Now that the All-Star game has passed, NHL trade rumors will start to surface with the trade deadline only a month away. As discussed on Episode 17 of Four Feathers, the Blackhawks will likely be looking to move a defenseman from their crowded blue line. Anything can happen in the coming weeks so there will be more to come on that front as rumors materialize. However, this post is all about evaluating the trades that the Blackhawks have already made so far this season by checking in on the status of each player involved.
Nick Schmaltz for Dylan Strome and Brendan Perlini
Date of Trade: November 25, 2018
This trade was a swap of guys who needed changes of scenery. Although that cliche gets thrown around frequently without basis, it was warranted in this case.
Nick Schmaltz: After posting a 52-point campaign in just his second season with the Blackhawks, hopes were high for Nick Schmaltz. He got off to a slow start this season, posting just two goals and nine assists through 23 games with Chicago. Beyond the numbers, he simply did not appear to give a shit. Lazy backchecks, not utilizing his speed on zone entries, drifting in the defensive zone, and appearing to be miserable on the ice and the bench were common occurrences at the beginning of this season. After being moved to Arizona, Schmaltz had a bump in production. He posted five goals and nine assists through 17 games before a knee injury prematurely ended his season. It's an unfortunate situation and I wish him a full recovery and best of luck in the future, but it's just better for everyone that he's no longer a member of the Blackhawks. Schmaltz himself even hinted at a rift with Chicago in an interview two days after being traded. See for yourself:
Sureeeee, the Blackhawks didn't want one of their top young players to succeed. So yeah, he needed a change of scenery. Adios, Nick Schmaltz.
Dylan Strome: After being drafted third overall by the Coyotes in 2015, Strome was expected to be a mainstay of the young Arizona core going forward. He posted ten points in just 28 games between his 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons. In his first full-time NHL campaign, he notched three goals and three assists while averaging just 13:32 TOI through 20 games with the Coyotes. Not exactly the type of impact Arizona expected from a top-three pick. After being traded to the Blackhawks, Strome has found a regular, comfortable role at second-line center, where he has posted nine goals and 12 assists while averaging 17:21 TOI through 27 games. He has also fulfilled a role on the revitalized Hawks power play that Artem Anisimov struggled with: providing a net-front presence while also having the hands and vision to keep pucks alive and serve as a legitimate scoring threat.
In addition to being more comfortable on the ice, he has also been reunited with former OHL teammate Alex DeBrincat. The two had incredible chemistry during their days with the Erie Otters, where they were roommates. Strome has benefitted on all fronts after the move to Chicago.
Brendan Perlini: This is an intricate case with a number of factors to consider. Perlini posted 17 goals and 13 assists in a solid sophomore campaign for the Coyotes last season. Early on in 2018-19, his production slowed when he put up just two goals and four assists while averaging 13:41 TOI through 22 games with Arizona. Since being traded, he has posted three goals and one assist in 23 games while averaging just 9:56 TOI with the Hawks. Part of his struggles can be attributed to deployment - 50.5% of his zone starts have come in the defensive zone with Chicago compared to just 38% with Arizona. To make matters worse, he has been in concussion protocol since January 18th after being run into the boards by Adam McQuaid. He did skate with the team but didn't play last Tuesday, so hopefully that means he will healthy coming out of the All-Star break. At 6'3", 211 pounds, Perlini has the build of a power forward. If he can use his size and strength to his advantage, I think he can be an effective bottom-six forward. I would like to see the Hawks continue to give him a chance so they can evaluate what he brings to the table since he will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season. In conclusion, the jury is still out on Brendan Perlini. All we know for sure is that his celly game is STRONG.
Brandon Manning and Robin Norell for Drake Caggiula and Jason Garrison
Date of Trade: December 30, 2018
The Hawks cleared an overpaid defenseman who was a regular healthy scratch in exchange for a project of a young forward.
Brandon Manning: Moving Manning's $2.25 million cap hit for this season and next was a huge win for Stan Bowman and the Blackhawks. Manning posted just one goal, two assists and a 47.2% Corsi-for while averaging 15:28 TOI in 27 games with Chicago. He last played in a game for the Hawks on December 12th before being a healthy scratch for eight consecutive contests. The return of Connor Murphy definitely played a role in Manning being booted from the defensive rotation, but his performance was the main determinant in head coach Jeremy Colliton's decision to scratch him over that stretch. Since landing in Edmonton, Manning has posted one goal, zero assists, and a 47.4% Corsi-for while averaging 14:00 TOI in eight games. He has also been a healthy scratch four times with his new team, so there's that. Bowman was able to take advantage of the Oilers while Peter Chiarelli was still the general manager, and for that we are thankful.
Robin Norell: The Swedish defenseman never cracked double-digit points in his time as a member of the Blackhawks system. He spent parts of three seasons with the IceHogs and has since been loaned to Djurgårdens IF of the Swedish Hockey League. He was nothing more than a throw-in piece to complete this trade. The Hawks lost nothing from a farm system that has a surplus of defensemen.
Drake Caggiula: Dumping Manning's cap hit was a huge win, but a young forward with untapped potential makes this deal even sweeter. Caggiula posted seven goals and four assists while averaging 14:03 TOI through 29 games with Edmonton in 2018-19. Since joining the Hawks, he only has one assist while averaging 14:16 TOI through eight games. In his first six contests with Chicago, he was playing in the bottom six, but he was elevated to the first line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane in the final two games before the All-Star break. With two world-class players on his line, Caggiula has a lot more flexibility. While he brings a physical presence, he also possesses the handiwork necessary to be a contributing factor on the top line. It will be interesting to see how he performs in that role going forward. Caggiula's contract carries a $1.5 million cap hit that runs through next season so he will have some time to prove himself.
Jason Garrison: Like Norell, Garrison was simply a throw-in to complete the deal between Edmonton and Chicago. With an already crowded Blackhawks blue line, the veteran was assigned to Rockford immediately following the trade. He did not report to the IceHogs, so he was placed on unconditional waivers for his contract to be terminated.
2019 Fifth Round Draft Pick for Dominik Kubalík
Date of Trade: January 24, 2019
The most recent Blackhawks transaction sent a previously acquired draft pick to the Kings for a Swiss League prospect.
2019 Fifth Round Draft Pick: This pick was originally acquired from Arizona over the summer as part of the return in the Hossa/Oesterle/Hinostroza deal.
Dominik Kubalík: The 23-year old left winger was drafted in the seventh round (191st overall) by the Kings in 2013. He has posted 19 goals and 25 assists through 38 games with HC Ambrì Piotta of the National League in Switzerland, where he will finish the season. He was teammates with current Hawks forward Dominik Kahun (eerily similar names, right?) while playing for the OHL Sundbury Wolves from 2012 through 2014. We will have to wait until training camp in the fall to find out if he could factor into a future Blackhawks lineup.
Overall, Stan Bowman has made trades that have positively affected the Blackhawks on-ice performance and salary cap situation so far this season. It's still too early to tell if these moves are "total wins" for the Hawks, but that's why we're here keeping tabs on all the pieces involved. Bowman is probably not done trading as the NHL trade deadline falls on February 28. If you want to hear our predictions for who may be on the move in the coming weeks, be sure to tune into Episode 17 of Four Feathers.
Featured Photo: NHL.com