie Entwhistle, C Jordan Maletta, D Andrew Campbell and a fifth-round pick
Kruger, 28, returns to Chicago, the team for which he has played 398 of his 446 career games. He generates little offence, but is a quality defensive centre. Even in a season in which he fell out of favour in Carolina, playing a career-low 10:50 per game before getting demoted to the AHL, but he remained a capable shot suppressor.
Presumably, Kruger will be thrust into a familiar role in Chicago, starting the vast majority of his shifts in the defensive zone. He’s expensive for a fourth-line centre, and even with some salary retained, he counts as a $2.775-million cap hit for the Blackhawks, but he should have the trust of the coaching staff.
A third-round pick of the Coyotes in 2017, 18-year-old MacKenzie Entwhistle is a 6-foot-3 winger who produced 55 points in 70 (regular-season plus playoff) games for the OHL-champion Hamilton Bulldogs. He’s a worthwhile prospect, but it will be a few years before he’s even ready to compete for a job.
Maletta is a 23-year-old centre who has lost his appeal as a prospect after managing four assists in 29 AHL games last season. He’ll have a chance to play for the Blackhawks’ farm team in Rockford.
30-year-old Andrew Campbell is a very good AHL defenceman who has appeared in 42 NHL games. He will be ticketed for Rockford as well, but should be able to play a significant defensive role there.
The fifth-round pick has about a 14.8% chance of becoming an NHL player; it’s a downgrade from the third round, but it’s a small decrease in value.
Verdict: The opportunity to unload Hossa’s contract naturally came at a price for the Blackhawks and it cost them a couple of inexpensive but decent pros in Hinostroza and Oesterle. The value proposition for the Blackhawks presumably comes from a future deal, where the improved cap flexibility could allow them to take a shot at one of the more prominent names on the trade market (Justin Faulk, Jeff Skinner, Max Pacioretty etc.), but this deal is a good move for the Coyotes, who grab a couple of assets just because they have the room to take on Hossa’s cap hit.
Scott Cullen can be reached at email@example.com