Before the Blackhawks take off on their Circus Trip, here’s some food for thought for their fans.
There continues to be a lot of complaining about players that weren’t kept over the summer. But not enough credit has been given to GM Stan Bowman for the work he did to acquire pieces to keep the team competitive on the ice. Consider this comparison of three players so far this season (stats through Nov. 14):
Player A: Kris Versteeg
Player B: Andrew Ladd
Player C: Viktor Stalberg
Stalberg was acquired this summer with two prospects in the deal that sent Versteeg to Toronto. Ladd was dealt to Atlanta for a prospect as well.
Looking at the numbers, there are some striking parts on this chart. Stalberg is skating the fewest minutes of the three by far, and not nearly as many shifts per night as Ladd and Versteeg are in their new situations. Ladd has been the most productive of the three players on the score sheet, but hasn’t scored a game-winner yet; Stalberg has two. It’s also hard to hold Stalberg’s lack of special teams production against him considering coach Joel Quenneville continues to use other players in front of Stalberg in those situations.
What is surprising is that Stalberg, who had been referred to as “soft” by people in Toronto, has more hits than Ladd so far. Versteeg inability to score has been talked about a lot in Toronto already, and has been a great disappointment for the Leafs.
Considering the money that Versteeg was already making, and that Ladd received as a restricted free agent in Atlanta, and what the Blackhawks are paying Stalberg for his contributions through 20 games of the regular season, Blackhawks fans should feel confident that management is doing an effective job in not only replacing the popular players and even improving the roster around the core superstars that are locked-up long-term.