In what may have been the craziest half hour in franchise history, the Blackhawks completed two blockbuster trades.
The first one sent veteran defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to the Arizona Coyotes for Connor Murphy and Laurent Dauphin.
The second one, the real doozy, sent star forward Artemi Panarin to the Columbus Blue Jackets in return for former Hawk sensation Brandon Saad. Tyler Motte, Anton Forsberg, and a swap of late round picks was also involved.
So… while we all settle back to earth after a roller coaster we were expecting to ride, but weren’t really fully ready for, let’s break these down and figure out why this was a great day for the Hawks.
I love the Saad/Panarin trade, I was initially skeptical on the Hammer trade, but have come around on the idea behind it.
Reports indicate that the Hawks have been kicking the tires on Murphy for a while, and that Stan liked him a lot. The move here is to obviously get younger and cheaper on defense. Murphy does just that, and the idea is that his play will perk up by now being on a better hockey team.
Losing Hammer sucks. He’s been a steady presence for the Hawks for ten years. I’ll have a memorial post for him coming in the next few days, but for now this is just business. His contributions to the Hawks, from defense to blocking shots, cannot be overstated. But his potential fall-off after age 30 is steep. The Hawks had to get what they could, and Stan got his guy in Murphy would could be a Hammer 2.0 if all goes well. They maxed out Hammer over the last 10 years and made the decision to move on.
The Hammer deal was shocking enough, but the Panarin trade seemingly sent everyone into a drug induced frenzy. Saad, the guy beloved by fans who the Hawks were forced to trade away two years ago, is now back with the team. We talked about no more retread signings, but I think we can make one exception here.
We also talked about how, despite his flashy numbers and scoring, Panarin was a replaceable piece, and the Hawks’ biggest trade asset this summer. Saad and Panarin have identical cap hits, but Saad is signed for four years longer and is a year younger. Stan was looking long term here.
Saad is a better two-way player than Panarin, and that’s something that fits the Hawks future plans better than Panarin. Getting Saad back will help fill Hossa’s void. Panarin was fantastic, but that success was mostly because of 88’s passing and set-ups.
Reports also indicated that Toews and Kane went to the Hawks’ brass to relay how much they missed Saad. Well, the front office obviously listened. We’ll see how Saad’s presence helps Toews on the top line, and who the Hawks bring in to fill Panarin’s shoes next to Kane (DeBrincat!).
The Hawks put up flashy regular season numbers with Panarin, but won two Cups in three years with Saad. It essentially boils down to that. This was a great day for the Chicago Blackhawks.
And they probably aren’t done making moves either…