The 2015-16 Blackhawks will take the ice tonight for their first preseason game at the United Center vs. The Detroit Red Wings. The Hawks were very busy in the offseason, pharmacy and tonight their roster will look a bit different.
The Hawks made a lot of difficult decisions in the offseason; some involved trading some fan favorites away. Here are some of the faces we said goodbye to and the new faces that will try and fill their shoes.
Brandon Saad is a brilliant player who has shown a ton of potential in his short NHL career with the Blackhawks. However, he was dealt to the Columbus Blue Jackets in a surprising, shocking, mouth to the floor move that also included Alex Broadhurst and Michael Paliotta. In exchange, the Blackhawks received Artem Anisimov (more on him later), Jeremy Morin (Not Coach Q’s, favorite or mine) Corey Tropp, Marko Dano and a fourth-round pick for the 2016 draft. After the deal, the Blue Jackets signed Saad to a $36 million deal over six seasons.
The Blackhawks have no issues with goalie duo Corey Crawford and Scott Darling, therefore Antti Raanta was the odd man out. He was set to be the starter in Rockford for the IceHogs, but instead, he will be Henrik Lundqvist’s backup in New York. Raanta was sent to the Rangers in exchange for forward prospect Ryan Haggerty, who spent the 2014-15 season with the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL.
The dealing of Patrick Sharp was the trade that broke ladies hearts around Chicago. Has much as I hate to say it, we all knew that the Hawks were going to move Sharp and his $5.9 million cap hit. Sharp was packaged with defensive prospect Stephen Johns, and the duo was sent to the Dallas Stars in exchange for Trevor Daley and Ryan Garbutt, and the return is being described as crap. If you break this deal down it only saved the Hawks $1.7 million in cap space, and the acquisition of Garbutt is noteworthy, seeing that the Hawks re-signed Andrew Desjardins who plays the same style of hockey.
Artem Anisimov was a main piece in the Brandon Saad trade. Anisimov will replace the hole left by Brad Richards, and coincidentally, it is a role reverse for the 27-year-old center. Richards took Anisimov’s spot in the lineup as a second-line center when he signed with the New York Rangers in 2011, and the following summer Anisimov was traded. Anisimov is already posting 40 points a season as a center, and you can expect him to see a jump in points when if he plays with Kaner.
The Hawks signed KHL winger Viktor Tikhonov from SKA Saint Petersburg, returning the 27-year-old to the NHL after a six-year absence. He spent 61 games with the Phoenix Coyotes and went to the KHL after spending three years in the AHL. The 6’2″, 183-pound winger tallied 69 goals and 61 assists for 130 points in 207 games, and he will get a chance to play in the top nine for the Hawks, realistically a low risk sign that can turn out to be something huge.
In a nut shell the Blackhawks traded Patrick Sharp, Antti Raanta, Michael Paliotta, Anders Nilsson, Kris Versteeg, and Brandon Saad for assets, and lost Brad Richards, Antoine Vermette, and Johnny Oduya to free agency. The Blackhawks re-signed Andrew Desjardins and added Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Ryan Garbutt, Trevor Daley and a few other prospects who will start out in the AHL.
It will be interesting to see how these off season moves pay off for the Blackhawks, one thing is for sure when the puck drops tonight it will be odd not seeing Sharp, Saad and Oduya. However, Stan knows what he is doing and I can’t wait to get the season started and to capture the cup once again. Go Hawks!