The move was made primarily to help ease the Blackhawks’ salary-cap issues, the problems we all knew they were going to have entering the 2015-16 season.
But when Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman traded Patrick Sharp he said he wanted to get players who could help this team now, not later.
The Blackhawks acquired defenseman Trevor Daley and forward Ryan Garbutt in the deal that sent Sharp and defenseman Stephen Johns to the Dallas Stars on Friday night. For Bowman, who said he took “countless phone calls” over the last several weeks, this deal worked for the Blackhawks.
“Sometimes when you make trades of players who make a lot of money, you’re trying to get picks or prospects back. The key is to make our team better," Bowman said. "Obviously we’re trading away a good player. But this wasn’t trying to just get things that would help us down the road. We like our team as it is. We think we have a strong group of guys coming back that led us to the Cup a month ago. That was really the thing we talked about when in discussions with Dallas, trying to get something that could help us now.”
What the Blackhawks get now is a veteran defenseman in Daley, who was with the Stars since the 2003-04 season. Daley recorded career highs in goals (16), assists (22) and points (38) in 68 games last season.
“He scored is last two years in Dallas, nine and 16 goals, so he’s on an uptick with his offensive game,” Bowman said. “In today’s game, having someone from the back end who can score at that rate is a nice weapon to have. We’ve always marveled at Trevor’s ability to skate. He’s a very active player, involved in the play. He’ll be a great fit for the style of hockey we play here.”
So does that mean there’s no chance that Johnny Oduya re-signs with the Blackhawks? It never seemed like a great possibility — the Blackhawks needed to fix their cap issues before they even thought about re-signing the defenseman. With Daley now here, it seems unlikely Oduya returns. But Bowman wouldn’t completely dismiss the possibility.
“I’m not going to rule anything out or in. It’s still sort of a fluid situation and there are a lot of factors at play,” Bowman said. “We’re getting closer to a point where we can say, ‘This is our team,’ but we’re not there yet. There have been some discussions on different things, but I can’t characterize it as more than that.”
Johns was expected to be a part of the Blackhawks’ defense when the regular season opened. Now, he’s headed to Dallas. It was a tough player to part with for Bowman, “but sometimes it’s required to make a deal.”
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“I do like that we have a number of prospects in our system that we’re still high on,” Bowman said. “We have a number of Swedish defensemen; they’re not over here in North America but their development is coming along nicely. We have others over here already who have made a positive impact.”
In Garbutt, the Blackhawks get a player who could fill a checking-line role. Garbutt had just eight goals in 67 games last season but had 17 goals in 75 games the previous season.
The Blackhawks knew the financial situation they were in and knew Sharp was a likely casualty of that cap problem. They wanted to get something in return, and something that could help them in the present. They’re hoping they got that.
“Obviously it’s difficult trading away an established player like Patrick Sharp and a good young player like Johns. But we wanted to continue to add pieces that can contribute next season,” Bowman said. “We’re excited for that.”