Daley, Garbutt ready to blend in with Blackhawks


Daley, Garbutt ready to blend in with Blackhawks

Trevor Daley was an offensive-minded defenseman, especially last year when he scored a career-best 16 goals in what turned out to be his final season with the Dallas Stars.

Will that be his role with the Blackhawks? Or will he be expected to be more of a defensive-minded defenseman for a team that puts that element first? Whatever the task, Daley’s willing to do it.

“I’m coming on to a team that just won a Cup. I’m looking to fit in, follow their lead and listen because I want to win one with them,” Daley said via conference call on Monday. “I’m willing to do whatever I’m supposed to do."

“When I sit down with Joel and figure that out or if it’s just let your game come to it, either way, I’m excited about the opportunity I’m getting here,” Daley said. “And I’ll try to take full advantage of it.”

Daley and Ryan Garbutt, both acquired by the Blackhawks in the deal that sent Patrick Sharp and Stephen Johns to Dallas, echoed the same sentiment: they’ll do what they’re told to do with their new team. That’s a mantra most have taken when they’ve joined the Blackhawks in recent years. From these two to Brad Richards to Antoine Vermette, joining an established team like the Blackhawks means you may or may not play the same role you’ve had previously. And that’s just fine with Daley and Garbutt.

“Any time you change teams you think, where do you fit in?” Garbutt said. “Coming onto a team like the Hawks, with the pedigree they have, you just want to do whatever you can to fit in and play whatever role they want you to play.”

Daley underwent hip surgery in April but said he will be “ready to go on Day 1.” Indeed, the Blackhawks are a defense-first team; but general manager Stan Bowman, who talked of the deal on Friday night, liked the offensive edge Daley could lend to the blue line. He will join an established group on the Blackhawks’ blue line with Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson. The Blackhawks’ top four got extra work last spring, especially after Michal Rozsival was injured. That and the Blackhawks’ penchant for playing an up-tempo game are enticing for Daley.

“Both teams that were playing in the final… there was a lot of skill and they played a fast-paced game,” Daley said of the Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning. “That excites me because that’s the game I like to play.”

Garbutt, meanwhile, adds some sandpaper to a team that already has a few guys contributing that, Andrew Shaw and Andrew Desjardins among them. If Garbutt just adds to that or develops a few new wrinkles to his game – the Blackhawks always like players willing to expand their roles – he’ll do so.

“They play a high-speed game with a lot of offense but they take care of their own zone,” Garbutt said. “I think of myself as someone who can play both ends of the rink. I’ll definitely work hard every night. I see guys who play hard, 100 percent every night; that’s something I’m definitely looking forward to learning from the group and I can’t wait to get started.”

Some who have joined the Blackhawks in recent years have learned a common theme: playing your game is encouraged but accepting a different role is sometimes necessary. It’s not always easy. But for a chance to win the Cup, several have rolled with the changes with great results. Daley and Garbutt will look to do the same thing.

“I get to go play for the best team in hockey, go watch some future hall of famers play hockey and play with them on the same team,” Daley said. “I’m looking forward to the challenge and I’ll just try to take advantage of it and run with it.”

NHL Draft Profile: F Oliver Wahlstrom

NHL Draft Profile: F Oliver Wahlstrom

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Oliver Wahlstrom

Position: Right wing
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 205 pounds
Shoots: Right

Scouting report:

"Wahlstrom already has an NHL-caliber shot with a quick release and the ability to create space for himself and linemates. He's most known for his goal-scoring ability and elite shot, and can hit a one-timer as good or better than many professional players."

NHL player comparable: Phil Kessel

Fit for Blackhawks:

The Blackhawks would probably prefer to take a defenseman at No. 8, but because four of them might go inside the Top 7, the best available player on the board is likely to be a forward. And there's a decent chance that could be Wahlstrom.

Wahlstrom would immediately become Chicago's top prospect, and a player that has the potential to slide into the top six when he reaches the NHL — whenever that may be.

He's committed to college for the 2018-19 season, so it's doubtful he would join the team until at least 2019-20, but Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley said in our draft preview edition of the Hawks Talk Podcast that it wouldn't deter them from picking him. 

And it shouldn't, because you don't want to waste a player of his caliber's entry-level years developing in the minors if he's not ready yet.

"I think the way we would evaluate it is, we project them, we try to get a timeline on when we think they might be NHL ready," Kelley said. "But we're also looking for where they are in their development curve and want their ceiling is. I think in some players, you have to be a little bit more patient for them to reach their ceiling. That doesn't necessarily mean that players can't exceed their development curve, I think we saw that with Alex DeBrincat last year."

NHL Draft Profile: D Rasmus Dahlin

NHL Draft Profile: D Rasmus Dahlin

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Rasmus Dahlin

Position: Defenseman
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 181 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"Is the clear-cut No. 1, pro ready prospect for the 2018 draft. He has the skating, skills and elite hockey sense that can dictate the style of play and the pace of a game, whether it's with or without the puck. He finds ways to contribute and get the job done in all situations."

NHL player comparable: Nicklas Lidstrom

Fit for Blackhawks:

There is zero chance the Blackhawks can snag Dahlin, because it's highly unlikely the Buffalo Sabres would consider moving out of the No. 1 spot, and even if they did it would require a king's ransom. But for the sake of this exercise, what would Dahlin do for the Blackhawks organization?

Well, he's a player who immediately slots into your Top 4 and has the potential to emerge as Chicago's best defenseman in the next year or two. We're seeing it in Boston with Charlie McAvoy, Philadelphia with Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov, and Columbus with Zach Werenski and Seth Jones where these young defensemen are changing the directions of their franchise's.

That's what Dahlin would do for the Blackhawks, who are in desperate need of a young, impact blue liner. Now back to reality.