The Arizona Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks have completed a massive trade just hours before the entry draft. The Blackhawks have sent Niklas Hjalmarsson to the Coyotes in exchange for Connor Murphy and Laurent Dauphin. There is no salary retained in the trade from either side. There had been rumblings about a potential deal that had to do with the #7 pick, but this will have to do for now. Chicago GM Stan Bowman released a statement:
Niklas’ contributions to the three Stanley Cup championship teams are well known but his dependability as a teammate, selfless attitude and the way he represented the Chicago Blackhawks on and off the ice are what made him such a beloved member of the organization. He made his debut in Chicago in 2008 and quietly established himself as one of the toughest competitors in franchise history. We wish he and his family continued success.
Hjalmarsson, 30, has two years remaining on his current contract that pays him $4.1MM per season. The sometimes underappreciated defenseman is left handed, but plays the right side normally and has already been tabbed by John Chayka as the partner for Oliver Ekman-Larsson in Arizona. The two were also partners at the World Cup for team Sweden, and should have solid chemistry together right from the start.
Murphy on the other hand is locked in for five years, and looked like he would be part of the Coyotes long-term plans. His contract pays him $3.85MM per season, but is six years younger and just coming into his own as a defender. He’ll likely never reach the heights of Hjalmarsson, but is a capable replacement for Trevor van Riemsdyk, another right-side defender the Hawks have lost in recent days. The deal allows Chicago to find some cap certainty a few years longer, while also getting younger at least in one position.
Dauphin is a wildcard in the deal, a second-round pick with the upside of a middle-six center. The 22-year old hasn’t found any consistency in the NHL as of yet, but did put up 28 points in 38 AHL contests this year. Whether he ever finds his scoring touch for the Blackhawks, he’ll at least be a cheap depth option for the immediate future, something Chicago always desperately needs. He’s entering the final year of his entry-level contract, and will be incur a cap hit of just $745K with relatively little in the way of possible performance bonuses.