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Blackhawks Sun Jun 26 2011

Hawks Continue Retooling With Draft-Day Trades

Thumbnail image for blackhawks.gifThe Blackhawks added 11 youngsters in the NHL entry draft this weekend, including four of the first 43 picks, but it was a pair of departures that had Chicago fans buzzing.

Two more members of the 2010 Stanley Cup-winning team were sent packing: Brian Campbell, traded to the Florida Panthers for undistinguished winger Rostislav Olesz; and Troy Brouwer, traded to the Washington Capitals for a first-round pick.

GM Stan Bowman didn't get much in return, but he was mostly just trying to clear some money under what's expected to be a $64 million NHL salary cap next season. Tribune beat writer Chris Kuc explains:

The trade of defenseman Brian Campbell and his anchor of a contract that carried an annual salary-cap hit of $7.1 million along with the deal that sent winger Troy Brouwer -- who was due a substantial raise from his salary of $1,050,000 -- has taken the financial shackles off Bowman. He has had very little wiggle room under the cap since taking over for Dale Tallon as GM in 2009 and now has around $14 million to spend as he retools the roster of a team that is one season removed from winning the Stanley Cup.

Chicago reunited Campbell with Florida's Dale Tallon, who as Blackhawks GM in 2008 signed the defenseman to an eight-year, $56.8 million contract that has been tough to live up to.

Any true assessment of the trades will have to wait until we see what the Hawks do with the money they've freed up -- the NHL free agency period officially opens Friday -- but the initial reaction in many corners is skeptical at best.

Sam Fels at Second City Hockey responded with an open letter to Bowman, running down a host of problems the absence of Campbell and Brouwer will create:

Well, you proved you've got some tires, don't ya? You wearing the daddy pants now? I guess you are. It's your show now, big boy. Do you know what you're doing? ... They tell me I should wait until July 2nd. But unless you've got some Copperfield shit planned for the 1st, you've got serious questions to answer. And I don't think you have it in you.

Al Cimaglia at Hockey Independent assesses the moves from all angles but ultimately encourages Hawks fans to stay tuned to see how the off-season plays out:

[Trading Campbell] wasn't a talent for talent deal. This was about a huge, long term contract going one way with a lesser term, smaller contract coming back. The end result is the Blackhawks free up approximately $12 million in cap space over the next three seasons. The big savings comes into play during years four and five when the Hawks realize over $14 million in salary cap space.

I won't criticize either trade from Friday because Bowman has to have a bigger plan. But the Hawks need to acquire some proven talent.

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