CHICAGO – With the team’s playoff hopes fading with nearly three-quarters of the season gone, many full expected the Blackhawks to be sellers at Monday’s NHL Trade Deadline.
It would seem that getting better for the future would be better than the present, especially with the team eight points out of the last Western Conference playoff spot.
As 2 PM approached on Monday, general manager Stan Bowman made one more that was expected and another major one that may have not been by a majority of the fanbase, even if it was rumored the last few weeks.
The Blackhawks have traded goalie Robin Lehner to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for goalie Malcolm Subban, defensive prospect Slava Demin, and a 2020 second round pick.
Lehner was in his first year with the Blackhawks, going 16-10-5 with a 3.01 goals against average, with most of those numbers a bit worse because of a late slump in his last five games. After strong three-and-a-half months to start his tenure, Lehner lost four of his last five contests, allowing four or more goals in four of those games. Some credit Lehner’s performance before that as the reason for the team having any hope at all for the playoffs coming into the new year.
Defenseman Erik Gustafsson was traded to the Calgary Flames on Monday afternoon for a third-round pick in this year’s draft and was the second of three moves made by the Blackhawks at the trade deadline.
Originally a draft pick of the Edmonton Oilers in 2012, the defenseman played three-and-a-half seasons at the NHL level for the Blackhawks. An off and on contributor in his first two seasons, Gustafsson made a name for himself during the 2018-2019 campaign as he was one of the better offensive defenseman in the league. His 17 goals were tied for third in the league at the position while his 43 assists were eighth as Gustafsson was one of the biggest surprises of the playoff-less campaign.
In 59 games this season, those offensive numbers have cooled a bit, with Gustafsson registering just six goals and 20 assists.
Later in the day, the Blackhawks made a swap of prospects as they acquired defenseman T.J. Brennan from the Flyers for center Nathan Noel.