Champion Blackhawks Two Years Later: Looking Back At Post-Cup Trades

It has been two years since the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, and the dismantling series of trades that immediately followed the championship.

With two full seasons now in the books, how did the Blackhawks do in the trades that broke up the Cup team? Let’s take a look.

  • TRADE ONE: F Kris Versteeg and F Billy Sweatt traded to Toronto for F Viktor Stalberg, F Philippe Paradis and F Chris DiDomenico.

Versteeg has actually been traded two more times since this deal, once to Philly and again to Florida. Sweatt actually played professional hockey in Chicago this year… for the AHL’s Chicago Wolves. While Paradis and DiDomenico spent the 2011-12 season playing for Rockford (DiDomenico spent 17 games with Toledo), Stalberg emerged this season with 22 goals for the Blackhawks.

  • TRADE TWO: F/D Dustin Byfuglien, F Ben Eager, D Brent Sopel and F Akim Aliu traded to Atlanta for F Marty Reasoner, F Joey Crabb, F Jeremy Morin and New Jersey’s 1st and 2nd round picks in 2010 – #26 (F Kevin Hayes) and #54 (D Justin Holl).

The biggest loser in this deal: Atlanta. Because they didn’t deserve a hockey team to begin with.

Byfuglien has moved to the blue line full-time, has been an All-Star, and signed a five-year, $26M contract with the Jets. He has posted 53 points in back-to-back seasons, but reached that number despite being limited to 66 games this season. He set a career-low with a minus-eight rating this year, though.

Eager, Sopel and Aliu made little/no impact on the Thrashers/Jets organization, and none of them is still with that franchise.

The Hawks immediately dumped Reasoner and Crabb for nothing, leaving the team with three prospects: Morin, Kevin Hayes and Holl. Holl and the younger Hayes were both playing in college this year, and both advanced well in the NCAA tournament. Morin was in Rockford again, but might get a chance at the NHL in 2012-13.

  • TRADE THREE: F Colin Fraser traded to Edmonton for a 6th round pick in 2010 (F Mirko Hofflin)

Fraser was banged up in Edmonton and eventually traded to LA. Hofflin had 42 points in 59 games with Acadie-Bathurst of the QMJHL this year.

  • TRADE FOUR: F Andrew Ladd traded to Atlanta for D Ivan Vishnevskiy and a 2nd round pick in 2011 (#36 overall – D Adam Clendening)

This is the deal that raises the most immediate fire from Hawks fans, but then carries the most long-term intrigue.

Right away, Ladd-for-Vishnevskiy is an enormous bust. I’m not willing to call it Espo-to-Boston 2.0, but it’s up there with the worst deals in team history on paper. Ladd is the captain of the Jets and, after scoring 37 goals in three years in Chicago, has scored 57 goals in two years with the Thrashers/Jets.

Vishnevskiy was brought in to be a puck-moving defenseman, but Nick Leddy sprinted past him to the NHL roster. He was a scratch for a big part of his one year in Rockford, and is now back in Russia.

But the long-term potential of this deal is what makes it so fascinating. The organization has fallen in love with Clendening, and rightfully so. Named a Hockey East First Team All-Star after posting 33 points in 39 games for Boston University, Clendening plays a physical game but also handles the puck well.

If Clendening eventually becomes the top-four defenseman most analysts project he could be, the spin on this deal is different than it is now.

So, ultimately, what did the Blackhawks do that summer?

  • OUT:
    Kris Versteeg
    Dustin Byfuglien
    Andrew Ladd
    Ben Eager
    Colin Fraser
    Brent Sopel
    Akim Aliu
    Billy Sweatt
  • IN:
    Viktor Stalberg
    Kevin Hayes
    Adam Clendening
    Justin Holl
    Philippe Paradis
    Chris DiDomenico
    Mirko Hofflin

Those aren’t the only trades made by GM Stan Bowman that summer. While he was unloading key pieces of the Cup team, he was also swapping draft picks and prospects in other deals.

Three trades made during the 2010 NHL Draft that didn’t involve any players in the Hawks organization brought Jimmy Hayes over from Toronto as well as the picks that were ultimately used on Brandon Saad, Ludvig Rensfeldt, Kent Simpson and Michael Paliotta.

