Most NHL fans knew the Chicago Blackhawks planned to trade Patrick Sharp. After sending him to the Dallas Stars yesterday evening GM Stan Bowman could have a better team than last years Stanley Cup champions.
Sharp was thought on his way to the Washington Capitals, New York Islanders and Florida Panthers at different times. As the rumor mill usually works the team you’re not hearing much about makes the trade. And it worked out brilliantly for the Chicago Blackhawks.
Sure they part with Sharp but he was averaging nearly two minutes less in ice time this season than he has during most of his Chicago Blackhawks career. That helps explain a dip in his production. With a bump in playing time and his excellent possession numbers, Dallas is getting a likely top-line winger to play with Tyler Seguin.
What Bowman got back from Dallas makes the Chicago Blackhawks a better overall team. Ryan Garbutt gives the Hawks some punch outside of the top two lines, putting up 25 points last season with Dallas. The big return back to Chicago is on the blue line.
Trevor Daley was the best offensive weapon on defense for Dallas last year and a big contributor on the 12th-best power play last year. Daley scored twelve of his thirty-eight points last year on the power play, including six goals, which will improve last years 20th ranked team with the extra man.
If he did that with Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn imagine what those numbers will do with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Or with Duncan Keith as a pair on the same power play? It’s more likely Keith and Daley play on separate units but if the Chicago Blackhawks REALLY need a goal on a late power play, putting them together makes a scary pair.
When looking at the Chicago Blackhawks now you must look back at the Brandon Saad trade also. It’s arguable whether they are better at the top but there is no question the Blackhawks are a deeper team now. Artem Anisimov only adds to an embarrassment of talent in Chicago at center including Teuvo Teravainen, Andrew Shaw and Marko Dano, a highly regarded prospect coming over in the Saad deal. Oh yeah, Jonathan Toews is pretty good too, right?
The scariest thing about the Blackhawks great offseason is they aren’t done. They can’t be. Look at their salary cap situation. With only five defensemen under contract and cap room equal to the change you find in your sofa cushions, Bowman has more dealing left to do. I can’t help but wonder if the next trade is to make space to pay Brent Seabrook or to replace him.
Seabrook is a top-pair defenseman in the last year of his contract, paying him $5.8 million. At 30 years old there are plenty of prime years left but will they be at a cost the Chicago Blackhawks can handle? Bowman has to move a significant contract to get another defenseman signed and leave room any trade deadline improvements.
Given what Bowman has done this offseason and their dynasty of recent success, I’m betting on the Chicago Blackhawks continued improvement. The last back-to-back Stanley Cup champions were the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998. At the rate Bowman is going this offseason you’d be foolish to bet against the Chicago Blackhawks challenging that.
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