Well, the trend continues for Stan Bowman acquiring former 1st round picks. This is getting comical:
Dylan Strome - 3rd overall Brendan Perlini - 12th Slater Koekoek - 10th Olli Maatta - 22nd John Quenneville - 30th Calvin de Haan - 12th
... all since November 2018
The Hawks knew they had a glaring hole on their team and that was the defence. Stan Bowman knew the penalty kill stank… well everyone knew that, but Stan was the only one that could do anything about it.
I have been mentioning this for weeks based on what I was hearing; the Blackhawks were looking more poised to improve through trades vs. UFA. This was especially true considering how week the UFA defencemen crop is this summer.
Stan wasn't the only one thinking that with key defenders like Trouba, Subban, Niskanen, Gudas, Braun and Olli Maatta all changing area codes before July 1st.
The trade is Calvin de Haan and Aleksi Saarela (the Hawks just drafted his younger brother Antti on Saturday) for rights to both Gustav Forsling and Anton Forsberg.
I had heard that the Forsling camp wasn't thrilled with the Maatta acquisition and the mounting logjam on D. Well, he now has a shot at playing in Carolina and getting regular time there… hopefully.
Anton Forsberg had a great year in Rockford but was unlikely to remain with the organization according to Scott Powers.
… Something has to give and I believe it will. There's a chance that there's a corresponding move soon, however, there is also the possibility that teams hit up the Hawks for the services of Erik Gustafsson or Connor Murphy after they either didn't like what they saw on the open market or they struck out with a couple of D targets.
As it stands now, the Hawks have some options with their pairings and have the ability to form a true shutdown tandem.
Potential pairings could look like:
I don't believe Seabrook will start out as a 7th defender, however, Jeremy Colliton has to have this conversation with Brent during training camp. I know it'll be difficult considering Colliton and Seabrook were childhood friends and former teammates, but all signs point this trend.
As I mentioned above, more trades have to be on the way, so we'll hold off on any armchair coaching but it's been an eventful offseason so far for Stan.
One thing to note is that Calvin de Haan had shoulder surgery and might not be ready for training camp. Dr. Terry and the Hawks would have checked in on his medical records and progression and obviously, he's healing well enough for the Hawks to have traded for him. This is the 4th major shoulder injury for de Haan I believe, so there is some concern of it reoccurring.
All in all, I think this is an outstanding move. I was screaming from the top of a mountain for the Hawks to sign de Haan last summer only to see him choose Carolina.
I will end my thoughts on this trade by saying, let's revisit this after the free agency frenzy on July 1st. There is going to be crazy money tossed around for guys like Anton Stralman, Tyler Myers and Jake Gardiner. Then we can all look back and say, hmmm… $4.55M per for de Haan and $4.08M per for Maatta is looking pretty damn good. Trust me.
Moving on to Chicago's RFAs; Scott Powers of The Athletic has been how on the case of the RFAs. As of this afternoon here's what he was able to uncover:
RFAs qualified + working on deals = Dylan Sikura, David Kampf, Brenden Perlini, John Quenneville, RFAs qualified = Victor Ejdsell (already overseas but qualifying him retains his rights), Gustav Forsling (TRADED), Anton Forsberg (TRADED) RFAs not qualified/unsure = Luke Johnson, Blake Hillman, Spencer Watson, Anthony Louis
The deadline is Tuesday at 4 pm CST. We will know more information tomorrow on the status of these players, as well as other big RFAs around the league.
I will leave you with a little more information on Aleksi Saarela.
According to Elite Prospects, he's, "A dangerous offensive forward that creates energy through scoring chances. Possesses good hockey sense as well as good hands and stickhandling ability. A smooth and speedy skater who has a lot of jump in his step. Not very large in stature; however, his diminutive size doesn't deter his scoring prowess, and that is what he will have to rely upon to be successful." (Curtis Joe, EP 2014)
He had 54 points (30 goals) in 69 games for the Charlotte Checkers and was even more impressive in the playoffs with 15 points in 17 games on his way to help the team win the Calder Cup.
He's got an NHL shot already and it's on full display here in his highlights – enjoy!