So where are we at, today, two full seasons out of the heart-breaking summer of 2010? Three former Hawks had 50-point seasons in 2011-12 (Versteeg, Ladd and Byfuglien). One, Fraser, is still alive in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Hawks have Stalberg and his 22-goal season to show for the trades at the NHL level… for now. But four of the organizations top 25 prospects were added to the mix because of those deals. And four more top prospects were added in draft trades that summer.

Certainly the wounds of that summer’s deals haven’t fully healed after a couple first round playoff exits. But the future of the organization is tied to the players that are now part of the system because of those moves.

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28 Responses to Champion Blackhawks Two Years Later: Looking Back At Post-Cup Trades

  1. SouthSideHawkMan says:

    The worst part about the Ladd trade is Ladd is young player despite having accomplishing alot in his career. He is 26, is a captain and is a 2 times Cup winner. As you said before one of the worst trades in Hawks history.

  2. Scott says:

    Isnt there more to the Ladd trade? We need to consider his free agency status and the contract he signed. I recall he was a free agent or soon to be, and his current salary at $4.4 million, is at least no bargain compared to his contribution. All of the hawks trades of the last two years MUST be considered in terms of managing the salary cap. Would we be happy with Ladd taking up $4.4 m of our cap space given the player he is? In my mind, given the physicality element and leadership he brings, the answer is “maybe”. That’s a lot of cap space for a non-core player.

  3. Scott says:

    Though I do think one of the hawks biggest needs is a physical wing or center to play with and protect Kane. Think Al Secord. Maybe Ladd is that player.

  4. Peter says:

    In all honesty Scott is probably correct in his assessment. The Hawks had to make moves due to the cap. Ladd is the one player who is gone whom I miss the most, but 4.4 million is a ton of money and he would never have gotten that deal from the Hawks. He would have walked and we would have gotten nothing for him (potentially).

    I lived in Raleigh when the Canes won the cup…I am amazed they never locked up Ladd long term, but he started to disappoint and was not as consistent until his trade to the Hawks.

    The 2009-2010 3rd Line on the Hawks was so great. People think that line was so tough and could rough up another team’s first line which they could, but they were also so skilled to be able to make the opposing team’s first line have to play in their own zone. I really think that is what made that line so effective…defensively solid and offensively solid.

  5. Tab Bamford says:

    For those mentioning the Campbell trade, that didn’t happen in the summer of 2010 and had already been writtern about.

  6. Mark Lamont says:

    Ladd was destined to leave,he wanted a bigger role than utility scorer,he wanted to eventually be a captain somewhere,and it wasn’t going to happen in Chicago…..

  7. Brad Stevenson says:

    I think that is a very fair analysis Tab…we got creamed, for sure, but there wasn’t a lot Bowman could do either…so much will depend on how these picks turn out…Saad, Morin and Clendening being keys in my opinion.

    But Andrew Ladd was the player we could have kept and the one that stings the most…he had won 2 Cups at that point, was a great forechecker, was physical and was tough as nails…you don’t trade away Captain material, you just don’t. I honestly believe that once Bowman got on a roll with the deals, he had a hard time stopping and went one bridge too far.

    Thanks.

  8. Gou says:

    Tab, Well done as always. Excellent review that most Hawk fans do not even know.

    Brad, I agree about Ladd. I have mentioned a couple of times in other posts the quality that Ladd brought to the rink. Those intangibles are what make championships.

    Only time will tell what the kids will bring to the team.

  9. Pete says:

    I appreciate people complaining about the Ladd trade. But everyone I know is unhappy with the trade of Big Buff and we also lost Eager in that deal. We got Morin who may pay out and Hayes who may pan out but is a long way off. I never heard of Holl. I think Buff was under contract for one more year so we could have kept him for that year even if we eventually lost him to free agency. I understand the point of getting picks while he has value, but the fact is we needed him last year. So I don’t like the deal. Buff was a core player we gave up and in my view we should have kept him.

  10. Tab Bamford says:

    Pete: the Blackhawks could have only kept Byfuglien if they had moved another player, most likely Sharp. Whether or not he was under contract means less than the reality that there is a legitimate salary cap in the NBA. & Eager… Really?

