Editorials

Chicago Blackhawks’ Success Stories Cashing In Across NHL

By Aaron Goldschmidt
Mar 11, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw (65) waits for play to begin against the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center. The Stars defeat the Blackhawks 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 11, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw (65) waits for play to begin against the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center. The Stars defeat the Blackhawks 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /
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Committing to the Indian, for some players, has been rewarding in more ways than one

Since the 2010 Stanley Cup win, there has been a revolving door of hockey players in and out of the Chicago Blackhawks’ lineup.  The reason is, unlike any of the other major sport, the NHL has a “hard” salary cap.  This means that each team is only allowed to spend a certain amount of money per year on player contracts.

The Blackhawks use roughly 75 percent of their allotted money on their best players and are forced to find a combination of young players and veterans each year to fill out the roster.  But because the Blackhawks have dedicated so much money to their stars, it’s hard to hold on to skilled young players and fan favorites.

Below is a list of players who have moved on from the Blackhawks since 2010.  Whether they were a salary cap “casualty” or priced themselves out of Chicago with their skill, there’s no doubt the ’Hawks would have liked to keep all these names in Chicago.

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Regardless, all of these players were given significant raises by NHL teams for their talent and experience.

Where are they now?

Dave Bolland – Phoenix Coyotes (Signed a 5-year, $27.5M contract with Florida in 2014)

Of all the names on here, Dave Bolland‘s may be the most overrated.  Bolland was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs after the 2013 Stanley Cup.  He was then signed by former Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon in 2014 but couldn’t seem to get on the ice with Florida.

He was plagued with several injuries, including concussion symptoms that may be career ending.  This past August, Bolland was dealt to the Arizona Coyotes as part of a salary dump by Florida.

Troy Brouwer – Calgary Flames (Signed a 4-year, $18M contract with Calgary)

Coming up in the Blackhawks system, Brouwer established himself as a hard-checking third-line winger.  But after the 2010 Stanley Cup, he was sent packing to Washington to play for the Capitals.

Brouwer kept his physical reputation and earned a top line spot playing with Alex Ovechkin.  In the 2013-14 season, Brouwer scored a career-high 25 goals on the top line.  Brouwer excelled in last year’s playoffs with the Blues, who knocked out the Blackhawks in the first round.

Dustin Byfuglien – Winnipeg Jets (Signed a 5-year, $38M contract with Winnipeg)

Fan favorite, skilled player, bruiser and all of the above.  Although used more as a forward in Chicago, Dustin Byfuglien was one of the more painful players to see walk out of the Madhouse on Madison.

Not many NHL players can stand in at 6-foot-5, 265 pounds and be as effective as Byfuglien.  After the ’Hawks traded him to the Atlanta Thrashers in 2010, Byfuglien moved back to his natural position as a defenseman.

If you search his name followed by the word “hits” on YouTube, you will understand why he has become one of the most feared defensemen in the league.  Guys, keep your head up when he’s on the ice.

Michael Frolik – Calgary Flames (Signed a 5-year, $21.5M contract with Calgary)

Somewhat of an unsung hero, Michael Frolik was a favorite of coach Joel Quenneville for his penalty-killing ability and grit.  Frolik was acquired by the Blackhawks in 2011 after GM Stan Bowman traded failed prospect Jack Skille to Florida.

Frolik earned respect on the Blackhawks with his dump-and-chase style and relentless board play.  Frolik understood his role was to generate offensive zone chances for the top lines and play safe, responsible hockey inside his own zone.

Nick Leddy – New York Islanders (Signed a 7-year, $38.5M contract with the Islanders)

Nick Leddy didn’t work out in Chicago probably for the same reason Trevor Daley didn’t work out.  Both players are very fast skaters and have a high offensive skill set.  Unfortunately that isn’t what Quenneville looks for in his defensemen.

The Blackhawks’ style is to play smart defensively and push the puck up to the forwards as quickly as possible.  But besides the unfortunate personnel fit, Leddy went from being a seventh defenseman on the ’Hawks to the top pairing on the Islanders.

Brandon Saad – Columbus Blue Jackets (Signed a 6-year, $36M contract with Columbus)

Sigh … oh, what could have been.  If there is anybody who got the absolute most out of playing with the ’Hawks, it’s Brandon Saad.  Saad said and did all the right things as a young player and earned everything he was given.

The Blackhawks already knew the Man Child could have success given his 6-2 frame and hard-working attitude.  Saad grew into a solid two-way forward, playing with future Hall of Famers Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa.  Saad posted 31 goals and 22 assists in his first season with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

 Andrew Shaw – Montreal Canadiens (Signed a 6-year, $23.4M contract with Montreal)

Some may have called Andrew Shaw the heart and soul of the Chicago Blackhawks the past few seasons.  With his relentless motor on the ice, his hard hits and his persistence to never back down, Shaw earned himself a roster spot on the Blackhawks after being an undrafted prospect.

Much like Boston’s Brad Marchand, Shaw came into the league as a “pest.”  He got other teams’ best players off their game and had no problem dropping the gloves to defend his teammates.

But his game quickly became more versatile when he established himself as a goal scorer and a powerplay threat.  The United Center has been pretty quiet without the Mutt buzzing around these days.

Next: Chicago Blackhawks’ Artem Anisimov Receives Weekly Second Star

In conclusion, if you’re a young player, you should take a look at what putting on the Blackhawks sweater can do for your career.  If you can specialize in one thing that can help this team win, there is a future for you in this league.  Whether that is bringing energy, hitting, penalty killing or defensive responsibility, just remember to be committed and you will always be rewarded down the road.

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