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?
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.