So who won?
That’s what you all want to know regarding the Ryan Hartman-to-Nashville trade, right?
So here’s my answer: It’s impossible to know.
Think about it. Everybody wanted general manager Stan Bowman’s head after he traded Andrew Shaw to Montreal for two second-round picks in 2016.
After all, Shaw bled Chicago Blackhawks red, was an integral part of two Stanley Cup teams and had no problem going to war for his teammates on a nightly basis.
But with time comes perspective. And the realization that Bowman turned one of those draft picks into Alex DeBrincat (a potential 30-goal scorer) and the other into up-and-coming defenseman Chad Krys.
Not bad, right?
Twenty-four hours after the Hartman trade, we can make two proclamations:
• Nashville paid a heavy price for a bottom-six player who probably will be a 10-15 goal scorer. But the Predators also added that all-important grit-and-grime guy who could be extremely valuable in the postseason. Hartman’s game also figures to improve playing around so many talented players.
• This does not help the Hawks in the short term, but it has the potential to give them a big-time difference maker.
What if the Hawks find another Duncan Keith (taken 54th overall), P.K. Subban (43rd), Shea Weber (49th), Roman Josi (38th) or Shayne Gostisbehere (78th)? The Hawks desperately need a puck-moving, top-four defenseman, and the trade gives them a chance to find one.
Losing Hartman stings because he was Shaw with more discipline, better ability to draw penalties and just as much scoring potential. Hartman was Shaw at a fraction of the cost — and he was one of the few Hawks who plays with an edge and will stick up for a wronged teammate.
“One of the better guys that I played with,” said good friend Nick Schmaltz. “If anyone got hit — or if it was a dirty hit — he was always right there asking the guy to fight.
“Off the ice, he’s a great guy to be around.”
Hartman’s presence will be missed, especially by Schmaltz and Vinnie Hinostroza, who grew up with Hartman. But they’re pros, and while it may not be easy they will move on.
Just as the organization will, perhaps with a future star helping yet another playoff-bound, Stanley Cup-contending group of Blackhawks.
Is that how it will all play out? Only time will tell …
What Ejdsell offers:
What might Victor Ejdsell bring to the Hawks?
Ejdsell, whom Stan Bowman acquired from Nashville as part of the Ryan Hartman deal, is a 6-foot-4, 214-pound winger who has 17 goals in 44 games in the Swedish Hockey League.
He appears to be a talented skater with a lethal shot, and he was MVP of Sweden’s “second league” last year.
To no one’s surprise, Bowman is very high on the 22-year-old.
“He’s not a throw-in,” the GM said. “He’s a very talented center. … He’s a bit of a late bloomer; this is his first year in the top league in Sweden. … We have to get him over here and see where he fits — if he’s ready for the NHL next year.
“He could be, but we’re not trying to put too many high expectations on him.”
Another young gun:
There is a lot of hype surrounding 2014 sixth-round pick Dylan Sikura, who is finishing his senior season at Northeastern.
Sikura, a 6-foot, 166-pound forward, is said to have elite skill and might slot into a top-six role for the Hawks. The past two seasons, he has 38 goals in 69 games.
On Monday, Stan Bowman reiterated his belief that the Hawks will sign Sikura to an entry-level deal, and that the 22-year-old will join the team after Northeastern’s season is over.
“That’s our plan,” said Bowman, who is staying out of Sikura’s hair while he finishes his collegiate career. “I have spoken to his family adviser. He doesn’t have an agent since he’s a college kid. But we’ve had some discussions about how that would look and when he would be here.”