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Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks Are A Brand New Team After Week Of Moves

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May 23, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Brandon Saad (20) and Anaheim Ducks left wing Matt Beleskey (39) battle for the puck during the first period in game four of the Western Conference Final of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
May 23, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Brandon Saad (20) and Anaheim Ducks left wing Matt Beleskey (39) battle for the puck during the first period in game four of the Western Conference Final of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /
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Apr 15, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa (81) and Nashville Predators center Colton Sissons (10) fight for the puck during the first period in game two of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 15, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa (81) and Nashville Predators center Colton Sissons (10) fight for the puck during the first period in game two of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

What have the Chicago Blackhawks lost with all these changes?

I think the biggest recent loss to the team was that of Marian Hossa.  When I first heard about Hossa sitting out the 2017-18 season because of a skin condition, I was devastated.  I always said it would be a sad, sad day when we couldn’t watch Hossa work his magic on both sides of the puck anymore.

I wasn’t ready for it.  After all, at the end of the season he said he felt good and would be back.  Media in Slovakia reported that he had started his summer workouts, and that all seemed well.

So what happened?  Is this a conspiracy by the organization to get the ’Hawks under the salary cap? Putting Hossa on long-term injured reserve certainly seems like a nifty way to come into some more money.  If so, how could they do that to Hossa?  He doesn’t deserve to go out like this!  Devastation turned to anger.

But then it came out that Hossa had been dealing with this for a few years, and that the high doses of his medication were becoming a health hazard.  It was also revealed that working within the dynamics of LTIR will be very complicated for Stan Bowman.

And even with Hossa being 38 years old, I don’t think anyone is going to argue that he would still be of much more benefit on the ice than off.  My conclusion is that it was decided this was the solution that would most benefit both parties.

But it certainly doesn’t change that fact that I’m still devastated.  I’m not sure any of us realize what a loss it will be to not have Hossa anymore.  The addition of Saad helps, but NOBODY can replace Marian Hossa.

Dec 1, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson (4) celebrates after scoring a goal against the New Jersey Devils during the second period at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 1, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson (4) celebrates after scoring a goal against the New Jersey Devils during the second period at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports /

The next stunning move was the announcement of Hjalmarsson being traded to the Arizona Coyotes.  Along with Hossa, this means two key members of the core are gone.  No more yelling “Hjalmarsson!” Unless, or course, the ’Hawks are playing the Yotes.

And why does he have to rot away with a team like Arizona?!  Well, Hjammer had to give a list of 10 teams he could be traded to, so apparently this was one of those teams.

There are hockey moves and there are business moves.   The ’Hawks gained a younger, right-handed defenseman and a forward prospect in exchange for Hjalmarsson.  And they saved a small chunk of change in the process.  They gained something of value for an aging defenseman before he wasn’t as valuable anymore.  This was a business move.

But the hockey side of this exchange could get ugly in a hurry.  Hjalmarsson was, and still is, a top shutdown defenseman.  Who’s going to block all those shots?  And if they do, will they be able to shake it off and make the next shift?  But seriously, Hjammer provided a lot of intangibles on defense that will be very hard to backfill, at least in the short term.

More from Blackhawk Up

Moving on, the ’Hawks did have to pay a price to gain Saad.  They lost Artemi Panarin.  The Bread Man can score more goals, but he was getting stale in that department lately.  He’s become predictable, with the same shot over and over again.

Saad is definitely the more well-rounded player, and he’s younger.  And Kane can pretty much make anyone look good.  Alex DeBrincat, anyone? For more on this, please refer to this article by our editor, Keith Schultz.  Anyway, I think the benefit outweighs the loss on this one.

Let’s not forget this trade also involved the loss of Tyler Motte.  Motte only played in 33 games for the ’Hawks last season, so this isn’t such a tough pill to swallow.  He’ll probably get more playing time and have better opportunities in Columbus.  Best of luck to you, young man.

It was expected, and it got lost in the shuffle of the above discussed blockbuster trades, but Trevor van Riemsdyk was taken in the expansion draft by the Vegas Golden Knights.  He was then promptly shipped off the Carolina Hurricanes.   Either way, he’s no longer a Chicago Blackhawk.

Most may think this is no big deal, but TVR had three years of experience within the ’Hawks’ system.  He was actually developing quite nicely, showing improvement each season.  He was relatively reliable as a third-pairing defenseman, and he had an offensive upside as well.

His replacement is newcomer Jan Rutta, who also plays on the right side.  Many have high hopes from the European signing.  But again, he doesn’t have three years of experience under his belt.  Why does everything seem to be pointing towards a rebuild?

I guess with big contracts for your core, and an ever-changing league, the Chicago Blackhawks have no other choice.

Next: Insanely Early Project Lines

Do you see what I mean about the Chicago Blackhawks looking like a completely different team?  Things have just gotten very interesting for the 2017-18 season.  It’s time for the core to earn its money.  It’s time for last year’s rookies to step it up.  And it’s time for all the newcomers to find their stride sooner rather than later.

If any of these things don’t happen, we could be in for a rough season.

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