  11. Pete says:

    Tab, what was Buff’s salary for the last year of his contract i.e 2011. I think it was less than 1 million, but I would defer to you on that. If his salary was as low as I think it was for that one year then why couldn’t we have kept him for that one year and dumped other salary. And I always liked Ben Eager as a role player. I think we still miss him IMO. I’m interested on Buff’s salary for 2011. Do you know the number?

  12. Tab Bamford says:

    The last deal Byfuglien has w/ the Blackhawks had a cap number of $3M. You’re confusing Buff w/ Eager, Fraser & Burish… He was already getting paid.

  13. Pete says:

    Thanks Tab, that is higher than I thought. However, I still think the Hawks made a calculated gamble that Buff’s value was peaking and with the salary cap issues it made sense to move him then for picks etc. I realize this is hindsight, but we kept Hammer for 3.5 million I recall.(fact check me on that) I realize its more complicated than that, but my point is that Buff was a big part of the identity of the team and a top and unique type player and I think he should have been kept and others let go if necessary due to the salary cap. We could have kept him by making him a priority over other players and I think subsequent events have proven that we should have. Its hindsight, but thats the deal that bugs me the most. Do you agree or disagree with me on that with the benefit of hindsight on how the players have done since the trade.

  14. Tab Bamford says:

    Pete: I’ve actually written about this a few times, and invite you to refresh your memory by looking at the tab for the History of Bowman as GM. Fans conveniently don’t remember the chronology of events in 2010, which kills perspective.

    Hjalmarsson’s offer sheet came AFTER the other trades had already been made. Byfuglien, Eager, Versteeg, Sopel… All gone BEFORE Hjalmarsson further complicated things. So you can’t appropriately say the organization chose Hjalm over Buff for the same $ when they didn’t expect the offer sheet, and Buff was gone already.

  15. Pete says:

    Fair point but the Hawks did choose to leave Buff outside the core and that is the decision I am questioning in hindsight. The team did not put the priority on him, which in hindsight it should have. That’s what I am saying. Do you agree or disagree with that point? They could have kept him and traded someone else and for one year 3M was a lot but not impossible to manage. I am suggesting they should have kept him and signed him eventually to a long term deal and traded other players to make room for him? What do you think?

  16. Andrew H says:

    interesting thoughts, Tab and well written as usual. I agree with Brad, SB made a huge mistake by shipping Ladd out of town. He and Bolland formed one of the best 3rd lines in NHL history (i’m exaggerating a bit, but they did a heck of a job). They were the backbone of the Hawks and executed Q’s game plan (transition hockey) to perfection. Any player who had the privilege to play on their line could be happy about that opportunity (Steeger, Havlat). I claim that Skille would’ve blossomed on a line with Bolly and Ladder a year after hoisting the cup, but we’ll never find out.
    Anyways, we have to focus on the future, wishful sinful thinking doesn’t cut it. Keep the faith, Hawks fans and have a great summer!

  17. Andrew H says:

    forget the “sinful” ^^

  18. Tab Bamford says:

    Pete: I do disagree onByfuglien being part of the core, and wrote an extensive article on the choice that, at that time, had to be made: Sharp vs Byfuglien. I would keep Sharp 10 times outta 10 then and still would today. Furthermore, Byfuglien was never going to be a 22 min/gm defenseman w/ no concern for his own zone in Chicago, so the assumption he would have been the same guy here he has been for the Thrashers/Jets is naïve.

  19. Pete says:

    Ok, I appreciate your point. However, I would have kept him for 2011 and then see how the year went. I think we could have kept Sharp and Byfuglien for 2011. If your committed to keeping Byfuglien for 2011 then you ultimatley lose Hjalmarsson when SJ signs him, likely lose Niemi and don’t sign Turco. I realize that they didn’t expect SJ to sign Hjalmarsson, but if they were committed to keep Byfuglien so what and we lose Hjalmarsson when SJ signs him. I think they they thought they could get max value for Byfuglien at the time and ease the salary cap problem at the same time and I think that was a mistake in hindsight. So thats my two cents.

  20. Tab Bamford says:

    Sorry, Pete, but there’s no way the Hawks could have kept Byfuglien & Sharp another year under the cap. Not without losing a more important core player like Seabrook.

