The Blackhawks Stuck to the Plan at the NHL Trade Deadline

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The Blackhawks Stuck to the Plan at the NHL Trade Deadline

Chicago Blackhawks

The term “One Goal” has a completely different meaning with in the Chicago Blackhawks organization than in the way I’m going to use it today.

For the NHL Trade Deadline this year, Chicago had one goal in mind and that was to get more draft capital and more young, project-type players (with all that juicy, attendant upside that makes trying the “project” worth it). Fortunately, Stan Bowman did just that as the clock struck 2:00 p.m. on Monday and the Blackhawks converted their final four trades of the 2021 season.

Ahead of the deadline on Monday, Chicago made two deals that already looked like they would come out the other end of them as winners in the transaction. Vinnie Hinostroza has two assists in two games with the Blackhawks since being acquired in exchange for Brad Morrison, and the potential upside of Henrik Borgström and the usefulness in the NHL of Brett Connolly made the trade of the two Lucas’ (Wallmark and Carlsson) to Florida a net-win for the Blackhawks.

The deadline frenzy for Chicago started with a minor one-for-one deal, sending Matthew Highmore to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for Adam Gaudette. This deal that actually makes the Blackhawks better in the short-term because Gaudette is a bit more versatile in the lineup than Highmore was, making him a potential regular for Chicago whereas Highmore couldn’t hold a spot consistently.

Gaudette is coming from the Canucks organization, which is currently dealing with an intense COVID outbreak, but he cleared COVID protocol prior to the trade and will be able to join the Blackhawks quickly.

The big draw of the day for the Blackhawks was moving Mattias Janmark to the Vegas Golden Knights in a three-team trade. Prior to the deadline, I said that anything above a fourth round pick for Janmark would be a good deal, given the way the trade market was going. Chicago got even better than that in the return. All in all, Chicago and the San Jose Sharks helped the Golden Knights in acquiring Janmark and for the Blackhawks’ troubles, they were given the Golden Knights’ 2021 second-round pick and 2022 third-round pick.

Janmark did exactly what he was supposed to do with the Blackhawks this season. He signed a short-term deal in hopes of improving his value and eventually getting himself onto a contending team at the trade deadline. The Blackhawks’ vision this season has been (and remains to be) on the future. Getting a second-round pick from Vegas in the 2021 draft is great. Even if it’s going to be later in the round, since Vegas will be playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The future 2022 third-round pick will also likely be later in the round, but anything inside the top 100 picks is a decent grab for Chicago.

Obviously, the work wasn’t done with just Janmark on the move. Carl Söderberg also had decent value on the market and no future with the Blackhawks organization. Söderberg, much like Janmark, had just one job to do for the Blackhawks this season: play well enough to secure some future capital at the trade deadline. Sending Söderberg to the Colorado Avalanche, the Blackhawks in return got Josh Dickinson, a player who will likely do nothing more than bounce between the ECHL and AHL, and Ryder Rolston, a 2020 fifth-round pick and freshman at Notre Dame.

A fifth-round pick by the Avalanche in last summer’s draft, Rolston is teammates with fellow 2020 draft pick and Chicago prospect Landon Slaggert at the University of Notre Dame. Rolston had six points in 28 games for the Irish this season as a freshman. It’s a maybe, but as a theme for this year’s trade deadline, the Blackhawks are fine working with players who are “maybes” rather than players who have no more room to grow within the organization.

Chicago closed the trade deadline with one final move that went through after the 2:00 p.m. deadline as Madison Bowey was traded to the Vancouver Canucks, along with a 2021 fifth-round pick, in exchange for a 2021 fourth-round pick.

This move doesn’t jump off the page, but I have no issues with Stan Bowman and the Blackhawks trying to upgrade their draft positioning if it costs you a player who had no future with the organization anyway. Bowey was likely going to be exposed in the Seattle Expansion Draft this summer, having signed a two-year deal in late-January, but now it appears that the likelihood of the Blackhawks exposing defenseman Calvin de Haan is all but sealed.

Bowman is right. If there is a position where the Blackhawks could lose an NHL regular and still be “doing fine” is on the blue-line. With the seasons that Adam Boqvist, Nicolas Beaudin, Ian Mitchell, and Wyatt Kalynuk have had this season, there is a future for them in the NHL with the Blackhawks. Add in the fact that Alex Regula has been a favorite of the organization lately and it appears that Chicago will be able to recover from the likely loss of de Haan.

At the end of the day, even without trading Nikita Zadorov, the Blackhawks were able to execute an unflattering and successful trade deadline strategy. They were not going to be buyers and they were able to toss out the spare parts and get back in return enough “maybes” that they can throw at the wall and likely something will stick. Chicago needed to bolster their prospect depth and that’s what they did. They are still in a “rebuild as we go” pattern, but this is the first time I can remember where the organization said it was going to go in one direction at the trade deadline and then went in that direction without making any moves that made me question my entire sanity.

Now, they will focus their attention back on the Central Division playoff race and even though it will be without Janmark and Söderberg, two contributing regulars to the lineup, they will be able to plug in some of the new faces, or even some of the young faces, and still have an outside shot at the postseason. If they don’t get in, then it’s fine because that wasn’t the expectation this season and it allows them to continue to focus on the future and have better draft positioning this summer.

Bottom line: the Blackhawks are winners today.



Author: Mario Tirabassi

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.