Friday, 10 July 2015

Central Parity

Could we see these two skating together next season? The possibility is very real now that Patrick Sharp is a Dallas Star. The Chicago Blackhawks finally pulled off the trade that was supposed to bring them some salary cap relief only to bring back very little relief in trading away one of their top-six forwards. Patrick Sharp will skate in Dallas next season alongside one of Tyler Seguin or Jason Spezza, and it appears that Chicago will get a little grittier and a little more defensive. However, the salary cap relief that the Blackhawks desperately needed won't appear after this trade.

The Dallas Stars swapped defenceman Trevor Daley and forward Ryan Garbutt for Patrick Sharp and prospect defenseman Stephen Johns in the deal as they continue to bolster their top-six unit. Garbutt is a gritty forward who will certainly make Chicago's third line a little tougher to play against, and Daley is solid defenceman with a big shot who should be a good addition to the Blackhawks' power-play. Johns will bolster a much younger Texas Stars blue line in the AHL while Sharp will play top-six minutes and on the power-play for the Stars.

Where things get a little more complicated is in the money department. Dallas is retaining half of Garbutt's $1.8 million cap hit while Daley has two years remaining at an annual value of $3.3 million for a total of $4.2 million being added to Chicago's bottom line. They'll subtract the two years remaining on Sharp's contract with an average annual value of $5.9 million for a net saving of about $1.7 million. It's still not enough to sign Marcus Kruger who Bowman wants to retain, so there may still be moves to be made as the summer progresses for the Blackhawks.

The other factor in this trade is unrestricted free agent Johnny Oduya who is waiting for Chicago to clear cap space to re-sign with the Hawks. Bringing in Trevor Daley, though, almost makes Oduya expendable as Daley can easily absorb Oduya's minutes while bringing more offence. Defensively, Oduya is the superior defenceman, but Daley has the skill and ability to play a harder game if necessary.

The tough question to answer is why Chicago traded in their own division when Dallas was already one of the teams who appeared to be on the rise. They already added a Stanley Cup-winning goalie in Antti Niemi through free agency, and now they have Patrick Sharp to help the top-six score a little more. The other five teams in the Central Division couldn't have been thrilled to see Sharp go to the team with the reigning Art Ross Trophy winner and two all-star centermen.

Chicago, meanwhile, has been adding middling pieces to their lineup for their bottom-six with no way to replace Sharp's scoring. They'll need to look internally to find a replacement for that scoring. Defensively, they got better overall with this trade, but they'll miss Oduya's do-anything-to-win attitude. This is a team that finished third in the Central Division this year, and they continue to subtract big offensive pieces. Winning the division this season will be completely about keeping the puck out of their own net rather than the "showtime" offence that they used in the past few years.

Overall, this is a great trade for Dallas and a decent trade for Chicago. This move has the potential to tip the Central Division on its side, but each side gave up a major piece of their team in the trade - Daley for Dallas and Sharp for Chicago. What should be evident, though, is that the Central Division will be scarier to play against again this season.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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