Elliotte Friedman noted on the most recent episode of the 32 Thoughts podcast that the Chicago Blackhawks are in no rush to trade defenseman Jake McCabe because they like him as a player and a person and want to keep him on the roster. At the same time, they understand at this point of his career and as the Blackhawks struggle to string wins together, McCabe probably wants to be on a team that has a shot and they know some of those teams will call about his availability. The expectation is that he could be moved ahead of this year’s NHL Trade Deadline.
Friedman also expects that the Edmonton Oilers are potentially going to be one of those teams that calls.
McCabe makes a lot of sense from an Oilers’ perspective. He averages just under 19 minutes per night as a defenseman who can both play sound defense and produce a little. He’s got one goal and eight assists in 33 games, but more than that, he’s a plus +1 on a team that gets caved in defensively on any given night. In fact, he’s the only active plus player on the Blackhawks roster.
He’s a left-shot blueliner, which is exactly what the Oilers need to limit Darnell Nurse’s heavy minutes and he’s got plenty of experience with some size and grit is an element of his game. This season he’s hit opponents at a rate of 7.14 hits per hour at 5×5, and he would rank first on the Oilers in 5×5 shot blocks per hour. These are all things the Oilers need more of.
What makes McCabe a better fit than someone like Joel Edmundson of the Montreal Canadiens or Vladislav Gavrikov of the Columbus Blue Jackets is his contract. He’s got two more seasons remaining at $4 million per season after this one and the Blackhawks are dripping with salary cap space. Edmonton could easily get the Blackhawks to retain a little salary and get him for under what they would be paying for either Edmundson ($3.5 million) or an extended Gavrikov (who could come in around $5 million on his next deal.)
Ryan Rishaug suggests this isn’t the first time the Oilers will have sniffed around Jake McCabe talks. He says there’s been interest there for some time from the Oilers and Jason Strudwick says “in theory he’s the right guy. If you’re going to send out a first-round pick, he’s a guy you’ll have for a little while.” He adds that McCabe defends well and blocks shots.
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