About 24 hours before the NHL’s trade deadline, the Blackhawks are still holding out hope that they can leverage their cap space and their veterans on expiring contracts into some valuable assets. But according to a team source, Stan Bowman and his staff are becoming increasingly resigned to getting less than what they originally had hoped for Mattias Janmark and Carl Soderberg. 

As the source put it Sunday afternoon, “If all Detroit got for (defenseman Jon) Merrill is a fifth, that’s not promising for us.”

That said, Washington managed to get a third-rounder out of New Jersey for defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler on Sunday, so the market is still in flux, particularly for forwards. Janmark’s recent slump — he has no goals and one assist in his last 10 games — couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Blackhawks, who were hoping to get something like a second-rounder for the veteran winger when he was producing. Soderberg is a proven two-way player and the kind of bottom-six veteran teams crave at the deadline, but he was a healthy scratch before picking up a goal on Saturday, so he’s unlikely to fetch more than a fourth- or fifth-rounder. 

— The biggest question is what the Blackhawks can do with their cap space, the hottest commodity in the NHL these days. Florida gave up Henrik Borgström and Riley Stillman to get out from under Brett Connolly’s modest cap hit, and Bowman’s still looking to weaponize his cap space further. 

Bowman has been trying to get creative to find a deal much like the three-way swap pulled off by Tampa Bay, Columbus and Detroit on Saturday. In that deal, the Lightning were able to get stout defenseman David Savard at just a fraction of his cap hit because Columbus retained half Savard’s salary in sending him to Detroit, and then Detroit retained half of the remaining salary in sending him to Tampa Bay. Essentially, the Red Wings bought a fourth-round pick by taking on a quarter of Savard’s salary and trading away journeyman minor leaguer Brian Lashoff. 

The Blackhawks are currently without a third-round pick in the 2021 draft from the Andrew Shaw trade, so they’d love to pick one up, either with Janmark or through creative cap-space usage.