I’m a little late to the party on this one, but better late than never. On Saturday, the Blackhawks traded Nick Leddy to the New York Islanders in exchange for three prospects: T.J. Brennan, Ville Pokka, and Anders Nilsson. Both Brennan and Pokka are defensemen, while Nilsson is a goalie. This was a trade that we had all been holding our breath on for seemingly the last four months, but it finally happened. The Hawks needed to move someone off their NHL roster to get themselves under the salary cap, and that someone ended up being Nick Leddy, which wasn’t much of a surprise. The Leddy trade wasn’t the only news on Saturday, however. The Blackhawks also signed Dan Carcillo to a one-year contract, a move that has most Hawks fans scratching our heads.
Back to the Leddy trade. It appeared that one of Oduya or Leddy would end up being the player traded away to get the Hawks back under the NHL’s salary cap, and sure enough it ended up being Leddy. Leddy was first brought up to the NHL to begin the 2010-11 season, and he never left the scene. He never appeared in an AHL game prior to being brought up to the NHL, so his first few seasons with the Hawks were basically an example of learning on the job. While he did progress in certain areas each year while here in Chicago, Leddy never seemed to take that big next step towards becoming a top four, reliable NHL defenseman. Don’t get me wrong, his speed, puck moving, and offensive talents are elite for a d-man, but his ability to be an effective player in his own is what has held him back a bit. Joel Quenneville regularly sat Leddy late in close games because he simply couldn’t trust him to be on the ice during those times. That’s where Leddy has never shown much progression, and that’s a huge reason why he’s the one who got moved.
As for the players the Blackhawks received in return for Leddy, T.J. Brennan, 25, is the most valuable. Last year in the AHL he recorded 25 goals and 47 assists from the back end, and he was named the AHL’s most outstanding defenseman. Brennan has appeared in 40 NHL games in his career with the Sabres and Panthers, and he registered 4 goals and 7 assists in those 40 games. As you can tell from his numbers in the minors, Brennan is an offensive-defenseman who looks to be active in the offensive zone. I wouldn’t expect Brennan to make an appearance in the NHL this season, but you never know. He’s definitely deserving of it, but the Hawks appear to be set with Kyle Cumiskey and David Rundblad as their sixth and seventh defensemen.
Now to Carcillo. In case your memory is very limited and you have already forgotten, Carcillo was with the Hawks from 2011 to 2013 and was a part of the team that defeated Boston to win their second Cup in four years. His role ever since entering the NHL has been that of an agitator. He runs around looking to drill guys through the glass (despite his 6’0″, 200 lb. stature) and is always willing to drop the gloves. His biggest problem is taking dumb penalties and making illegal hits, something he’s been either fined or suspended for 10 times in his career. His job is basically going to be to take over at Brandon Bollig’s spot on the Hawks’ roster this year. He’s a very similar player to Bollig, only he has more skill and can play with better forwards. Still, I don’t like this move.
The Blackhawks have preached over recent years that their mission is to draft, develop, and deliver their prospects to the NHL, much like they did with Brandon Saad. Signing Dan Carcillo completely goes against that plan. When you have guys like Jeremy Morin, Teuvo Teravainen, and even Phillip Danault who look to be NHL-ready (especially Morin), why take away their potential playing time in the NHL by dressing Dan Carcillo in their place who has much less talent and is a far worse hockey player? I understand that Joel Quenneville likes to have that “enforcer” in his lineup, but at some point you just have to use your head and realize that the NHL has changed in recent years, and the role of the enforcer has all but evaporated. One of the keys to being an elite team in the NHL and to winning the Stanley Cup is having great depth on your team. Dan Carcillo is not the worst player you could have on your fourth line, but guys like Morin are better all-around hockey players who can put together more valuable minutes than Carcillo.
Unfortunately, that argument will probably never be a winning argument as long as Quenneville is in charge. He likes his enforcers, and that’s that. After all, the guy does have the third highest win total of any coach in NHL history, and he has led the Hawks to two Stanley Cups in the last five years, so he probably knows better than me. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t disagree with him on this matter.
Thanks for reading.