The Chicago Blackhawks have traded forwards Richard Panik and Laurent Dauphin to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for forward Anthony Duclair and defenseman Adam Clendening. The deal was announced Wednesday night and according to Pierre LeBrun, was in the works for about 7-10 days before finally coming to fruition.
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) January 10, 2018
The Blackhawks had interest in acquiring Duclair as early as last season due to his speed and upside that hasn’t yet been tapped into by a Coyotes team despite the 22-year-old forward scoring 20 goals in his first season in Arizona. Duclair also scored 24 assists that season in 81 games, good for 44 points on the year. Unfortunately, Duclair has only scored 14 goals and 30 points in his next two seasons combined, playing in 91 games between the 2016-17 and 2017-18 season.
The Pointe-Claire, Quebec-native certainly has the upside to be regular NHL player and he’ll get a chance to do that on a Chicago team that currently sits just one point out of last place in the Central Division. Still, when considering the fact that the difference between first place and last place is only 12 points in that division, it’s clear that the Blackhawks needed to do something to try and flip the script in their favor at the mid-way point of the season.
Blackhawks Unload Another Contract
After scoring 22 goals last season with the Blackhawks, Panik finally looked like a player that could be worth a decent contract in the NHL. Signing a two-year deal worth $5.6 million to remain with the club, the Blackhawks have been sorely disappointed with the Slovakian winger so far this season. To put Panik’s dismal season into context, his goal Tuesday against the Ottawa Senators was his first since Oct. 21 and only his second five-on-five goal of the season.
Despite the Blackhawks committing to Panik for two years with a $2.8 million cap hit each season, they quickly got out of that deal when it became clear that Panik wasn’t the guy they were looking for to play big minutes in their lineup. In addition to Panik not being a big contributor on the ice, Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times mentioned that Panik wasn’t the most media-friendly player either.
One person who does seem to think Panik still has upside is Arizona Coyotes’ general manager John Chayka.
“Richard Panik is a big, skilled winger who is an excellent goal scorer,” said John Chayka. “He’s also a strong two-way forward with great speed and provides a veteran presence. He will be a nice addition to our forward group.”
Chayka attributed bad luck to Panik’s unsuccessful season thus far:
“We feel like some of it this year has just been some unluckiness. We still think he’s playing a well-rounded game, still think he’s doing a lot of good things that he was doing in the past. His shooting percentage from areas he’s scored in the past is just slightly down this year.”
Making a move to acquire a high-upside project in Duclair, the Blackhawks are looking to hit a home run for a player that simply wasn’t working for them anymore. Even if Duclair doesn’t become a slamdunk top-six player in the NHL, his upside should at the very least make him a very capable third-line player who can add more to the team than Panik did in his last season with the team.
Swap of Former Players
In addition to Duclair and Panik swapping places, the Blackhawks and Coyotes also swapped a pair of players who have formerly been apart of the other team’s system as well. The Blackhawks will see the return of Clendening to their system after they selected him in the second-round fo the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Clendening only played in four games with the Blackhawks before being traded to the Vancouver Canucks, however, and he’s since played for the Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers and Arizona Coyotes. he’s played in 21 games this season with the Coyotes’ AHL affiliate, the Tucson Roadrunners, and he’s scored one goal and five points in that time.
The Coyotes, on the other hand, are getting Dauphin back after trading him to the Blackhawks in the offseason in the deal that saw Niklas Hjalmarsson sent to the Coyotes and Connor Murphy sent to the Blackhawks, Dauphin has played in 33 games with the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs this season, recording four goals and 14 points in the process.