The relationship between the Chicago Blackhawks and young forward Brendan Perlini has seemingly been a tumultuous one from the start. Fortunately for both sides, it appears that relationship could soon becoming to an end. After a start to the season that neither party expected or has been content with, TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that the Blackhawks have given Perlini and agent Darren Ferris permission to seek a trade. Both sides have agreed that it is in the best interest of both player and team for Perlini to find a new home, so a trade could be imminent.
Perlini, 23, was trending towards becoming a legitimate top-six forward through his first two NHL seasons with the Arizona Coyotes. The No. 12 overall pick in 2014 by the ‘Yotes, Perlini was a big, strong prospect whose aggressive offensive game seemed built for the NHL. In his first pro campaign, he played in 57 NHL games with Arizona, followed by 74 games in his sophomore season. Through those first 131 contests, Perlini recorded 31 goals and 51 points and looked like he had the makings of an impact power forward in the NHL.
Yet, Arizona made the somewhat surprising decision to deal both he and Dylan Strome to the Blackhawks last season in exchange for the more established Nick Schmaltz. While Strome took off in Chicago, Perlini struggled and only began to find his game late in the season. Altogether, Perlini recorded just 15 points in more than half a season with the Blackhawks and never looked to fully gain the trust of the coaching staff. It thus came as little surprise that Perlini’s name was floated on the rumor mill this summer while he worked through contract negotiations as a restricted free agent. The two sides finally came to an agreement – if you can call it that – in early September, as Perlini signed his one-year, $874K qualifying offer. The move signified that neither the Blackhawks nor Perlini saw Chicago as a long-term fit at that time and things have certainly not gotten better since. Perlini has played in just one game with the ‘Hawks and has been left to watch the remainder from the press box. He is desperately in need of a change of scenery and today’s report likely comes as a major relief.
A young forward with offensive instincts and, at one time anyway, a promising track record should have value on the trade market. Add in his super affordable cap hit of less than $1MM, and teams should be very interested. While other alienated forwards exist on the trade market – the Oilers’ Jesse Puljujarvi and the Islanders’ Josh Ho-Sang – Perlini does not bring the baggage of behavioral questions and career-long underwhelming production that the others do. The Blackhawks also are unlikely to charge a steep price, as Perlini’s value has dropped considerably since the team acquired him and they probably just want to cut bait and move forward. Perlini was once on his way to a solidified top-six role and there will be some team that believes he could get back to that position in his development. Perhaps even the Coyotes would have interest in a reunion, seeing how well Perlini played in his first two seasons with the team. Time will tell what is next for the young forward, but it should take too much time, with both sides incentivized to move on from one another as soon as possible.