Stanton, a long-time 'Hawks prospect, was a tough man to lose this past fall when the team lost him through the waiver process. I was of the belief that Stanton could come in and play a role on Chicago's third line this season.
It turns out that I was right. It just didn't happen in Chicago.
'Hawks fans will see plenty of the 24-year-old Stanton Saturday night as Chicago visits Vancouver to tangle with the Canucks. Vancouver snatched the 6'2", 196-pound blue liner Sept. 30 when the Blackhawks chose to keep Michael Kostka on the roster.
General manager Stan Bowman was probably hoping to get Stanton through waivers and squirreled away in Rockford for another season. Two months later, Kostka is on injured reserve and Stanton is playing quality minutes for a Western Conference rival.
Let's not be too hard on the 'Hawks. Kostka will likely contribute once he is healthy. Stanton just got caught up in a numbers game in Chicago. The winners were the Canucks, who picked up defensive depth on the cheap.
Bowman re-signed Michal Rozsival as well as picking up Kostka in the offseason. Stanton, who signed a two-year contract with Chicago last summer, was facing another year with the IceHogs.
Stanton had steadily developed into a solid defender after signing with the 'Hawks as a free agent in 2010. He was coming off a career-high season in Rockford, where he was a plus-16 with three goals and 22 assists.
Until the Canucks picked him up, it looked like he was a candidate for captaincy of the IceHogs and an occasional seat on the I-90 shuttle. Instead, Vancouver has given Stanton his first extended spin in the NHL. He's certainly taken advantage.
Stanton has played in all 24 games this season for the Canucks. Averaging just under 14 minutes a game, he is Vancouver's sixth defenseman. However, he is second among Canucks defensemen in scoring behind Kevin Bieksa with 10 points (1 goal, 9 assists). Stanton's plus-five rating is also second on the team behind Bieksa.
Losing Stanton, especially to the Canucks, still stings a bit. With Kostka out and Rozsival being banged up at times this season, he could have been an insurance policy for the Blackhawks. From the standpoint of the player, things have worked out well for Stanton.
For a guy who came up through the WHL and was not a touted prospect following his junior career, Stanton has made the most of his opportunity. He's getting minutes in the NHL and has shown he deserves those minutes with some quality play.
Chicago's loss has certainly been Stanton's gain, as well as his new club.