There’s been no shortage of turnover in Chicago this summer, with the team acquiring Olli Maatta, Calvin de Haan, Andrew Shaw, and Alexander Nylander, signing Robin Lehner, and drafting Kirby Dach, while watching Dominik Kahun, John Hayden, Gustav Forsling, Marcus Kruger, and Henri Jokiharju depart. Yet, the re-shaping of the roster may not be done yet. Blackhawks insider Jay Zawaski of the Madhouse Chicago Hockey Podcast reports that the team is actively shopping young forward Brendan Perlini.
Perlini, 23, is currently a restricted free agent looking for his first deal following the expiration of his entry-level contract. While the big winger was trending towards a nice pay day through his first two NHL seasons with the Arizona Coyotes, the status quo is much less clear since Perlini was dealt to the Blackhawks this past season alongside Dylan Strome. 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. While it’s obvious that this could cause a rift between the team and player when it comes to contract negotiations, there was never any indication that it went so far as Chicago seeking to trade Perlini rather than re-sign him, at least until now.
With very little salary cap space remaining – approximately $2.04MM according to CapFriendly – and a lineup that still needs three more forwards, the Blackhawks have to be both creative and careful with how they fill out the roster. If the team is struggling to convince Perlini, a player they might not be sold on, to take a deal that fits within their cap constraints, then shopping him makes sense. On the other hand, they could be giving up too quickly on a young player who dealt with a change of scenery but has previously looked like a future 20-goal scorer. It never hurts to test the trade waters and see what the return may be for a player, but Chicago will have to make sure that they’re moving Perlini for the right reasons and for a fair return or risk ending up on the wrong side of a potential deal.