Editorials

Chicago Blackhawks: In Erik Gustafsson We Trust?

By Tim Lively
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Oct 30, 2015; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Erik Gustafsson (52) against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild defeated the Blackhawks 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 30, 2015; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Erik Gustafsson (52) against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild defeated the Blackhawks 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports /

Once again GM Stan Bowman made some paramount transactions  at the trade deadline to give our beloved Chicago Blackhawks the best possible chance to hoist the Stanley Cup. We all knew that Blackhawks needed to fill holes at left wing and the blue line this year at the trade deadline; we also knew given this season’s trade market and the salary cap, the ‘Hawks likely were not going to be able to address both these needs.

Thus, given the trade deadline landscape, Blackhawks’ GM Stan Bowman placed his chips on Andrew Ladd filling the left wing void, and doubled down on the offense with the additions of Tomas Fleischmann and Dale Weise.

It should really come as no surprise that Bowman opted to address the Blackhawks’ offensive needs as opposed to their defensive ones. By their nature, defensemen take longer to develop (usually giving them a higher price tag – just ask the Dallas Stars) and are harder to assimilate to a new team. Couple that with this Bowman’s less-than-stellar record of acquiring impactful defensemen in his tenure (Johnny Oduya being perhaps the only exception).

Additionally, interestingly enough Coach Joel Quenneville made it known as the trade rumors were flying that he felt the ‘Hawks were fine on defense and needed some shoring up at left wing. These remarks from Q were somewhat odd given his known lack of patience with green players learning the NHL ropes, and this season, the Blackhawks’ blue line is pretty darn green.

So now after the dust has settled, the Blackhawks are left with a largely unaltered defensive corps, save for Christian Ehrhoff (more on him later). Thus, given defense wins championships, it could be stated without hyperbole that the Blackhawks are now pinning their hopes for being repeat Stanley Cup Champions on the likes of novice defensemen Trevor van Riemsdyk and Erik Gustafsson.

The latter is the real point of interest here. While TVR is certainly a fledgling Blackhawk by most measures, he’s still got more NHL experience under his belt and currently benefits from being paired with one of the three ‘Hawks’ defensemen that each have three Stanley Cup wins to their credit, which will arguably keep his game at an elevated level.

Next: Comparing The Rest Of The D

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