5 – The June 23rd Catastrophe
On June 23rd, 2017 the Chicago Blackhawks made two trades which drastically changed the state of the franchise.
I’ll let NHL.com give us the details again:
"“The Chicago Blackhawks on Friday traded left wing Artemi Panarin, forward Tyler Motte and a sixth-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft to the Columbus Blue Jackets for former Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad, goalie Anton Forsberg and a fifth-round pick in 2018.”"
"“They also traded defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to the Arizona Coyotes for defenseman Connor Murphyand forward Laurent Dauphin.”"
The Hjalmarsson deal has proven to be a good one two years removed. Connor Murphy is younger, makes less money and has more potential left in his career. This trade absolutely had the future in mind and it will help the Chicago Blackhawks in the long run, despite however much the ‘Hawks “D” misses Hjalmarsson.
Still, what bothers me about this trade and the one previous is that it comes off as a knee jerk reaction from Bowman. The 2016-17 Chicago Blackhawks were a 50-win team who happened to play their worst hockey of the season during the biggest moment. It wasn’t what they wanted, but these guys are human.
That ‘Hawks team had their problems and needed to get both quicker and younger, but it’s not as if the Artemi Panarin / Tyler Motte trade helped to accomplish that. I feel that Bowman gave up too early on this group and shouldn’t have abandoned Panarin, Motte or Hjalmarsson at the time that he did.
Had these trades happened after the following season in which they missed the playoffs I’d understand, but they didn’t.
Panarin put up an 82-point season last year for the Columbus Blue Jackets and currently has 83 through 76 games this season. His offensive numbers are always impressive, but he has a solid plus/minus and CF% the past two seasons (+37 and 55.75%, respectively) as well.
Motte has struggled a bit through the first four seasons of his career, but he’s become a regular in the Vancouver Canucks lineup this year. In 74 games he has just 9 goals and 7 assists. That said, at only 23 he still has room to grow.
On the Chicago Blackhawks end, Anton Forsberg has played his way out of the team’s future plans. Fortunately, after struggling in his return to the ‘Hawks last season Brandon Saad is finally starting to find his footing. His two-way ability is showing through regularly again and he’s doing more than just hitting the post on every shot.
Want your voice heard? Join the Blackhawk Up team!
Saad’s presence greatly helps to replace the hole left by Marian Hossa, so the move itself doesn’t bother me. Still, the timing of these moves is still too early for me. The transactions on July 23rd, 2017 left me in disbelief, truly wishing it was all a “July Fools” joke.