Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman promised change in April after his team was swept in the playoffs, and Bowman is keeping his promise. In about the span of 8 minutes on Friday, the Blackhawks traded away two key members of their core. Blackhawks made two draft-day trades Friday, trading defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson and Artemi Panarin in swaps with the Coyotes and Blue Jackets, respectively. Hjalmarsson had spent his entire 10-year career with Chicago, helping the Blackhawks to three Stanley Cup titles. He had five goals, 13 assists and a team-high 181 blocked shots in 73 games last season.
“Niklas’ contributions to the three Stanley Cup championship teams are well-known but his dependability as a teammate, selfless attitude and the way he represented the Chicago Blackhawks on and off the ice are what made him such a beloved member of the organization,” Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said in a statement. “He made his debut in Chicago in 2008 and quietly established himself as one of the toughest competitors in franchise history. We wish he and his family continued success.”
In the Hjalmarsson trade, The Blackhawks received defenseman Connor Murphy and Laurent Dauphin. Murphy is 24 years old and had two goals and a career-high 15 assists in 77 games with Arizona last season. Dauphin is 22 years old and has appeared in 32 NHL games over the past two seasons.
The Blackhawks made another big trade. Hawks traded Artemi Panarin, forward Tyler Motte and a sixth-round pick in this weekend’s draft to the Blue Jackets for Saad, goalie Anton Forsberg and a fifth-round pick in 2018. Panarin had been one of Blackhawks best players the last two seasons, having 77 points as a rookie in 2015-’16 and recording 74 points last season.
“Artemi Panarin was the best rookie in the NHL two years ago, a second team All-Star this past season and is one of the most dynamic offensive players in the NHL,” Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said in a statement. “There is a cost to adding a player like Artemi, as well as a very good NHL prospect in Tyler Motte, but we believe this is a very good move for our team. We wish Brandon and Anton well and thank them for their contributions to our organization.”
Anton Forsberg could be the backup goalie for the Blackhawks. Forsberg, 24, is 6-3 and 192 pounds and has played in 10 career NHL games. Forsberg is a restricted free agent on July 1. Brandon Saad is back with the Blackhawks as the Hawks actually drafted Saad in the second round of the 2011 draft. Saad had 24 goals and 29 assists in 82 games last season, his second season in Columbus. He played for the Blackhawks from 2011-’15 before being traded to the Blue Jackets in June 2015. Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman is not messing around.