On Monday morning in Part One of our Summer Trade Analysis series, we examined the statistical differences between three players: former Blackhawks Kris Versteeg and Andrew Ladd, and current Hawks forward Viktor Stalberg. Monday afternoon, in Part Two, we looked at the differences between departed champions John Madden and Colin Fraser versus their replacements, Fernando Pisani and Jake Dowell.
Now, in Part Three, we’ll examine two more players that were part of Chicago GM Stan Bowman’s summer decision making process. Again, the stats (and ages) represented are through Nov. 15.
Player A: Nick Boynton
Player B: Brent Sopel
Of course Boynton wasn’t a summer acquisition; he played in seven regular season games for the Hawks last year after being acquired from Anaheim for future considerations on March 3rd. When the trade happened, Boynton was in the AHL and reported to Rockford before being promoted to the NHL. However, he was a free agent this summer and Bowman needed to make a decision about how he would fill the bottom pair on the Blackhawks’ blue line.
Looking at these numbers, we see a similar difference with Sopel as we did with Ladd and Versteeg: Atlanta is using him in a way that he wouldn’t be used in Chicago. Sopel is the Thrashers’ leading penalty killer this year based on average short-handed ice time per game, a designation he certainly wouldn’t have in Chicago with the Hawks’ top four staying intact from last season.
However, when you look at the rest of the numbers for these two veterans, they are strikingly similar. While Boynton has taken a few more penalties (some of which have come at critically bad times), the blocked shots numbers are almost identical and Boynton has been the more physical player. The number that honestly surprised me was Boynton’s seven takeaways already this year, a strong number for a third pair defenseman.
Of course the biggest number that we see from this breakdown is the salaries. Boynton is giving the Blackhawks pretty much what they would have expected to get from Sopel every night, but he’s doing it for 21 percent of the cost.
Yet again, we see that Bowman was able to work within the budget he was handed by the NHL’s salary cap and replaced a departed veteran with a more than adequate substitute.