How a 1999 Draft Day Trade Won The Blackhawks 3 Cups And Isn’t Over

Niklas Hjalmarsson #4, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Niklas Hjalmarsson #4, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Niklas Hjalmarsson #4, Chicago Blackhawks
Niklas Hjalmarsson #4, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

The string of trades that had the Chicago Blackhawks wind up with Connor Murphy spans decades and still goes strong today.

By now, we all know the story of how the Chicago Blackhawks wound up with Connor Murphy. Former GM Stan Bowman traded Connor Murphy for Niklas Hjalmarsson in the 2017 offseason. After a year or so of adjusting to his new team, Murphy is one of its better players.

Now, what if I told you the way this trade tracker gets its start isn’t in 2017. It doesn’t start in Hammer’s NHL Entry Draft year in 2005 either.  Where this trade really starts, is a June 1999 draft day deal between the Vancouver Canucks and the Chicago Blackhawks.

This is the story of an offseason trade that has spider-webbed over two decades and is still a living beast today.  Buckle up, let’s learn some stuff.

We begin with a 1999 NHL Entry Draft Day pick swap, a 1999 1st for 2000 1st.

In order to get to where everyone’s favorite shot-blocking Swede comes into the picture, we must start with that draft pick swap. Chicago sent 1999 1st Round pick (4th Overall) to Vancouver in exchange for their 2000 or 2001 1st Round Draft pick. Chicago used the pick in 2000, at 11th overall to take Pavel Vorobiev.  As part of that package, Chicago also acquired a player whose name should be very familiar to Toronto Maple Leafs fans, Dman Bryan McCabe.

McCabe would go on to play the next season for Chicago before again being sent on his way, this time to his recognizable spot in Maple Leafs lore. Early October 2000, the trade call came in and D Bryan McCabe was shipped up North for D Alexander Karpovtsev.  The trade wasn’t 1 for 1, the Leafs also sent a 4th round pick in 2001 the Blackhawks way, which they used to take Vladimir Gusev.

Alexander Karpovstev was the key part of the trade that brought Niklas Hjalmarsson’s draft pick to Chicago

Karpovstev would play a few years in a Hawks sweater, compiling 46 points in 184 games as a Blackhawk. Then, during the 2003-04 season, Karpovtsev was traded to the Islanders in a March Trade Deadline Day Deal. In exchange, the Blackhawks got a 2005 4th round pick. The Islanders would have no idea that their pick would go on to hold such an important part of another franchise’s lore.

That 4th round pick was used to select Niklas Hjalmarsson. Hjalmarsson was a key part of the defense for two Stanley Cups, made up half of an elite lockdown pair with Johnny Oduya, and had only recently announced his retirement. The wake of that saw the analytics community pour over just how good Hammer was, crowning him the best defensive defenseman of the cap era, and it might not be all that close.

The Blackhawks would get well over 600 games from Hjalmarsson. In that time, he’d average over 20 minutes a night of hard, lockdown hockey. They’d have multiple postseason runs and three Cups with Hjalmarsson forming a key part of the defense, especially in 2015 when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup by really only playing 4 defensemen.