A day after the Chicago Blackhawks made Brent Seabrook a $6.875 million healthy scratch, GM Stan Bowman made a move that reminded the hockey world that he’s still one of the NHL’s nimblest minds.
The fact that he made a promising move with the Arizona Coyotes after a Connor Murphy – Niklas Hjalmarsson trade that didn’t work out very well (for either side, really) only adds icing to the cake for Blackhawks fans.
Here are the official terms:
Blackhawks receive: Anthony Duclair and Adam Clendening.
Coyotes get: Richard Panik and Laurent Dauphin.
The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reports that no salary was retained in the trade.
The biggest names here are Duclair and Panik. With LeBrun reporting that no salary was retained in the deal, it seems like it’s either a solid win or a significant win for the Blackhawks; that all depends upon how Duclair handles the change of scenery he requested.
Objectively, Duclair is younger (22) and cheaper than Panik (26). Panik’s cap hit is $2.8 million through 2018-19, while Duclair is a pending RFA with a $1.2M cap hit. The negative side is that Duclair could play exceptionally well and drive up his price, but the struggling Blackhawks would gladly deal with that “problem,” much like they were generally happy to deal with Artemi Panarin being so darn effective.
At the moment, Duclair’s production is more Panik-like than Panarin-like, mind you. There’s actually little separating Duclair’s numbers (15 points in 33 games) from those of Panik (16 points in 37 games).
Duclair’s potential, however, is what makes him very intriguing, especially for a Blackhawks team that’s found more than a few diamonds in the rough over the years.
If you’re a Blackhawks fan who’s already pleased with some elements of the deal, Sportsnet’s Jonathan Willis might make you downright giddy, as he pegged Duclair as the possible hidden gem of the trade market just yesterday:
Duclair looks pretty good at first blush. Last season, which was a mammoth disappointment, he still outperformed the team average. Over 172 games with one of the league’s worst teams, Duclair has actually been on the ice for more goals for than against, which is difficult to do. It’s a massive achievement: Arizona’s goal differential improves by almost a full goal for every hour Duclair plays versus every hour he doesn’t.
While his 2016-17 season was brutal at times, you don’t have to dig into fancy stats to find the only reasons to be excited. Duclair scored 20 goals in 2015-16, his first full season in the NHL, after being involved in the Keith Yandle Rangers trade. His 19-percent shooting percentage indicates there was some luck there, but he was very young, and still is at 22.
Now, the Blackhawks have some problems, and Duclair isn’t the defenseman they likely need the most. There’s also a chance that he’d provide the same production as Panik, as it’s worth doubling back that they’re near equals in at least the simplest stats right now.
Still, there’s an undeniable “nature versus nurture” element to this that could make it very exciting to see how a seemingly more skilled, inarguably younger player might do with more talented people around him. Not to mention a change of pace.
And, hey, at minimum he saves cash-strapped Chicago some money.
You might say Bowman’s back, although he’s been doing this for years.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.