WARR’s hockey writer Sidney Brown offers his takes from the front lines of Blackhawks fandom
As the Stanley Cup continues to travel along with the roster that earned it this past June, it is spending more and more days with players who no longer have an intent to bring it back home to Chicago after playing with it.
Take for instance, one Patrick Sharp, who got to hang with Stan in New England on Sunday and warm hearts with pics featuring his kids. What doesn’t warm Chicago Blackhawks fans hearts though is that after a decade of allegiance to the Men in Red, Sharp is now rocking some shade of puke green offered by Dallas due to the expected moves the champs had to make this offseason in order to stay compliant with the NHL’s salary cap.
With tax avoidance on general manager Stan Bowman’s mind, the Hawks’ front office went to work in the last couple months much like the now obsolete roster went at it with a championship on the line.
Sharp’s move is the defining move of this latest post-championship restructuring, but the first move came as a surprise to many fans when Brandon Saad was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Artem Anisimov and Marco Dano.
After contract talks broke down between the restricted free agent (Saad) and the Hawks, Saad received his pay raise with his new team while Chicago added quality bodies for depth purposes which gives them a second line center and depth on the bottom two lines.
Next, the team let backup goalie Antti Raanta walk via free agency, as he signed the New York Rangers. This move made sense given the performance of local hero Scott Darling during the past season, including his helping save the team in the opening round series against the Nashville Predators. Darling is a solid backup to starter Corey Crawford going forward in the future.
The previous moves set the table for the expected highlight (or lowlight) of the offseason — the trade of Patrick Sharp to the Dallas Stars in exchange for Trevor Daley and Ryan Garbutt. This trade made sense on many levels, it let an older player (Sharp, 33) leave before his skills declined while allowing Chicago to receive younger players in return who can help contribute right away.
Daley is an offensively-inclined defenseman who can improve the blue line’s impact while Garbutt can be plugged in on either the third or fourth lines.
With the Daley move, it meant time was coming up on free agents and now former Hawks mainstays Johnny Oduya — who signed with Dallas — and Michael Rozsival.
As the Hawks currently stand, they’re around the salary cap and there’s still some work that needs to be done, particularly in trading Bryan Bickell and resigning restricted free agent Marcus Kruger, though Bickell isn’t having any trade talk that involves his name.
While some fans may be upset with the more impactful moves that have happened, expected or not, these moves in general make sense in terms of filling the Hawks’ roster with younger players with experience and adding depth to maintain success while staving off any need to rebuild.
The Hawks may take a step back in terms of quality veteran play on the roster but this franchise will still be competitive and in the hunt for the Stanley Cup, it just may take some time for the new players to blend in with the current core of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith, etc.
As management said during the championship rally in June, expect this franchise to go for it every year and the 2015-16 Chicago Blackhawks will be no different in regards to this franchise’s overall ambitions. There’s only one team in the NHL that right now knows it can win a Stanley Cup and that team is still in Chicago.
Not a bad bar to set your goals against.
2015 Offseason Transactions
Agreed to terms with D David Rundblad on a two-year extension, through the 2016-17 season.
Agreed to terms with G Michael Leighton on a one-year contract extension. Acquired Fs Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Jeremy Morin and Corey Tropp and a 2016 fourth-round draft pick from Columbus for Fs Alex Broadhurst and Brandon Saad and D Michael Paliotta.
Agreed to terms with F Artem Anisimov on a five-year contract extension through the 2020-21 season and C Viktor Tikhonov on a one-year contract.
Agreed to terms with D Cameron Schilling on a two-year contract and D Michael Liambas on a one-year contract.
Agreed to terms with F Andrew Desjardins on a two-year contract.
Traded G Anders Nilsson to Edmonton for F Liam Coughlin.
Agreed to terms with D Trevor van Riemsdyk on a two-year extensions through the 2017-18 season.
Agreed to terms with F Dennis Rasmussen on a one-year contract.
Acquired D Trevor Daley and F Ryan Garbutt from the Dallas Stars for F Patrick Sharp and D Stephen Johns.
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