Unless you are living under a rock, you probably know the Chicago Blackhawks will be drafting 3rd overall at the NHL Draft today.
With all the speculation going into who Chicago will pick, I think we all need to look to the past to see what might happen on Friday.
The Blackhawks have not had a blockbuster trade day since the 2017 NHL Draft. Chicago sent NHL superstar Artemi Panarin to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Brandon Saad, who won 2 Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks.
The ‘Hawks did not end the day with just one trade. They also sent Niklas Hjalmarsson to the Arizona Coyotes for Connor Murphy, a young defenseman who could hopefully progress into a top defender in Chicago.
Those 2 trades in 2017 drastically changed the Blackhawks, as they were suddenly younger with a completely new dynamic. Stan Bowman promised changes after Chicago failed to win a single playoff game in the first round against Nashville, and the changes he made started at the NHL draft.
Blackhawks fans were truly caught off guard by the trades back in 2017, and the question for ‘Hawks fans now is: will we see something similar this year? Could the Blackhawks do something more than just draft third overall on Friday?
Maybe we will see some players change jerseys. Let’s take a look at a few potential trade pieces Chicago might move on Friday.
Brandon Saad’s second stint with the Blackhawks has not been the same as his first stint, when he won 2 Stanley Cups. He plays a different role for the team now and is honestly having a hard time finding the back of the net.
Part of the issue with Saad is who people are comparing him with. Artemi Panarin is a prolific goal scorer who can single-handedly carry an offense the same way Patrick Kane does.
Stan Bowman felt the Blackhawks needed Saad’s defensive capabilities more than Panarin’s offensive abilities. Until Saad is no longer compared to Panarin, he will struggle in the eyes of Blackhawks fans.
Maybe the one thing Saad needs is a fresh start. Trading him during NHL Draft would give the Blackhawks a valuable asset in return, whether it be a forward or defender.
Brandon Saad might be the best player that the Blackhawks have available to move, and if they are serious about improving their team via the trade market, they are going to have to give something up.
Artem Anisimov is 31 years old and put up a pretty respectable 37 points last season. At this point, the best years of his career are likely behind him.
Anisimov’s best stint in the NHL will always be the 2 years he played with Kane and Panarin, but he is still a reliable 3rd line center.
Anisimov still has 2 years remaining on his current contract, with a cap hit of $4.55 million. This offseason is the first time since signing his contract in 2015 that Anisimov has no form of a no-trade clause.
The Blackhawks should take advantage of the lack of a trade clause and try to move Anisimov. Finding a taker might be the only issue though.
Connor Murphy / Erik Gustafsson / Gustav Forsling / Slater Koekkoek / Carl Dahlstrom
The Blackhawks need GOOD defenseman, not a lot of bottom pairing defenseman. The ‘Hawks won a Stanley Cup in 2015 with quality defenseman, not quantity.
Having this many defensemen on the roster is not going to help in November or December. Chicago also needs to reinforce their top 6 and round out the top 9.
The top 4 defenders for me would have to include Keith, Jokiharju, Murphy, and Maatta. There is no way the Blackhawks ever get rid of Brent Seabrook’s contract, so there is only one other spot available for everyone else.
I love Erik Gustafsson on the Blackhawks power play unit. He is great at quarterbacking the unit and was a big reason for the turn around on the power play.
However, he was a liability in the defensive zone. With 60 points this season, Gustafsson was still a -6 on the ±, meaning he was out on the ice for A LOT of goals against.
Maybe the ‘Hawks can move Gustafsson to the fourth line on the wing, and still let him quarterback the Blackhawks’ power play. If not, Chicago should at least test the market for a potential Gustafsson trade.
The ‘Hawks have a lot of offensive defenseman in the pipeline that can take Gustafsson’s spot on the top power play in a year or two.
Expectations Going Forward
When you think of the draft in 2017 in Chicago, no one was expecting the Blackhawks to trade Artemi Panarin, or Niklas Hjalmarsson, and yet the Blackhawks did it.
The only difference is if the Blackhawks trade the third overall pick, it would not just shock fans, it would enrage them. Out of all the possible pieces to move, please do not trade this pick, Stan Bowman.
The Blackhawks have some pieces available to trade, and some of them can generate a good return. The Blackhawks are not selling these players for picks or prospects, but rather trying to find talent to help them win now. Stan Bowman had this to say about the trade talks now:
Chicago only needs to make a trade if it benefits the team, so do not trade Brandon Saad or Artem Anisimov for a bunch of pucks, please. The 2019 NHL Draft is just a day away and I hope you all are excited now that the offseason is officially underway!