Review: Chicago's Latest Acquisitions
Just 2 days after the NHL expansion draft and the day of the NHL Entry draft, teams are starting to make some serious roster changes including one of the best dynasties of this past decade - in the Chicago Blackhawks. Chicago’s first trade of the day resulted in receiving 24 year old defenceman Connor Murphy and prospect Laurent Dauphin in exchange for Niklas Hjalmarsson. Hjalmarsson has been in many different trade conversations since the end of the Stanley Cup playoffs and he is now heading to the desert in Arizona where he will provide some leadership and playoff experience to a young and hungry team. He should be sliding in as the number 3 defenceman or paired with Oliver Ekman-Larsson on the top line.
Connor Murphy is an interesting product for Chicago considering they have him locked up until the 2021-22 season at an average cap hit of $4.6 million per year. This is compared to Hjalrmarsson’s contract who was making $600k less than Murphy but will need a new and improved contract after next season. Murphy is only 24 and started to play in a larger role with Arizona towards the end of the season by consistently playing over 20 minutes/game in the latter half of the season. He is 6”4, 215 lbs and is not afraid to throw around the body with over 135, 175, 201 hits during the last 3 seasons, Chicago is looking to beef up their defensive core in order to keep up in the playoffs to come for their franchise. Laurent Dauphin will need more time to develop before becoming a relevant name on the Chicago Blackhawks but has potential to be a third liner in the NHL.
Now let’s talk about the bigger deal of the day, Brandon Saad, Anton Forsberg in exchange for Artemi Panarin and Tyler Motte with picks included in the trade as well. It is quite evident that Chicago is loading up for the long term with Saad’s contract lasting until the 2020-2021 season while Panarin’s is set to end after next season with Saad’s contract being worth on average 500k more than Panarin’s. It should still come as quite as a surprise given the success Panarin had during his career playing alongside Patrick Kane but with the potential loss of Marian Hossa this could be more of a play of desperation at the winger position for the Blackhawks. Saad is familiar with the system while he won two Stanley cups with the team in the 2013 and 2015 seasons while being a major contributor to both of those winning teams. Panarin will join a highly touted Blue Jackets team that will now have some more fire power in the offensive zone with Panarin’s incredible play making abilities, he should be on the first line right out of the gate in Columbus. Tyler Motte did play in 33 games this past season, he is a defensive center who is only 22 years old with some valuable upside to a grinding, hard-working team like the Blue Jackets. Anton Forsberg is a goaltending prospect who has only played in less than 10 NHL games and will continue to develop in the AHL.
After these trades, I think it is safe to say the dynasty that is the Chicago Blackhawks is not close to being finished and we could see Toews and Kane host Lord Stanley in the next coming years.