In Chicago, the landscape is shifting, and it’s all centered around the emergence of a young superstar, Connor Bedard. With Bedard’s arrival, the Blackhawks find themselves in a unique position, boasting one of the NHL’s most promising future talents. His presence is expected to captivate audiences and elevate the game of hockey as a whole, but it may take some time for the team to transform into a legitimate contender.
While General Manager Kyle Davidson made efforts to surround Bedard with supporting pieces such as Taylor Hall, Nick Foligno, and Corey Perry, the reality is that these additions alone may not propel the Blackhawks into playoff contention for the 2023-24 season. Consequently, there is a strong possibility that the team will be active in the trade market leading up to the NHL Trade Deadline.
One of the key dynamics of having a player like Bedard on the roster is the positive ripple effect he can create. While the veteran acquisitions will undoubtedly ease his transition into the NHL, his exceptional production has the potential to boost the numbers of those playing alongside him. These improved statistics could make several Blackhawks players more appealing trade assets when the time comes.
One such player is Tyler Johnson.
Among the Blackhawks’ impending free agents, Johnson stands out as a compelling player to watch. If he maintains a high level of performance, and if the team is willing to retain part of his $5 million cap hit, Johnson could become an attractive target for Stanley Cup contenders as the trade deadline approaches.
Scott Powers of the Athletic called him the most likely player to be traded out of Chicago in a recent article for The Athletic and as a pending UFA, he’s probably not wrong. However, with Johnson’s salary, the return would likely have been low. But, what if he gets prime minutes with Bedard and winds up scoring in bunches this season? That will only elevate the interest in him around the league, especially if the Blackhawks are open to retaining salary, which they likely would be.
Bedard Could Make Johnson a Player To Watch
The intriguing prospect of Johnson sharing the ice with Connor Bedard adds another layer of potential for both players. A strong early showing by Johnson could generate heightened interest from multiple teams. It will then be up to interested parties to determine how much of Johnson’s production is because of Bedard and how much isn’t.
Depending on the Blackhawks’ progress in the season, they might explore the option of selling high on Johnson, capitalizing on his enhanced performance and contributing to the team’s ongoing transformation in the Bedard era.
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