To listen to fans of the Chicago Blackhawks talk about the franchise this weekend, you would think that Stan Bowman simply set the roster on fire, a la Heath Ledger's Joker, and walked away, deciding to pack it in for the year before it even began. In making a couple of moves that were very unpopular with the fanbase, Bowman, and Joel Quenneville as well, were absolutely subject to this type of overreaction.
What the Blackhawks did this weekend served a purpose. Over $2 million over the salary cap prior to the weekend beginning, the Hawks completed a series of moves that moved them under the cap threshold. They're under by $877,372 to be exact, but with only 22 players on the roster. How did we get to this point?
In order to get here, the Blackhawks started the weekend by bringing back Daniel Carcillo and sending Teuvo Teravainen to Rockford. Carcillo saves some money, even if just a small chunk of change, in filling that "enforcer" role over Brandon Mashinter. Teravainen was always going to be sent to Rockford it seems, as much as we're all ready to see him at the NHL level. The question for his future does become when we will actually see him, as he's completely blocked by this group of forwards, barring injury.
Of course, the key piece of the weekend is that the Blackhawks finally made the long-awaited trade that was expected of them since the NHL Entry Draft earlier this summer. They sent Nick Leddy to the New York Islanders, along with goaltending prospect Kent Simpson, in exchange for defenseman T.J. Brennan, prospect Ville Pokka, and an RFA goaltender currently playing in the KHL, in Anders Nilsson.
It appears that it was always going to be Leddy in a trade. He was the only candidate that had real value at this point. The point of frustration for many isn't necessarily that it was Leddy, it's only logical, but the fact that they could have moved him much earlier in the summer and have avoided all of this chaos this close to the season, while perhaps also building on the return, which is solid, if unspectacular.
With the moves they've made, the Hawks will head into the season with eight defenseman, it appears. However, they'd have to make at least one more move in order to keep Trevor van Riemsdyk up, as that'd take them right back over the cap. How they're going to do that remains to be seen. Adding to the frustration is the fact that Kyle Cumiskey will be with the team to start the year, while T.J. Brennan wasn't even looked at before being moved to Rockford, despite representing a better entity on the blue line, almost without question.
It all comes down to money, for better or for worse. Stan Bowman has not done the greatest job in managing that, as deals for Bryan Bickell and Corey Crawford certainly hindered their ability to effectively manage the roster this weekend. You really do have to wonder what this might mean for Brandon Saad next summer, with those thoughts likely proving completely terrifying.
At the end of the day, though, how much does this actually change for the Blackhawks this season? In reality, not much. That Carcillo/Mashinter presence was going to be in the mix regardless. Let's just hope it's not for 82 games (for Carcillo, suspensions will ensure it's not). Losing Leddy isn't great, as the Hawks lose a premium puck mover from the blue line, but they likely think he can be replaced down the line by the likes of Adam Clendening or other defensive prospects. That void will be an interesting one to watch be filled. Overall, though, as frustrating as the sequence was this weekend, this team should be able to continue to produce and succeed, as much as the coach and GM apparently tried to cause otherwise.
The next order of business is to make another corresponding move in order to get TvR, and another player, on the roster, while remaining under the cap. Perhaps Michal Rozsival heads to LTIR? That might make the most sense at this point, but should we really expect Stan Bowman and Joel Quenneville to go along with conventional wisdom? They'll piss us off again somehow before Thursday.
Randy Holt is a staff writer for Second City Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter @RandallPnkFloyd.