Chicago Blackhawks: 3 Trades with Winnipeg Jets on Display Saturday Afternoon
The Chicago Blackhawks will be skating with some familiar faces when they drop the puck in Winnipeg Saturday. Not only will Chicago be renewing a divisional rivalry with the Jets, they will also come face to face with three players traded in the aftermath of Stanley Cup triumphs.
Realignment has placed Winnipeg into the Central Division in 2013-14. The Jets are currently inhabiting the basement with a 5-7-2 mark and are coming off home losses to Colorado and St. Louis.
Chicago is looking to make it three in a row on this short venture West. As they try to build on their efforts earlier in the week, the 'Hawks will likely see a lot of three former skaters who have Stanley Cup rings in their lockers.
Each player was dealt to the Jets mostly due to the salary cap, two in separate deals back in the summer of 2010 and another this past summer. Let's take a look at the three trades and how the centerpiece of each swap is faring for Winnipeg.
1. Dustin Byfuglien
Chicago send Byfuglien, Brent Sopel and Ben Eager from the 2010 Stanley Cup champs, along with prospect Akim Aliu, to Atlanta. The Thrashers gave the 'Hawks Marty Reasoner, Joey Crabb and Jeremy Morin, plus first- and second-round picks in the 2010 NHL draft.
How Things Turned Out
Reasoner and Crabb didn't last the summer with Chicago. Eager and Sopel each were traded by Atlanta at the following season's trade deadline. Aliu has seven NHL games played and is currently on an AHL deal with the Hamilton Bulldogs.
Byfuglien, now a full-time defenseman, was an All-Star and 20-goal scorer in Atlanta in the 2010-11 season. He equaled his 53 points that season in 2011-12 (12G, 41A) when the franchise moved to Winnipeg and maintained that scoring pace with 28 points in 43 appearances last season.
Byfuglien has nine assists so far this season and is playing more than 26 minutes a game, so the 'Hawks will see a lot of him Saturday.
On the Chicago side, it comes down to Morin, who is now skating third-line minutes for the Blackhawks, and the two picks. Kevin Hayes, the first-rounder, is still at Boston College. Justin Holl, the second-round pick, is a senior at the University of Minnesota.
So far, the Jets got the better of the deal in that Byfuglien has been a very productive player for them for several seasons. However, the deal was a salary dump for Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman. It had to be made, and Morin could be a decent enough return when all is said and done.
2. Andrew Ladd
A week after the Byfuglien deal, Chicago sent Ladd to Atlanta for defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy and the Thrashers' second-round pick in 2011.
How Things Turned Out
Vishnevskiy played 46 games for Rockford in the AHL the following season, then he went home to the KHL. That second-rounder in 2011 was defenseman Adam Clendening, who had an impressive rookie season with the IceHogs and is back for his second season.
Ladd's departure may have been the most bittersweet in the 2010 purge. A young power forward with two championships on his resume was hard to lose.
Look at it this way. Ladd had a sensational 2010-11 campaign (29G, 30A) and signed a big contract with the Jets the next summer. He had 46 points (18G, 28A) in 48 games last season. His current cap hit is just $400,000 more than Bryan Bickell's this season.
Winnipeg's captain is off to a good start with three goals and seven helpers in 2013-14. I know a lot of people still pine for Byfuglien, but Ladd is the player I thought was the biggest loss from the 2010 Stanley Cup winner.
3. Michael Frolik
On the eve of last summer's draft, Chicago sent Frolik to the Jets in exchange for Winnipeg's third and fifth selections in the 2013 NHL draft.
How Things Turned Out
Chicago picked John Hayden (third) and Luke Johnson (fifth) with those selections, and it will be some time before those players can be evaluated.
Frolik, who had a hand in the Stanley Cup-clinching goal, was a big part of a dominant Chicago penalty-killing unit. Could missing Frolik be the cause of that unit's struggles this season. That's a debate for a different day, but here's what the 'Hawks lost in dealing Frolik and his $2.3 million cap hit.
Chicago lost a player who left his offensive prowess back in Florida but never pouted about being relegated to a lower-line checking forward. He reinvented himself as a defensive stopper and skated hard, and he was a big part of a championship team.
With six points (2G, 4A) in 14 games, it isn't a stretch to think that Frolik could eclipse his offensive production in his two full Chicago seasons (8G, 17A). As a role player, Frolik was a tough departure to take so soon after the glory of a Stanley Cup parade. However, Bowman once again had to make a business decision.
Good Luck...Just Not Saturday Afternoon
The three players dealt to the Jets by Chicago are all still young and have productive years ahead of them. Bowman did his best to shed salary and pick up prospects in exchange.
In the coming years, the yield Bowman received for Byfuglien, Ladd and Frolik can be measured in how those prospects wind up contributing to the 'Hawks. Until then, I wish the former 'Hawks well.
Just save the big games for other Central Division opponents, please.