Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks’ Duclair-Panik Trade: 5 Thoughts On The Swap

By Colin Likas
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 30: A general view outside prior to a game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Dallas Stars on November 30, 2017, at the United Center in Chicago, IL.(Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 30: A general view outside prior to a game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Dallas Stars on November 30, 2017, at the United Center in Chicago, IL.(Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman surprised us all Wednesday by converting a trade with the Arizona Coyotes, acquiring Richard Panik for Anthony Duclair

Perhaps a trade could be seen coming. After all, the Chicago Blackhawks’ rash of moves Monday and Tuesday seemed a bit out of place, given their actions throughout the rest of an up-and-down campaign.

But lo and behold, Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman pulled the trigger on a decent-sized move. He sent Richard Panik and Laurent Dauphin to the Arizona Coyotes for Anthony Duclair and Adam Clendening.

Yes, Dauphin was acquired from Arizona in the Niklas Hjalmarsson deal. And, yes, Clendening is a former Blackhawk. But neither of those two are the key pieces of this deal. So let’s get into five thoughts on what should be known as the Duclair-Panik trade.

Change of scenery

We’ll get into how this move favors or does not favor the Blackhawks in a second. First, I’d like to point to some very interesting tweets that came out shortly after the trade was announced.

If nothing else comes from this trade, it will at least give the two forwards, Duclair and Panik, a shot at a fresh start. Given Panik’s struggles this season and Duclair’s inability to live up to his rookie season so far, it seems an important step for both guys.

Blackhawks have a focus

Now, on to actually analyzing the trade. I think the Blackhawks made out really well here. Let’s first just discuss Duclair for Panik, the players and not the dollars.

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Duclair is a 22-year-old winger with good speed and good hands who tallied 44 points in his first NHL campaign. He’s since netted just 30 points over last season and the first half of this season.

Panik is a 26-year-old winger (who will be 27 in less than a month) with good ability to battle along the boards. He tallied 44 points last season after never hitting more than 17 prior, and has netted 16 points this season.

I guess if you think the Blackhawks need more hitting, “grit” and brute force, you’d think this is an abysmal trade. Duclair is 5-foot-11, and Panik is a power forward. But if you look at this from the perspective of the Blackhawks continuing to adapt to a younger, quicker NHL, then you’d probably feel this is a solid deal. I’m on the latter boat.

Bowman hasn’t always been the quickest to adjust to certain situations, but he’s gotten there more often than not. I think he’s very slowly, last offseason and this regular season, set the Blackhawks on a course to get more youthful and more prepared for today’s league.

Will it necessarily lead to the Blackhawks seriously contending for the Stanley Cup this year? That’s uncertain. Does it put them in a better spot for the future? Very much so.

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The price is right

When Hjalmarsson was moved for Connor Murphy in what was primarily deemed a cost-cutting measure, some fans weren’t pleased. Murphy, after a slow start, has come around to be a solid blueliner for Chicago, though.

And some fans, again, may not be happy with Bowman cutting ties with a guy who offered a cap hit of nearly $3 million per season after one good year. But considering the key return is a player who fits better in today’s NHL, is younger and is making barely more than $1 million this season ahead of restricted free agency, this is a coup for the Blackhawks.

It’s not like Duclair has lit up the earth since his rookie season. A major raise over $1.2 million isn’t in the cards unless he goes catatonic with the Blackhawks in 2017-18. Therefore, he’s a reasonably-priced piece to actually keep around, and not just a rental. And he’s someone who can help the Blackhawks now and continue to improve later.

Here’s the monetary perspective of this deal:

(The Sikura item was brought up by Bowman on Wednesday, not just Chicago Sun-Times writer Mark Lazerus trying his hand at soothsaying.)

There’s good stuff here beyond just the Blackhawks getting a player I think is a better fit for them right now.

The other guys

Though Duclair and Panik are the key pieces here, it’s worth mentioning Dauphin and Clendening. It’s especially interesting because the two are both going back to teams they previously played for.

Dauphin’s possible NHL spot seems to have been eaten up by David Kampf. So that led to him being expendable. Meanwhile, Clendening is simply AHL filler. He’s not an NHL-caliber defenseman right now, and we shouldn’t expect to see him used as such.

Slotting Duclair into the lineup

This is the big item right now. Where will Duclair fit into coach Joel Quenneville‘s rotation? Duclair is going to play; that isn’t a question. Who he will play alongside is.

Multiple Twitter personalities have suggested Duclair line up alongside Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane. I’d certainly be interested to see that, as it allows Ryan Hartman to slot down on the fourth line and also keeps a decently-performing third line intact.

What really gets tricky is when Artem Anisimov returns from injury. That’s going to crowd things significantly, mostly because it pushes Schmaltz back to a wing. Duclair wasn’t brought into Chicago to sit or be sent to Rockford, so he’ll find a home regardless of the situation. But Anisimov’s impending return leads to more questions of where.

There is the chance Bowman isn’t done wheeling and dealing yet, either. The Blackhawks could certainly use another defenseman Q actually trusts (though him using seven defensemen and barely playing three of them was comical Wednesday). What would it take to get such a player? That could be the reason the roster seems so crowded right now.

Next: Blackhawks Trade Panik To Coyotes For Duclair

But let’s enjoy Duclair’s arrival and his first game as a Blackhawk, which will take place Friday against Winnipeg. No matter where he fits in the lineup, I’m looking forward to a fresh boost — similar to the one provided by Vinnie Hinostroza — permeating the Blackhawks’ locker room.

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