Rumblings: Blackhawks gauging interest in Sharp, others

Patrick Sharp could be on his way out of Chicago. Bill Smith/NHLI/Getty Images

The Chicago Blackhawks, as of Monday evening, weren’t that far along in trade talks with any team about any player, including right wing Patrick Sharp.

What general manager Stan Bowman, we hear from other teams, has been doing so far is making his rounds and finding out where the interest level is for some of his players, obviously led by Sharp. In other words, he's getting an understanding of the market. But no specifics had been discussed quite yet with any team.

The Blackhawks aren't totally opposed to taking back a player, by the way, but that player has to make a lot less than Sharp or Bryan Bickell or any player they're moving. The point being, if it's a player the Blackhawks can use, they won't balk at taking a bit of salary back.

So it’s not 100 percent sure that any deal sees only a draft pick or two or a prospect returning.

What is preferable for the Blackhawks, however, is to make the deal happen before the draft. That way they could recoup a draft pick, which is key, given what they gave up from this year's draft for Antoine Vermette (a first-round pick, 30th overall) and Kimmo Timonen (second-round pick, 61st overall). The Blackhawks do have the 54th overall selection, a compensatory pick for not signing 2010 pick Kevin Hayes.

Sharp, meanwhile, has a modified no-trade clause, but the sense is that's not going to be a factor.

There has been very good communication between Rick Curran, Sharp's veteran agent, and Bowman. I think the aim here for Bowman is to find a good spot for Sharp while also taking care of his team's needs.

The Washington Capitals have been rumored to be a possibility, and yes, the Capitals and Blackhawks have talked since the Stanley Cup finals ended, but all of it was very preliminary.

And I think part of the equation for the Caps is whether they can reasonably do this.

They’ve got to re-sign key restricted free agents Braden Holtby, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Marcus Johansson, and see if they can still keep unrestricted free agents Joel Ward, Jay Beagle and Eric Fehr. So while they’re saving money with UFA Mike Green going to market and his $6 million cap hit going off the books, there is still the question whether they can afford Sharp's $5.9 million cap hit on top of re-signing key players. Or even if they can afford it, are they better off using that cap space on two players instead of just one?

I think the Caps really respect what Sharp would bring, both on and off the ice. And I think GM Brian MacLellan reaches out again to Bowman this week, or vice versa -- I mean, they’ll both be in the GMs' meeting Tuesday in Las Vegas -- but whether the next step is taken remains to be seen.

You’ve also got Dale Tallon and the Florida Panthers, the former Blackhawks GM who brought Sharp to Chicago originally via trade. But for the Panthers to do anything, I think they’ve got to move money out first in order to respect their team budget.

Several teams have shown interest in Sharp. Just how serious any of them are, the next three or four days will tell.