In 2010, the draft brought a fire sale that was required by the salary cap. Hawks fans had to watch as Kris Versteeg, Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd and other favorites were dealt out of town so the team could afford to keep Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith.
Fast forward three summers and… the story has changed. But, to some, it felt awkwardly familiar.
The 2013 NHL Draft took place in New Jersey on Sunday afternoon – all seven rounds – and the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks were as busy as any team in the league.
After a lockout cut the regular season short, the NHL’s salary cap will come down to $64.3M. The Hawks had some wiggle room after using their compliance buyouts on Steve Montador and Rostislav Olesz, but was still some work to do.
With a few free agents coming up this summer, including Bryan Bickell, Marcus Kruger and Nick Leddy, GM Stan Bowman had to find a way to create a little more cap space only 50 hours after the Stanley Cup rally in Grant Park. As the team prepared to pick players they hope factor into the organization’s successful future, rumors swirled that the team was close to a deal to keep Bickell. But nothing was done.
Looking at the draft – which was touted as arguably the best since the all-time great 2003 class – the Hawks were handicapped; Bowman traded away the team’s second and third round picks at the trade deadline last year to add defenseman Johnny Oduya. Bowman was open with his desire to add picks while trying to find the right players to add to the mix.
And Bowman did some work on Sunday.
Hartman, a Chicago area kid, draws comparisons to Andrew Shaw and Boston’s Brad Marchand. When this pick took place, the Blackhawks were looking at a long break between picks. But that quickly changed.
As the second round got started, the Blackhawks pulled the trigger on their first of three trades during the NHL Draft. Unfortunately, another fan favorite is leaving town quickly after a championship parade. Bolland, a favorite to many in the city, had seen his role cut back to serving as a fourth line center during the postseason, which didn’t justify his salary any longer; Shaw has already replaced him as an agitating third line center.
The Bolland trade brought three draft picks back to the Blackhawks, including a selection in the second round.
Dahlström, a defenseman listed at 6-3 and 191 pounds, is playing in Sweden. His bio is similar to that of Klas Dahlbeck, who the Hawks selected out of Sweden in the third round of the 2011 Draft. Dahlbeck is now in Rockford.
As the dust was settling from the Dahlström pick, the Blackhawks made news once again.
Another member of the Hawks’ fourth line was dealt out of town. Frolik, who emerged as a penalty killing ace while skating with Kruger, was moved to the Jets to add more picks to Bowman’s arsenal on Sunday. Frolik has one year left on his contract, but was making over $2M as a fourth line skater.
In moving Bolland and Frolik, Bowman effectively cleared over $5.7M off the cap without impacting his top three lines. Bowman also added five draft picks in the two trades, giving him an opportunity to add more quality to the organization while clearing cap space to keep more key players in-house moving forward.
Hayden, a center headed to Yale this fall, is listed at 6-2 and 220 pounds. The Hawks used the 74th overall pick, acquired in the Frolik trade, to make this selection.
Quickly after using a pick acquired in the Frolik trade, the Blackhawks used some of the cap space created by Sunday’s trades.
Boom. Four years, $16M and Bickell officially cashes in on a fantastic postseason. While fans watched physical forwards like Byfuglien, Ladd and Brouwer leave over the last three years, Bowman took a significant step in locking-up Bickell on Sunday.
But the deal comes with some question marks.
- In 2007, Nathan Horton (22 at the time) signed a deal w/ a $4M cap hit. He had 59 goals in the two previous seasons.
- In 2012, Wayne Simmonds signed a deal w/ a $3.975 cap hit that begins this fall. He’ll turn 25 this summer, and has 82 career goals.
- In 2013, Bickell (27) signs a deal w/ a $4M cap hit. he has 40 CAREER GOALS, and has never averaged more than 14 minutes per game.
Bickell, who was an overwhelming disappointment during the 2011-12 season, because a hero in the 2013 postseason. Now, he’s getting paid to be a top-six power forward. Bowman is rolling the dice that we’ll see more of the dominant postseason player we witnessed this spring than the guy that had four points in three months last season.
In the wake of the Bickell deal, the Hawks making two picks in the fourth round was overlooked. One of these selections, the one used to pick Norell (111th overall), was acquired in two separate deals. Chicago acquired the 117th overall in the Bolland trade, but moved up six spots to get Norell.
Here’s where the pick used for Norell becomes… comical. The 111th overall selection was originally owned by the San Jose Sharks, but was traded to the Hawks a couple years ago. Bowman traded it back to San Jose for Michal Handzus at the trade deadline this year.
The total trade involving the 111th overall was Chicago sending the 117th and 151st overall selections to San Jose for the 111th overall selection and a fifth round pick in 2014.
In all, the Blackhawks made a selection in all seven rounds on Sunday. Bowman effectively cleared some more cap space by moving Bolland and Frolik that should help the team keep restricted free agents Kruger and Leddy this week. And some good, talented youngsters have been added to the Hawks’ solid organizational depth.
NHL free agency begins on Friday, July 5 this year. The fun has only just begun!