The Chicago Blackhawks acquired an old Stanley Cup-winning friend late Thursday night when they traded for Kris Versteeg from the Florida Panthers.
We’ve written, and will continue to write, what the Blackhawks have gained with this move. But what about what they lost? Considering their depth, ultimately, the Blackhawks didn’t give up much to get Versteeg back in their uniform.
The Blackhawks sent forward Jimmy Hayes and defenseman Dylan Olsen to the Panthers in their deal for Versteeg last night. Additionally, as general manager Stan Bowman stated last night, the Panthers will still pay half of Versteeg’s remaining contract, the Blackhawks taking the other half.
[MORE: Blackhawks acquire Kris Versteeg from Panthers]
But let’s get back to the two departed players, Hayes and Olsen. Both have gotten their opportunities with the Blackhawks at different times, but neither made enough of an impact to stay with the team.
Yes, the Blackhawks are deep, and it’s easy to say, “well, these two just couldn’t crack the Blackhawks’ roster.” Here’s the thing: if you’re good enough, you do crack this roster. Brandon Saad did it last season and has become a budding NHL star. Andrew Shaw did it as a twice-passed-over-in-the-draft guy (a fifth-round selection). You can separate yourself from any roster, deep or otherwise, if the talent is there.
Hayes looked to be doing that right out of training camp in September. He looked quicker, at least in that first week at Notre Dame. But he wasn’t showing that same edge, that same speed, once the preseason and regular-season games began.
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Olsen looked to be the Blackhawks’ up-and-coming defenseman in 2011-12, when he played 28 games for the team. Then he fell off some, the Blackhawks got some veterans along the blue line (Sheldon Brookbank and Michal Rozsival) who did the job better and others in the system began to emerge. Adam Clendening has been one of those rising Rockford stars. Bowman talked about how the current depth allowed the team to part with Hayes and Olsen.
“We’ve seen some young players emerge this year in Rockford, which has given us ability to move two payers,” he said. “Both will be good NHL players, and we certainly wish them well. But we’ve seen some young defensemen come in, (Viktor) Svedberg, (Klas) Dahlbeck and Clendening. Last year, Adam was a great rookie and the other two have had great starts. We have some first-year players who are having good starts. Although we’re giving up two young players, we have some even younger ones than that showing good signs.”
The first thought whenever prospects are given away is that a team is losing something. The Blackhawks lose a little, but they still have plenty.