As fun as it has been to write about how great the Preds are doing this year, we still need to keep an eye on Chicago, especially when they make big moves. Considering the 5-2 win on Saturday against the Blackhawks, this topic may sound silly, but as fans we need to keep up with what the rest of the division does and how it could have future implications. With that being said, the Blackhawks recently made a trade that could impact the Preds.
Chicago shipped off 2014 1st round pick Nick Schmaltz to Arizona for Dylan Strome and Brendan Perlini. This move has been viewed as a huge gamble since Schmaltz was expected to be the future Center for the Blackhawks (which is weird considering they have Alex Debrincat). Either way, Schmaltz has shown serious promise and has produced 91 points in 162 games since debuting for Chicago.
Now, for the players Chicago acquired. Dylan Strome and Brendan Perlini are both former 1st round picks who were actually chosen before Schmaltz in their respective drafts. On paper, it’s Chicago who has won the trade when considering potential. This is especially true when you consider Strome, who went third overall behind McDavid and Eichel.
Let’s begin with the player who has the most upside, Dylan Strome. A once A-grade prospect center who struggled coming into the league scoring 18 points in 51 games. Worth noting, however, is that those 51 games span three across seasons, so we haven’t gotten to see what he can do during an extended stay in the league. Chicago seems to be confident that he is still the player everyone thought he was and that is why they have slotted him on the second line with Alex Debrincat (who is normally a center but is playing wing) and Patrick Kane. If you are going to jump-start a former high-end prospect’s career, putting him with a rising star, as well as Patrick Kane, makes sense.
The second piece, Brendan Perlini, has suited up for 156 NHL games in the same span and has 57 points. On a snap judgment, the winger doesn’t seem like anything special, but a young power forward can develop into a key piece for a retooling team. I mean, Nashville fans know what type of an impact James Neal had for the team due to his play. Now, I’m not saying Perlini is going to be the same caliber as Neal, but an athlete who plays like that has value. This is especially true if that player is not going to command a super expensive contract. I expect him to take over the role that the Blackhawks were hoping Ryan Hartman would fill, which would explain why he is on their first line right now.
To tie this all together, the Blackhawks took one young potential-filled player, wished upon a star and turned it into two. If this strategy fails it is good news for the Preds, but if it works that is something to be afraid of. Yeah, superstar talent plays a big part in championship teams, but you also needs prospects who are progressing every year on cheap contracts and good role players. Unfortunately, both Perlini and Strome fill each of these needs.
In my opinion, this trade will further enhance the process that the Blackhawks are going through. They may get one, or possibly two, excellent NHLers to come to the aid of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and company and propel the Blackhawks back into giving every team in the Central Division a rough time… Including the Predators.