Blackhawks notebook: Stan Bowman ‘actively having conversations’ about trade possibilitiesBen Popeon March 18, 2021 at 8:18 pm

Calvin de Haan is a veteran the Hawks might consider trading ahead of the deadline. | AP Photos

Plus, the Hawks signed prospect Josiah Slavin this week and are “hoping” Dylan Strome returns to action soon.

The Blackhawks have numerous routes available to them as trade chatter grows around the NHL.

General manager Stan Bowman said during a live taping of the team’s podcast Wednesday that he’s “actively having conversations” with other GMs, even though the April 12 trade deadline remains more than three weeks away.

“I don’t know if you would call us a seller or a buyer,” Bowman said. “We’re willing to do a little bit of both, but we’re not going to sell off players we think have a future for us.

“We’re trying to add players that we think can be part of our future. I don’t think we’re going to be looking for rental players who will be here a couple of months and having to give up some top, young assets to do it.”

The Hawks could viably pursue three different approaches to the trade market.

With abundant salary cap space this season and next, the Hawks could accumulate some valuable prospects or draft picks by taking on another space-strapped team’s bad contract. Bowman confirmed Wednesday he’s open to doing so, and it would make a lot of sense.

The Hawks own several veterans they could sell off for more picks and prospects. Mattias Janmark and Carl Soderberg are both pending unrestricted free agents with some value.

Lucas Wallmark’s contract is also expiring (although he’ll be a restricted free agent); his lack of a steady role makes him expendable if there’s interest. Calvin de Haan appears on track to be exposed in the expansion draft, so the Hawks could look to trade him before then.

And, as Bowman mentioned, the Hawks could also consider acquiring a young player with contract term that could help both this season — the team is still in a playoff spot for now, despite their recent downturn — and in the future.

The Hawks must be mindful of the fact they’re currently two contracts away from the 50-contract limit. They also won’t completely gut their roster, so probably only one or two of Janmark, Soderberg, Wallmark and de Haan will exit.

Slavin signs

The Hawks signed wing Josiah Slavin, their 2018 seventh-round pick, to his entry-level contract on Tuesday.

Slavin’s two-year deal officially kicks in next season — a move likely done to avoid inching closer to that 50-contract limit right now — but he’ll spend the rest of this season in Rockford on an AHL “tryout” contract.

The younger brother of Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin, Josiah Slavin played for the Chicago Steel in 2018-19 and then Colorado College in 2019-20 and 2020-21. His college season ended last week; he scored 13 points in 22 games.

The Hawks will need to make decisions by this summer on whether to sign or relinquish the rights to their last four picks from the 2017 draft — Roope Laavainen, Parker Foo, Jakub Galvas and Josh Ess — as well as 2019 seventh-rounder Cole Moberg.

Strome close to return

The Hawks are “hoping” Dylan Strome will play in one of the two games (Thursday or Saturday) in this series against the Lightning, coach Jeremy Colliton said Thursday.

Strome hasn’t appeared since Feb. 19 due to a concussion but has been practicing with the team since March 8.

“Any time you can inject some new energy, [it’s good],” Colliton said. “He’s shown he can produce at our level. And [it’d create] a little more competition as well in the forward group, which we would welcome.”

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