The Chicago Blackhawks shocked the NHL by trading Bryan Bickell and Teuvo Teravainen to the Carolina Panthers for a second-round pick in 2016 and a third-round pick in 2017. Everyone in the NHL knows the Blackhawks were up against another salary-cap crunch and were desperate to move Bickell’s contract.
It sounded like it almost happened before last season, but a proposed deal involving Edmonton’s Nikita Nikitin fell through. Bickell wound up spending a lot of the 2015-16 campaign with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs and was largely forgotten about — minus the cap hit that was stifling General Manager Stan Bowman.
You could argue Bickell’s contract has now resulted in two ugly trades for the Blackhawks, although there are other big contracts on the books (those of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Brent Seabrook, among others). The deal that sent Patrick Sharp to Dallas feels very similar to this, with defenseman Stephen Johns also going.
Sharp was more talented than Bickell, to be sure, but you get a similar feeling about Teuvo’s departure as you might’ve about that of Johns. It’s young talent that didn’t get time to develop forced away because of the salary cap.
The Blackhawks will not be paying Bickell the final year of his $4 million contract, however, which should be viewed as a positive. They also don’t have to worry about re-signing Teuvo next season or losing him for nothing instead — or losing him in the expansion draft, whenever that might happen. Still, this draft feels like another gut punch considering a young, promising piece was involved.
This also likely means Andrew Shaw will remain in the Chicago Blackhawks fold, and it also means the Blackhawks may be in search of another defenseman in the offseason. The latter of those moves is very important, and it’s also important the Blackhawks don’t get caught paying Shaw too much with their newly-found cap space. They still don’t have that much of it, and praying Michal Kempny is the answer at defense is a rough proposition.
For those upset about the trade, we have to remember this is the cost of doing business in today’s NHL. The current salary cap was set up to make sure no one team could dominate the league for years, to create some parity (although the Stanley Cup has only been won by four clubs in the last nine seasons). Young talent will go when your veteran guys have huge deals, or when you make a mistake like Bowman did with Bickell.
Brandon Saad was gone last season. Multiple defensemen have been shipped out in the name of improving the team. Once Marcus Kruger was re-signed last season, Phillip Danault‘s death sentence was essentially written in stone. And now Teuvo is gone, because the Blackhawks couldn’t move Bickell without a legitimate trade buddy, per say. The cost of doing business can be ugly. It should be interesting to see what Bowman makes of this.