Usually as the trade deadline approaches in the NHL, 28-year old defensemen with a history of success aren’t readily available. Ones that pack a physical punch and are signed to a reasonably low cap hit are usually even more rare, and can generate bidding wars that can get out of hand. Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brandon Manning checks all those boxes, but his struggles this season have made him unwanted on the market and by his current team. There have been reports for weeks that the Blackhawks were looking to move one or both of Manning and Jan Rutta, and Monday Mark Lazerus of The Athletic (subscription required) checked in with the former to see how he feels about the situation.
Manning is very clearly not demanding a trade out of Chicago, but the fact remains that he has been scratched repeatedly under new head coach Jeremy Colliton. In fact he hasn’t played at all since Dec. 12, and even then only saw 13:20 of ice time — a total far lower than the 18 minutes he averaged over the last two seasons in Philadelphia. Those two seasons were where Manning had made his mark as a physical defenseman for the Flyers who could move the puck reasonably well. Those two seasons are also what earned him a two-year contract with the Blackhawks that carries a $2.25M cap hit, but they aren’t enough to generate much interest from around the league. Lazerus writes that Chicago “surely would have to retain up to half of Manning’s salary in order to move him.”
It’s that retained salary that might make a Manning trade even more difficult for the Blackhawks to pull off, and why they might decide to just bury him instead.