On Tuesday's episode of the Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Hawks GM Stan Bowman revealed that the team is indeed in the midst of a rebuild, focusing on developing young talent to yield a brighter future for the organization, but that the core four aren't going anywhere.
It's unlikely that Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook would be dealt now or anytime in the near future for a variety of reasons.
Toews, Kane and Keith are locked up through the 2022-23 season with full no-movement clauses. The two cornerstone forwards carry a $10.5 million cap hit apiece and $5.5 for the two-time Norris Trophy winner.
Seabrook, likely the Hawks' seventh defenseman next season with the looming youth movement on D, carries a $6.9 million cap hit through 2023-24. His current contract includes a no movement clause through 2021-22, which becomes a modified no trade clause for the 2022-23 season.
On Oct. 10, Toews told The Athletic he was surprised by the direction the team was headed in following the club not re-signing goalie Corey Crawford and trading Brandon Saad. On Blackhawks Talk, Bowman said he had a video conference call with the four three-time Stanley Cup champs shortly after Toews' remarks.
"We had a very good discussion, in-depth discussion about where we're going," Bowman revealed on the podcast. "I think part of this communication here is to clear up some miscommunications or perceptions. It's really not a rebuild in a tense of 'we're tearing this down and we're just getting rid of all the players.' Sometimes you do have to make difficult decisions to trade away popular players and it's hard for our veterans who've been together."
The Hawks GM later touched on the possibility of members of the core asking to be traded out of Chicago if frustration picks up steam with how things are transpiring.
"That's a tough hypothetical because that wasn't the feeling I got from them (on the call). So I guess we would tackle that at the time," Bowman said. "I don't really want to speculate what that would look like or who it is or when it happens. I'm not sure there's an answer to that. If that ever came up then we would deal with that in the moment."
In his interview with The Athletic, Toews made it clear that the recent moves made by Bowman haven't swayed his desire to remain a Hawk. "Chicago’s my home, and I want to win here again," the captain said.
Outside of Toews wanting to stay with the Blackhawks — and his no movement clause — there are probably not many teams willing to pick up his high cap hit. With that said, Toews has consistently contributed as the Hawks' top center in recent seasons. He had 60 points in last year's shortened season, winning 57.3% of his draws. In 2018-19, he had the best year of his career, recording 81 points (35 goals, 46 assists).
As the younger, lesser-known players develop, members of the core remaining would help continue to sell tickets to games at the UC, depending on when fans are allowed back. The greatest showman of the core four, to no one's surprise, is Kane. Showtime racked up 84 points in 70 games during the 2019-20 season and had a career-best 110 in 2018-19's full year.
Keith's cap hit isn't terrible and he's still a dependable top-four defenseman in the NHL. Who better to mentor the Hawks' up and coming defensemen than one of the league's most decorated blueliners? Like the rest of the core, it's unlikely he'd waive his no movement clause as well.
Seabrook has been rehabbing from three surgeries, which kept him out of the postseason bubble. It's hard to imagine him waiving his no movement clause or a team willing to take on his cap hit.