Blackhawks shake things up on Draft Day

Photo Credit: Mark J. Terrill/AP

By Scott Rosenhek

Normally, I cover news about the Canucks. However, Stan Bowman and the Chicago Blackhawks have caught the rest of the league’s attention this morning. The Blackhawks General Manager has made a pair of huge moves, altering the look of his roster.

His first trade involved sending defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to the Arizona Coyotes for 24-year-old defender Connor Murphy and forward prospect Laurent Dauphin. The Blackhawks save a little bit of salary, unloading Hjalmarsson’s $4.1 million deal, but Murphy makes $3.85 million. Murphy is locked down in this cost controlled deal until 2022, so this will give the Blackhawks more cap flexibility down the road.

Hjalmarsson is 30 years old, so I guess it is fair to say the team wants to get younger. However, it is strange to make this type of trade now since there are two years left on his deal and Hjalmarsson was a key stabilizing factor in all three Stanley Cup wins in 2010, 2013 and 2015.

Before anyone had a chance to analyze the trade, a second blockbuster had occurred. This time, Stan Bowman sent Artemi Panarin, Tyler Motte and a 2017 6th round pick for Brandon Saad, goaltender Anton Forsberg and a 2018 5th round pick.

Panarin was key in elevating Patrick Kane’s game back to an elite level, putting up 77 points in 2015-16 and 74 points last year. Saad had 53 points last year, but his teammates are not nearly as good as Patrick Kane.

The trade is interesting as the Blackhawks had once traded Brandon Saad to the Blue Jackets in 2015 for a return built around Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Corey Tropp, Jeremy Morin and a pick. It’s funny how things go full circle in the National Hockey League, whether it is coaches, managers or players.

The Blackhawks have kicked off this day with a bang and there is much more to come. These late trades leading up to the draft make things more exciting. Who knows what comes next?

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