The Chicago Blackhawks' front office promised an offseason of change after the team was swept in the opening round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. That promise was kept on a franchise-altering Friday with two blockbuster deals.
Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, a 2005 4th round pick by the Blackhawks, was dealt to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for defenseman Connor Murphy and forward Laurent Dauphin. Hjalmarsson spent his entire career in the Blackhawks organization, playing parts of two seasons with the Rockford IceHogs before becoming a mainstay on the Chicago blue line, winning three Stanley Cups. Hjalmarsson holds the franchise record for most playoff games played by a defenseman, and had two years remaining on his current contract before Friday's trade.
The second trade executed by Stan Bowman came almost immediately after the first. Artemi Panarin, Tyler Motte, and a sixth-round pick in the 2017 draft were sent to the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Blackhawks received Brandon Saad, goalie Anton Forsberg, and a fifth-round pick in the 2018 draft.
The Columbus-Chicago trade brings Saad back to the Blackhawks, where he won two Stanley Cups, playing primarily with captain Jonathan Toews on the team's top line. Saad was Chicago's second-round selection in the 2011 draft, developed with the Rockford IceHogs, and played four seasons for the Blackhawks before he was traded to the Blue Jackets.
Panarin's two seasons in Chicago netted 61 goals and 90 assists, winning the Calder Memorial Trophy last year as the NHL's top rookie. Motte spent most of his tenure in the organization splitting time with the IceHogs and Blackhawks after playing in college at Michigan.