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Chicago Blackhawks: Daley’s And Garbutt’s Roles Uncertain

By Matt Barbato
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The Chicago Blackhawks continued another busy offseason by trading Patrick Sharp and prospect Stephen Johns to the Dallas Stars in exchange for defenseman Trevor Daley and forward Ryan Garbutt on Friday night.

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It’s pretty evident what the Blackhawks lost in the trade. Chicago will be forced to move on without one of the cornerstones of the franchise’s climb from the bottom of the league over the past 10 seasons in Sharp and will also have one less solution to top-heavy defensive corps without Johns.

But what exactly did the Blackhawks get in return for Sharp and Johns? It’s something that will not be solidified until the offseason concludes and Daley and Garbutt join the team in training camp, but there’s still a possibility both players can be impactful role players.

Daley is the more important return from this trade. He is 31 and coming off a career-high 16 goals and 22 assists last season for the Stars. He’s a left-handed shot, something the Blackhawks desperately need assuming they don’t re-sign Johnny Oduya, and he scored a career-high six powerplay goals last season. His average ice time of 22:52 ranked second on the Stars among defensemen last season.

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  • Daley played mainly on the second pairing and wasn’t too reliable on the back end, as he posted a minus-13 rating last season. The analytics are not on Daley’s side either. According to War on Ice, Daley’s 45.54 Corsi-for percentage in the 2014-15 season ranked second-worst among all Stars and was only ahead of the percentage of David Schlemko, who played merely five games in Dallas before being moved. Daley was also on the ice for 331 high-danger scoring chances from opponents, which was the second most on the team. The Stars had 303 high-danger scoring opportunities of their own when Daley was on the ice.

    The Blackhawks may have downgraded with Daley likely replacing Oduya as the fourth defenseman, though his possession deficiencies may be mitigated by playing alongside Niklas Hjalmarsson or Duncan Keith. The Blackhawks will need Daley to contribute offensively to outweigh his defensive gaffes. Dallas was one of the worst defensive teams in the league a year ago, so Daley’s numbers should improve at least slightly in Chicago.

    Mar 19, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Stars left wing Ryan Garbutt (16) skates against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the game at the American Airlines Center. The Stars defeated the Penguins 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    Garbutt is a depth forward who logged an average of 13 minutes of ice time per game last season. He will likely play an agitator role and as a grinder who rarely exhibits offensive flash. Garbutt scored eight goals and tallied 17 assists last season with a minus-9 rating. His 55 penalty minutes were the fourth-most among all Stars.

    The Blackhawks will likely use Garbutt as a third or fourth-line winger. He brings the occasional burst of offensive potency that merits him a spot on the third line. His gritty style works for the fourth line, but his poor possession numbers could give him trouble against opposing top lines. The Blackhawks didn’t have much offensive skill on their fourth line last season, but it was the unit’s ability to dictate possession and shut down some of the best lines in the league that made it extremely valuable.

    Similar to Daley, the analytics are not friendly to Garbutt. His 49.74 Corsi-for percentage was the second worst among Dallas forwards and his minus-8 on-ice Corsi differential was tied for second to last. Garbutt isn’t a great possession player, but he did generate scoring chances occasionally. According to War on Ice, Garbutt posted a plus-20 scoring-chances differential, meaning he was on the ice for 20 more scoring opportunities for his own team than against it.

    Garbutt was also a positive player in high-danger scoring chances. Dallas had 223 perilous opportunities when he was on the ice, compared to just 207 chances for opponents.

    Both Daley’s and Garbutt’s roles in Chicago are currently unknown, and they could depend on how the rest of the offseason shakes out for the Blackhawks. If both of them can become better possession players while generating their share of offensive chances, it could make the trade look a bit better for Chicago.

    Next: Analyzing Patrick Sharp-Stephen Johns Trade

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