Best: Finding the right rental
Is giving up a first-round draft choice and a prospect defenseman for a rental ever the right move for an NHL team? It is when your rental has a direct impact on your team winning the Stanley Cup.
When the Blackhawks gave up their top 2015 draft pick along with Klas Dahlbeck for Antoine Vermette of Arizona, reactions were relatively positive. Then, Vermette had just three points in 19 regular-season games as coach Joel Quenneville didn’t seem to know what to do with the veteran forward.
Da Windy City
This continued to be the case early in the postseason, as Vermette and Teravainen were bewilderingly scratched multiple times in favor of guys who just couldn’t offer nearly as much upside.
Finally, when the Blackhawks faced Anaheim in the Western Conference finals, Q and Vermette seemed to get on the same page. And Vermette immediately started playing like he had something to prove.
Vermette had four postseason goals, and three of them were game-winners. He ended Game 4 against the Ducks with a double-overtime tally. He then posted the final goal in Games 1 and 5 of the Cup Final against Tampa Bay.
Dahlbeck isn’t even with the Coyotes anymore, scoring six points in 43 games last season with Carolina. And Arizona used its newfound first-round pick on forward Nick Merkley, who has been entirely solid at the WHL level but hasn’t sniffed the NHL game just yet. So I’d say the Blackhawks were the big winner here.
Worst: Aging defenseman ages further
Maybe this deal is the reason Bowman has shied away from trying to boost his defense midseason the last two years. When the Blackhawks acquired Kimmo Timonen for Philadelphia for a 2015 second-round pick and a conditional 2016 fourth-round pick, general skepticism was probably the best way to describe the response.
Timonen had not played a game that season due to blood clots in his legs and was 40 years old by the time he hit Chicago. The Blackhawks were looking for someone to prop up the back end of their blue line so they didn’t have to play David Rundblad. They weren’t looking for a feel-good story.
That’s essentially all they got in Timonen. He tallied no points in 16 regular-season games, then added another bagel in 18 playoff contests. But at least he got his one Stanley Cup, right?
That certainly is a good thing. What wasn’t good was the two draft picks Chicago gave up for someone who did more to hurt the team than help it (unless he provided “veteran leadership” the Blackhawks love so much).
The second-round pick wound up going to Toronto and was used on Jeremy Bracco, who has not made it out of the OHL. The fourth-round choice was used by Philly on Wade Allison, who is at Western Michigan. So while this might seem more like a wash than a loss, who’s to say Bowman couldn’t have used those picks to help the system rebuild he’s currently engaging in? This trade just didn’t help Chicago in any way.