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Chicago Blackhawks’ Draft Day Trades Build Toward Team’s Future

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Feb 21, 2017; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson (4) waits for the faceoff in the second period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 21, 2017; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson (4) waits for the faceoff in the second period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Chicago Blackhawks made two blockbuster deals hour before the 2017 NHL Entry Draft while keeping an eye toward the future

Leave it to the Chicago Blackhawks, hosts of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, to blow everything up at 11 a.m. the morning of the draft. Leave it to the Chicago Blackhawks to steal the show when the NHL is on full display. Leave it to the Chicago Blackhawks to force me out of my summer hiatus.

Well, hello everyone. How are things? Good? I hope so.

By now you have seen the deals the Chicago Blackhawks have made prior to the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. But if you haven’t, a quick recap:

That’s one.

That’s two.

Where do these deals leave the Blackhawks after back-to-back first-round exits in the Stanley Cup Playoffs? The short version would be: not better right now, but give it time.

Breaking down the first move

The long version is that the Blackhawks were in a pickle both financially and talent-wise. Their core is aging, most notably on defense, and the deal with Arizona addresses that. Connor Murphy, 24, has a five-year deal remaining at just under $4 million per year. Murphy is a two-way player and right-handed defenseman who captained Team USA at the 2017 IIHF World Championships.

Being that he has been with a bad team since he was drafted in 2011, Murphy’s potential could be reached with Chicago, with more skilled players around him.

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Dauphin is a depth forward piece who can replace the loss of Tyler Motte from the deal with Columbus, and at just 22 years old, he still has room to grow in a similar situation as Murphy, on a better team.

The loss of Hjalmarsson is tough to swallow right away, but as time goes on, it wouldn’t surprise me if Blackhawks fans grow to appreciate the skill of a guy like Murphy, who could play in roles like Hjalmarsson did.

The move making the biggest splash, as this is being written, came mere seconds after the Hjalmarsson deal was finalized. Saad and Panarin are switching places in a deal that only lived in the blogosphere as a “what if” scenario until today.

Breaking down the second move

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Skill for skill, Panarin and Saad are essentially a wash, but the difference comes with the versatility that Saad brings. Blackhawks fans know what they have in a player like Saad: two-way forward who can produce 5-on-5 and powerplay and can kill penalties.

While Panarin’s game was starting to come around defensively, Saad is already there. Like a younger Marian Hossa, Saad will step right back into Chicago’s lineup, locker room and community like he never left.

The loss of Panarin hurts because he was just coming into his own in Chicago and fans were behind him. But skill for skill and dollar for dollar, Panarin’s loss is overshadowed by Saad’s addition. As for Motte, he still has a lot to show, but his future is bright in the NHL and Columbus gives him a good chance to reach it.

The underrated part of the Columbus deal is the addition of Forsberg. Since Scott Darling was dealt to Carolina, the Blackhawks had a giant hole to fill at the backup goalie position. Forsberg, 24, has been a solid goalie at the AHL level, helping the Lake Erie Monsters (now the Cleveland Monsters) win the 2016 Calder Cup.

He’s young, he’s cheap and he can step into an NHL backup role behind Corey Crawford right now.

Next: Reaction To Trades Of Hjalmarsson, Panarin

A whirlwind day for the Chicago Blackhawks has proved to be a benefit for the future. Chicago is now younger, more cost efficient, and in the long run, open to being a better team. Will this be the end of the deals the Blackhawks make?

HA! What am I, an idiot? Don’t answer that.

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