Chicago Blackhawks: Tracking Gustav Forsling’s Journey To Windy City

The Chicago Blackhawks signed 19-year old acquired Gustav Forsling in January of 2015 from the Canucks. Now he figures to be a key part of the future at the defensive position for Chicago for year's to come. (Photo: USA TODAY)
The Chicago Blackhawks signed 19-year old acquired Gustav Forsling in January of 2015 from the Canucks. Now he figures to be a key part of the future at the defensive position for Chicago for year's to come. (Photo: USA TODAY) /

A lot of articles have surfaced recently regarding a trade that took place last year between the Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks

On January 29, 2015, Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman made a transaction by sending defensive prospect Adam Clendening to Vancouver in exchange for Swedish defensive prospect Gustav Forsling.

The focus in most of the articles is on Canucks GM Jim Benning because, since the trade, Forsling has made the Blackhawks’ lineup and Clendening has moved on from the Canucks. On paper, Benning traded an unproven 20-year-old fifth-round pick for a 23-year-old NHL-ready prospect.

This is a trade many GMs would make in a heartbeat, which is why we need to go back even further to understand what separates the good GMs from the great ones.

Rewind to 2010, right after the Blackhawks won their first Stanley Cup with the current core group of players. Bowman had just taken over as general manager, and there were several decisions to be made regarding the Blackhawks’ payroll. The Blackhawks had to part ways with many of their depth players, and one of them was Andrew Ladd.

“And now 6 years after the trade of Andrew Ladd, his value is still paying dividends.”

What happened to: Andrew Ladd

And Ladd was a grinder.  He led the third line with center Dave Bolland and wing Kris Versteeg, with the trio tasked with the most difficult defensive assignments on a nightly basis.

Ladd was always up on the forecheck and made defensemen pay when he found them out of position. But after the 2010 season, the Blackhawks could no longer afford his services.

On July 1, 2010, Ladd was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers for defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy and a second-round pick in 2011.

After Ladd’s time with the Blackhawks, he had a very strong start to his time with the Atlanta Thrashers. The Thrashers were a young group that needed veteran leadership so much, they made Ladd the captain of the team after just 19 games with the organization.

The Thrashers were moved to Winnipeg the following year and renamed the Jets, with whom Ladd remained captain until 2016.

In 2016, he was dealt back to Chicago in an effort to help the Hawks’ in another playoff run. Ladd became a free agent over the summer and signed a contract to play for the New York Islanders.

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  • What happened to: Ivan Vishnevskiy

    Vishnevskiy was a player the Blackhawks weren’t really expecting too much from since the Ladd trade was more about moving salary to another team.

    Vishnevskiy played 46 games with the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs. He scored 5 goals and added 10 assists.

    The following season, Vishnevskiy’s contract had expired and he signed a deal to play in the KHL. He has been a member of that league since.

    What happened to: the 2011 second-round pick

    With the 36th pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, the Chicago Blackhawks selected Boston University’s Adam Clendening.

    Clendening stayed at BU until his junior year, when he decided to go pro. From there, he joined the Rockford IceHogs and was one of the ’Hawks’ best defensive prospects from 2012-15.

    There was much questioning as to why Clendening never made the team out of camp, but the reason was mostly because there was no room for him on the roster.

    In 2015, Clendening got a showcase of four games with the Blackhawks, but apparently the Hawks’ didn’t see enough in his potential to keep him on the team.

    Bowman’s past planning has the Blackhawks growing now

    In the salary cap era, you need to get the most out of our assets when you can. In this specific case, Bowman made a move for the future in 2010. Just because his draft pick in Clendening didn’t pan out didn’t mean there wasn’t still value there.

    Using the foundation of economics, Bowman bought low with Forsling as an unproven draft pick and sold high on an NHL ready prospect that he knew didn’t fit on his team. And now, six years after the trade of Ladd, his value is still paying dividends.

    Next: Chicago Blackhawks’ Role Players Providing Positive Results Early

    There is no guarantee Forsling will be a successful Chicago Blackhawk, but as fans we should appreciate the ability of Bowman to turn nothing into something.