The Chicago Blackhawks pulled off a surprising trade early Friday, moving defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to the Arizona Coyotes
When it was announced earlier this week that Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa would not play in the 2017-18 season due to allergies related to his equipment, it was believed the Blackhawks would no longer have to move multiple core pieces to stay under the salary cap.
The Blackhawks blew up that notion Friday morning by trading three-time Stanley Cup champion and defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson. The Swede was moved to Arizona for defenseman Connor Murphy and center Laurent Dauphin.
This all came together very quickly ahead of the 2017 NHL Draft, which is being held tonight and tomorrow at the United Center. SportsNet’s Elliotte Friedman earlier reported the Blackhawks were talking with the Coyotes about a deal to move up to No. 7 in the draft.
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Then, Friedman said the Blackhawks and Coyotes were working on a separate deal for Hjalmarsson … and it was done moments later.
What the Blackhawks are getting, giving up
Let’s talk about Murphy and Dauphin first. Murphy is the more NHL-ready player, having spent at least parts of the last four seasons with the Coyotes. The 24-year-old checks in at 6-foot-4 and 212 pounds.
Murphy tallied 49 points in 258 games during his seasons with Arizona/Phoenix. He started 58.5 percent of his shifts in the defensive zone last season, carrying a 46.0 Corsi-for rating in the process.
Murphy, a right-handed shot, was also the United States’ team captain during the IIHF World Championships earlier this year. He carried two points in eight games.
Dauphin is projected to start with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs next season. The left-handed shot is 22 years old and checks in at 6-2, 180. He tallied three points in 24 games with the Coyotes last season in addition to 28 points over 38 games with the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners.
The Blackhawks acquire a savings of just $250,000 between Murphy and Hjalmarsson as far as the salary cap goes. Hjalmarsson, 30, was a key piece for the Blackhawks en route to three Stanley Cup wins in the last eight years. The defensive-minded defenseman tallied 143 points in 623 regular-season games and 28 points in 128 postseason games.
The Blackhawks will be getting younger on the back end, in addition to adding a much-neededed right-handed shot in Murphy. We’ll have more to talk about with this deal later on.