Well one thing is for sure, the Blackhawks are not going to stand pat and let a roster that got swept in the first round try and compete for another season. Stan Bowman started off his day by trading Niklas Hjalmarsson to Arizona for prospect Laurent Dauphin and Connor Murphy. After a quick smoke break Bowman pulled the trigger on sending Artemi Panarin and Tyler Motte to the Blue Jackets for Brandon Saad and Anton Forsberg. My first takeaway from these trades is there has to be more to come. There is no justification for trading Hjalmarsson that I can see, other than to increase their cap space by a fraction. Hjalmarsson was an integral part of the Blackhawks in his tenure here. In my opinion, he was the second best defenseman on the team other than Duncan Keith and arguably the best shot blocking D-man in the league. Connor Murphy is a guy the Hawks are high on. He makes $3.85 million through 2022, while Hammer is making $4.1 million through 2019. The Blackhawks have now lost 2 core members of their team with Hjalmarsson and Hossa, its tough for a team to lose 2 guys like that in the same year.
The decision to trade Panarin for Saad is actually a very good move in my eyes. While Panarin and Saad are very different players, they hold a very comparable value. Panarin’s stats were certainly inflated by playing with Patrick Kane, but he still has tremendous offensive skill. Kane doesn’t need another star on his line as bad as Toews does. The last two seasons have made it apparent that Toews needs a guy who can fly down the ice and make things happen. I don’t see a major drop-off for Kane’s line with the loss of Panarin, and there will be a major increase in production for the Toews line. With this trade also comes 2 more years of control. Panarin’s contract is over in 2 years and they would not be able to match what he will command on the open market, Saad is locked up for 4 more seasons. It also gives the Blackhawks a young backup goalie in Forsberg, which they were in need of. This is a long-term move just as much as a short term.
Thus far, the Hawks have locked up some guys for their long-term future, but there is undoubtedly a big move coming. Stay tuned.