  21. Pete says:

    They ended up paying Hammer 3.5M and Byfuglien was set to make 3M in 2011 and Sharp stayed regardless. I realize they didn’t expect the San Jose move, but that would not have mattered if they were committed to Byfuglien playing out his contract in 2011. That move affects Hammer. Its academic now anyway.

  22. wall says:

    Pete, I see your logic… Tab, right that Hawks didn’t foresee the Sharks forcing the Hawks to overpay for Hjammer… but that is the fault of the Hawks Organization…

    they wanted to keep both Hjammer and Niemi… so they quickly got rid of Buff because he had a great scoring Post-season, and planned on getting both Niemi and Hjammer.
    But ultimately the plan backfired…. cuz of Sharks… and Hawks lost big, overpaying Hjammer, lost Niemi…

    So Tab, they really could have kept Buff, would have lost Hjammer and maybe another low level scrub… the next year would have been the issue… but if Buff played/scored poorly w/ shitty Hawks that year… maybe they could have signed him longer… maybe not!

  23. Scott says:

    Really tough 20/20 hindsight on Buff. He’s making $5.2 M on a long term contract today. When he was traded, most would have agreed he was getting moved at the top of his game, thought admittedly some would disagree. But certainly, he has met or exceeded all expectations as the player he is today. So having reached this level of production, how do you compare him to Dunc and Seabs, both long term $5M guys? My point is that they traded him for good value, he then hit the highest high you could have predicted, and that high level is priced in the contract the Jets are paying…no bargain. He’s over performed the expectation, and I feel ok about the trade. If he had reverted to the undisciplined, man without a position player, we’d feel great about this trade.

  24. Scott says:

    Tab, here’s your next article: despite the Suter thoughts, I believe what the hawks need are 3 new players each with a maximum cap price of $4 M:

    1. A wing with some size, moxey and scoring ability to skate with and act as protection for Kane. Think Al Secord.
    2. A 2nd line C between Hoss and Sharp, smart and creative, good at the dot. Good PK guy.
    3. A D with size, a bit of a mean streak, and a heavy blue line shot for the PP.

    I think the Hawks have all the $5-6M core guys they need. They’ve clearly got a strong stable of youth to fill out the lineup. But they need these three guys.

    To get these three, they can trade Hammer and Bolland. Montador and Olsen are my 5/6 D, to be supplemented by some depth and competition there.

    Do an article on those three positions. Identify those targets. But not core guys and not core pay. I wonder a lot if Carbomb can find one level more discipline to become that Kane winger.

  25. Pete says:

    Scott and Wall I agree with your analysis of the Hawks choices on Buff. My opinion is that he is a unique type player we should have committed to. Maybe I’m wrong but thats my opinion. I also have trouble with the analysis of overpaying for somebody that is good vs overpaying for somebody who is bad/useless. Point being I would rather overpay Campbell(who is good) than overpay Brunette and Montador who are bad. IMO lets pay the good players even if it means overpaying a bit and stay away from overpaying bad players. In otherwords lets risk overpaying Buff and make up for that by not paying Montador and Brunette anything.

  26. Pete says:

    So following up on my last post in hindsight I would have kept Buff for 2011 and risked losing Hammer and Niemi and then tried to sign Byfuglien longer term starting in 2012 and not signed Montador, Brunette, Odonnell etc. We then would have had to use younger players and hoped they grew into the job. Its complete hindsight with the benefit of knowing how it turned out(2 first round playoff exits/free agents were bad and Buff good), but that was the point of your article i.e to judge the trades in hindsight and that is how all GM’s are judged in sports. I realize the younger players acquired in the Byfuglien deal could turn out well so the analysis is not complete. I urge the Hawks to sign and keep good players regardless if you have to overpay to a degree and stay away from players that cost millions and are bad. Its an obvious point but it didn’t happen this year.

  27. David E. says:

    The trades were made due to salary reasons, and winning the cup was great. My issue with Bowman is that he riding his old man’s coat tails. He had little hockey experience other than being Scotty Bowman’s son.

  28. Pete says:

    Just read that suddenly the Phoenix Coyotes are being bought from the League by a group that is keeping them in Phoenix. Gee all they needed was a little playoff success to get the deal done and help the League. Boy I thought that series with the Hawks was called fairly-NOT.

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