Blackhawks Offseason Says Goodbye To Familiar Faces

When you win 3 Stanley Cups over the course of 6 seasons eventually you’re going to be faced with some pretty extensive (and expensive) roster moves. Of course the Blackhawks wouldn’t trade their Cup wins for anything but each time GM Stan Bowman is faced with replenishing the roster via trades and free agency signings while staying under the salary cap. The core of Chicago’s championship winning team isn’t going anywhere for awhile (Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith, and Corey Crawford) but they’re going to be surrounded by a number of new faces in their quest for a repeat.

Patrick Sharp Traded to Dallas

Trade rumors had been surrounding Sharp for the past 2 years but it was still somewhat of a shock when Bowman actually pulled the trigger. The 10-year Hawk and alternate captain was sent to Dallas along with defensive prospect Stephen Johns for Trevor Daley and Ryan Garbutt. Sharp’s skills had been declining and actually the biggest loss of the trade for Chicago may have been Johns, their top defensive prospect. Either way the Hawks saved about $2.5 million on the deal, a crucial amount for a team so close to salary cap hell.

Brandon Saad Traded to Columbus

Black Tuesday rang through the Windy City on June 30th as budding superstar wing Brandon Saad was traded to Columbus. Saad had an incredible Stanley Cup playoffs and at just 22-years old seemingly had a bright future ahead playing alongside Hossa and Toews. Unfortunately (for Chicago) Saad’s breakout year was timed right with restricted free agency and Bowman had to make a choice – resign the player and lose 4-5 others or trade him and get something instead of nothing. While it wasn’t the popular choice Bowman made the smart business move sending Saad to Columbus for Artem Anisimov (established 2nd line center), Marko Dano (20-year old RW with potential), Corey Tropp and Jeremy Morin. While Saad is undoubtedly remorseful of leaving such a successful NHL franchise 6-years and $36 million has a tendency to ease the pain.

The Loss of Johnny Oduya

One thing that the acquisition of Trevor Daley in the Patrick Sharp trade did was effectively put Johnny Oduya out of a job. The unrestricted free agent was waiting for the Blackhawks salary cap situation to play itself out in an effort to stay with the team he won 2 Stanley Cups with but ultimately the numbers didn’t work. Oduya had been a pivotal part of the Chicago defense but at 33 years old and at $3.75 million a year the player was simply to old and too expensive.

Graphic via theoilersrig
Free Agent Losses of Brad Richards and Antoine Vermette

The free agent duo and the hockey team both got something from each other last season. Chicago got offensive skills and veteran leadership from the players while Richards and Vermette got a Stanley Cup title. Like any good business proposition both sides cut ties after the deal was done with Richards going to Detroit and Vermette to Arizona as unrestricted free agents.

Re-signing Andrew Desjardins

Chicago’s offseason hasn’t purely been about loss as evidenced by the re-signing of Andrew Desjardins. The physical and versatile forward had offers from other teams but chose to stay with the Hawks for less money at 2-years and $800,000 annually.

Graphic via dailyherald

While 3 Stanley Cup championships in 6 years may cost players, it does buy trust. This is what Chicago fans have learned to do with GM Stan Bowman who faced a similar rebuilding of the team after the 2010 title. Was the loss of Saad brutal? Yes, but how much of his success was due to playing alongside Toews and Hossa and was his re-signing worth losing Andrew Shaw, Marcus Kruger and others? Plus how much better will Artem Ansimov perform in a Blackhawks uniform when most of the opposing defenses attention will be paid to Patrick Kane? (Chicago thinks a lot after instantly inking a 5-year extension.) Marko Dano is a 20-year-old potential superstar that joins current 20-year-old Blackhawk Teuvo Teravainen. How well will these 2 grow and develop under the guidance of coach Joel Quenneville and the leadership of Jonathan Toews?

Undoubtedly there are questions facing the Blackhawks in the upcoming 2015/16 season but the situation isn’t as dire as many are proclaiming. In Stan We Trust.

Graphic via chicitysports


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