Just as the team moves quickly on the ice, Blackhawks management moves impressively fast as well. Less than a week after they won the Stanley Cup, the Blackhawks have parted ways with Dave Bolland and Michael Frolik.
Both players scored on the Cup-clinching play, just 17 seconds after Bryan Bickell’s game-tying goal, as Frolik assisted on Bolland’s game-winner. As it turns out, these three names would be tied to one another again, just six days later.
Bickell earned himself a healthy free agent contract during the playoffs, and GM Stan Bowman freed up the cap space to resign Bickell almost immediately. By parting ways with Bolland and Frolik, Bowman was able to ink Bickell to a four-year deal, keeping him in a Blackhawks uniform through the 2017 season for $16 million.
Although this was Frolik’s first full season with the Blackhawks, he was an important playoff contributor in both 2012 and 2013, as well as a staple on the Blackhawks’ elite penalty kill over this season.
Bolland surely holds a more special place in Hawks fans’ hearts, as this was his second Stanley Cup with the team. His play in 2010 was a large part of the team’s success as he was a major contributor in the playoffs, helping the Blackhawks win their first Cup since 1961. Then, he added this year’s game-winner in Boston to cap-off one of the most historic, and swift, comebacks of all time. His place in Blackhawks history cannot be questioned.
Bolland brought the Blackhawks plenty in return, however. His hometown team, the Toronto Maple Leaves, sent the 51st and 117th picks of this year’s draft, and a fourth-rounder in 2014, to Chicago in return for the center.
With the 51st overall pick acquired in the trade, the Blackhawks drafted Carl Dahlstrom, a 6-3, 191 pound defenseman from Sweden. The Blackhawks then moved up in the fourth round by trading the 117th and 151st picks to the San Jose Sharks for the 111th slot, and a fifth round pick next year. With that 111th pick, the Blackhawks selected another Swedish defenseman, Robin Norell.
Frolik, meanwhile, is headed to the Winnipeg Jets, who acquired the winger for their 74th and 134th picks in the 2013 draft. With those picks, the Blackhawks selected American centers John Hayden (74th) and Luke Johnson (134th).
Many thought Bickell would be overpaid by some eager team this offseason, leaving the Blackhawks in the process. While the Blackhawks may have ended up being that team, this was an overall subtle move made by Bowman. The Blackhawks get to keep a blossoming player, while restocking the barracks for future seasons t the same time.
The vacancies left by Bolland an Frolik will be filled by those prospects already in the Blackhawks system, poised and ready to make an impact on the 2013-14 roster. Ben Smith, Brandon Pirri, Jeremy Morin and Jimmy Hayes all stand as possible options right now. Furthermore, the continued development of players such as Marcus Kruger and Brandon Saad will only make this transition smoother.
As it stands right now, Bowman is doing a stellar job already this offseason. No one knows how productive Bolland and Frolik will be on their new teams, and one must hope that Bickell has truly taken the next step, and will match his contract with consistent on-ice production. No matter what happens, Bowman received a wealth of young talent with Sunday’s trades.
After all the trade-dust had settled, the Blackhawks had given up Bolland, Frolik and a fourth and fifth round pick this year for a pick in each of the second through fifth rounds this year, a fourth and a fifth rounder in 2014… plus four more years of Bryan Bickell. That simply sounds smart.
While a repeat Championship in the NHL is incredibly hard to accomplish, keeping a key piece in Bickell is something the Blackhawks could not afford to do with similar free agents after the 2010 season. Moving two replaceable, albeit loved, players to do so, while also acquiring a small stockpile of talent, is the way to give yourself a chance to repeat.
Bolland and, to a lesser extent, Frolik, will be missed, but the hopes of building an enduring dynasty are ushered in upon their exits.