Second-line center trade tricky for Hawks

June, 25, 2014
Jun 25
5:51
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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Patrick Sharp Claus Andersen/Getty ImagesThe Blackhawks could use a strong second-line center, but seem unlikely to deal Patrick Sharp
The Chicago Blackhawks are still in need of a second-line center. There are reportedly some respectable second-line centers who could be acquired for the right trade.

Let’s assume the Blackhawks aren’t going to hand the keys to second-line center over to Teuvo Teravainen, Andrew Shaw or someone else already in the organization. Teravainen may need time to get comfortable in the NHL. Shaw’s second-line success in the playoffs may not be enough to be confident he’s the man for the job. So, there are reasons why the Blackhawks may want to obtain a proven top-6 center.

With all that laid out, the next question is: What would the Blackhawks be willing to give up to bring in someone like the Vancouver Canucks' Ryan Kesler, the Ottawa Senators' Jason Spezza or the San Jose Sharks' Joe Thornton? Some of the names thrown around amidst trade rumors for those players have been Blackhawks forwards Patrick Sharp, Teravainen and Brandon Saad.

Sharp’s agent Rick Curran of The Orr Hockey Group quickly shot down Wednesday any rumors of his client being shipped off by the Blackhawks this offseason. Curran said he was assured by Blackhawks general Stan Bowman that Sharp wasn’t going anywhere.

“There’s absolutely no truth to it,” Currant said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “They’re not trading him. He’s the last guy on the list who they would trade. He’s not available.

“Believe me, I’ve spoken to Stan a couple times, as recently as a few days ago. There’s absolutely no truth to it.”

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman wouldn't address Sharp's situation on Thursday.

“I’ve never commented on rumors, and I’m not going to start today,” Bowman said during a conference call. “I don’t think it’s a helpful process for anybody.”

Bowman has been vocal about keeping his core together and making a run at multiple Stanley Cups with Sharp and a number of other veterans. Even as he's gotten older, the 32-year-old Sharp has continued to produce at a high rate for the Blackhawks.

Saad and Teravainen don’t exactly fall into the core group and aren’t veterans, but they have been considered two pieces to Bowman’s big-picture puzzle.

Saad is 21 years old and has already proven capable of being a top-6 forward. If he can figure out his consistency issues and play more often like he did in the Western Conference finals, he has the chance to be another game-changer for the Blackhawks.

Teravainen is only 19 and has only played in three NHL games, but the hype for him has escalated ever since the Blackhawks took him in the first round in 2012. If he’s anywhere near where expectations have been placed, Teravainen could be one of the league’s more entertaining and productive offensive players.

The Blackhawks simply aren’t going to give up Saad and Teravainen even if there is an advantage in the real short term of doing so. But that doesn’t mean the Blackhawks are out of the running for one of those second-line centers.

The Blackhawks possess some valuable prospects who could be packaged with a veteran to entice another team. They might be able to work out a trade if they include one of their up-and-coming defensemen, the rights to Kevin Hayes, a 2010 first-round pick who they aren’t likely going to sign, and even someone like Jeremy Morin, who has proven he can score at the NHL level, and include someone on the current roster to help provide cap relief. If the Blackhawks can get a little creative, they can hold onto their present and future core pieces and still upgrade at second-line center.
Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Patrick Sharp
PTS GOALS AST +/-
78 34 44 13
OTHER LEADERS
GoalsP. Sharp 34
AssistsD. Keith 55
+/-M. Hossa 28
GAAC. Crawford 2.26