When Patrick Kane went down with his broken collarbone in the last couple months of the season, the Chicago Blackhawks found themselves with an opportunity to add to their roster at the trade deadline in a way that seemed impossible, unless Stan Bowman was prepared to get extremely creative in order to add a veteran or two.
That silver lining was a rare positive in relation to the Kane injury, as the Hawks saw their offense fizzle out and they struggled mightily down the stretch without their superstar forward. As a result of him going down, though, they were able to add much more than initially expected at the deadline, as they filled needs with the acquisitions of Kimmo Timonen and Antoine Vermette.
These were high profile moves that looked like they could wrought big rewards for the Stanley Cup contending Blackhawks, especially given that Kane was expected back at some point during the playoffs. However, while they were able to add a pair of quality veterans, and Patrick Kane has already returned to the lineup to give the Hawks a much more formidable chance of making a deep postseason run, it's the quiet move that Stan Bowman made on the actual day of the trade deadline that has paid off the most.
Kimmo Timonen wasn't terrible effective during the regular season, though you do have to cut him a bit of slack as he was coming off of issues related to blood clots that many thought would cost him his career. He's been a bit better in the playoffs, but has still been quite sheltered on the blue line. He played less than 13 minutes in the Hawks' triple overtime affair on Tuesday.
Antoine Vermette found himself as a healthy scratch in the first two games of these playoffs, though his struggles also are not entirely on him, as he has been misused and underutilized. Originally acquired to be a center, Joel Quenneville has trotted him out as a winger at times, and hasn't used him on special teams to the degree that he is capable of being utiilized. His goal on Tuesday against Nashville was his first with the Blackhawks.
So while you can't entirely put the struggles of the two primary deadline acquisitions that Bowman made completely on the individual players, as there are explanations, to a certain degree, for them, it's hard to argue with the fact that Andrew Desjardins has been the most effective deadline acquisition that Stan Bowman made.
It was a move that certainly made waves, as he shipped off fan favorite fourth liner Ben Smith in the deal. With Desjardins set to hit free agency this summer, and Ben Smith with another year remaining on his contract, this was an opportunity for Bowman to clear up just a little bit of money in order to make the impending cap crunch at least a little less painful.
But it's a move that has certainly paid off. Desjardins carved out a permanent spot for himself for much of the regular season, appearing in 13 total games prior to the playoffs getting underway. He didn't make a tremendous impact statistically, but proved quite effective on the fourth line, particularly when the group was comprised of Marcus Kruger and Teuvo Teravainen.
While Desjardins' arrival in the lineup during the postseason, after sitting the first two games, resulted in the benching of Teuvo, the Blackhawks have still noticeably benefited from it nonetheless. He was the Blackhawks' fourth best forward by CF%, at 61 percent, and got the Hawks on the board with their first goal. He turned around and was solid again on Tuesday night in the 3OT game, going for a CF% of 68, just two percentage points back of Marcus Kruger.
Desjardins finished Tuesday in logging more ice time than Kris Versteeg and Antoine Vermette, with his five shots serving as the second highest total on the team, behind Duncan Keith's seven. While players like Vermette and Versteeg could find themselves in the press box again at some point during these playoffs, it's going to be more difficult for Quenneville to rationalize sticking Desjardins up there.
We don't need to go into a plethora of advanced stats and figures to determine that Desjardins has been the most effective player that the Blackhawks received at the deadline. He's performed very well in adding that physical presence, but also contributing some offense as well. If he's willing to come back at only a slight raise and continue getting paid in the six figure range, he's a player many Hawks fans likely wouldn't mind coming back in a fourth line role again next year.
Randy Holt is a staff writer for Second City Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter @RandallPnkFloyd.