Our resident NHL consulting professional updates us on offseason trades and free agent moves regarding the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. Join us in reading this extremely insightful sequel article.
Busy Offseason so far for the Blackhawks
Shortly after the conclusion of the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals, I wrote an article (6/22/2015) on the champion Chicago Blackhawks. I addressed whether or not the Blackhawks had established a dynasty after winning their third Stanley Cup in six years. After a plethora of offseason roster moves by either trade or due to free agency, I’d like to hone in on their current status.
Free Agent Losses
The Blackhawks were unable to resign unrestricted free agent Johnny Oduya, and he opted to sign a two year 7.5 million dollar contract with the Dallas Stars on Wednesday (7/15). The soon to be 34 year old stalwart defensemen had been with Chicago since coming over in a trade from Winnipeg during the 2011-2012 NHL campaign. Oduya played in 71 playoff games for the Blackhawks during the past four seasons, recording 5 goals and 18 assists during that time. He was also a member of Team Sweden during the 2011 and 2015 Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament.
Antoine Vermette came over to Chicago at the 2015 trade deadline from Arizona. The 33 year old Vermette was an unrestricted free agent and elected to resign with the Coyotes. Although he was a disappointment for Chicago in 19 regular season games with no goals and just three assists. He chipped in with 4 goals and 3 assists during 20 playoff games, and scored a huge overtime winner in the Western Conference Finals against Anaheim.
The Hawks decided not to retain the services of 35 year old forward Brad Richards who was a UFA. Richards had 12 goals and 25 assists in 76 regular season games this past season. He also contributed 3 goals and 11 assists in 23 playoff games
Trade with Dallas
Chicago began the offseason by taking part in a trade with the Dallas Stars. The Blackhawks sent veteran forward Patrick Sharp and defensemen Stephen Johns to Dallas. In return they received 31-year old defensemen Trevor Daley and 29 year old forward Ryan Garbut.
Trevor Daley is coming off a career year in which he scored 16 goals and added 22 assists for the Stars. Daley was fourth in the NHL for Defensemen with 6 power play goals. He also averaged a lofty 22:13 of ice time per game. Garbut had a modest 8 goals and 9 assists in 67 games.
The most notable player in this trade was certainly the long time Blackhawk Patrick Sharp. Since coming over in a trade from Philadelphia during the 2005-2006 NHL campaign, Sharp had 215 goals and 255 assists in 627 games played for Chicago. He was also an outstanding playoff performer for the Hawks by scoring 42 goals and adding 38 assists in 117 postseason games. Defensemen Stephen Johns has yet to play in the NHL, and spent last season with Chicago’s AHL affiliate in Rockford.
Seven Player Deal with Columbus
Chicago sent forward Brandon Saad, defensemen Michael Palliota, and center Alex Broadhurst to Columbus. In return Chicago received forwards Artem Anisimov, Corey Tropp, Marko Dano, and former Hawk Jeremy Morin. Chicago also attained a 4th round draft pick in 2016 as well.
The name player in this trade was definitely the 22 year old Saad. During the last three seasons with Chicago, Saad had 52 goals and 74 assists in 208 games. He was coming off a career best 23 goals and 29 assists while playing in all 82 regular season games this past season. Saad was a solid playoff performer the last two years, tallying 14 goals and adding 13 assists in 42 games.
Chicago will certainly hope that Anisimov regains the form he displayed two seasons ago when he had 22 goals. The 27 year old Russian forward dropped off to just 8 goals last season. Corey Tropp is a big physical forward with no real scoring touch. Tropp played in 114 games the last two seasons with both Buffalo and Columbus, scoring just 2 goals in addition to 9 assists combined during that time. The 20 year old Dano showed a lot of promise in 35 games with Columbus last season, scoring 8 goals, 13 assists, and had a +12 plus/minus rating. Morin was dealt to Columbus by Chicago at the 2015 trade deadline, and returns to the Windy City just four months later. The 24 year old Morin had just 2 goals plus 4 assists last season in 43 games combined between Chicago and Columbus.
For the first time in the last six years, Chicago was unable to keep their core group of players intact. In my professional opinion, this will also be the first time during that highly successful period which saw them win three Stanley Cups, and advanced to five Western Conference Finals, they became weaker heading into the upcoming season. The addition of Trevor Daley from Dallas was certainly a nice acquisition. However, the losses of Patrick Sharp, Brandon Saad, Johnny Oduya, Brad Richards, and Antoine Vermette appear to far outweigh any additions that were made. Add in the recent retirement of defensemen Kimmo Timonen, and the defending champions will have their work cut out for them to maintain the dynasty that had been constructed over recent years.
At the time of my original article on 6/22 pertaining to whether the Blackhawks should be deemed a dynasty or not, the NHL betting odds at Bovada have made a slight movement from 5:1 on Chicago winning the 2016 Stanley Cup, to 6:1 at the time of this current writing. My advice remains the same, you can find a much better value for your NHL picks at this juncture than Chicago, and I feel even more strongly in that regard three weeks later.