As a long time Toronto Maple Leaf supporter and Chicago Blackhawk season ticket holder since 2006 here in Chicago, I am very disappointed to see the Hawks making such rash (irrational) decisions with their current roster today. And with the Maple Leafs in such dire need to find at least 2 solid 1-4 defenseman (if they want to compete in the East next year and the next few seasons to come), it pains me to see such a solid top 4 D-man like Hjalmarsson slip through the fingers of Lou Lamoreillo and Brendan Shanahan this morning.
Toronto's as well as the rest of the NHL front offices had to be aware of Chicago's sentiment toward its roster after being embarrassed by Nashville in the first round. GM Stan Bowman, pissed off after his team was amazingly swept easily by the Preds publicly promised change, but even I didn't except all this craziness this morning. In my opinion, the Hawks have really shot themselves in the foot and must be crazy to think they can still win a Cup with an aging, performance declining core, although they are still special players, but let's be realistic.
On to the Maple Leafs, who reportedly are seriously interested in Travis Hamonic from the Islanders; a soon to be 27 year old who is a minus 26 over the last two seasons in Brooklyn. And reports even say the Leafs might be willing to deal either Connor Brown or Kasperi Kapanen in order to acquire Harmonic, who in my opinion is clearly not a top 2 or even a top 4 pairing. Perhaps a fringe #4 guy but more suitably a 5-6 guy on a solid club. If that is true, then we've really witnessed an equal huge mistake between Chicago and Toronto.
Hjalmarsson, at age 30, amongst the declining Hawks D corps, still has more left in him for sure. Hjalmarsson would have stabilized the young inexperienced Leafs blue line for the next two seasons at least, and perhaps be open to an extension IF Toronto continued to impress so quickly. For me, I would have dealt either Brown or Kapanen for Hjalmarsson, and if Chicago wanted a young defenseman in return, I would have been fine including either Travis Dermott or Jeremy Bracco in the deal as well and hopefully pick the right one to keep in between those two options.
I would really hate to lose either of those four young Maple Leafs in any deal with Hamonic, who has missed a boatload of games over his career and whose plus/minus took a real ugly turn last season. Yikes! Bad move. Let's just hope this doesn't get worse. But a very big miss for the Leafs and the Hawks today concerning the availability of Niklas Hjalmarsson. Both teams screwed up and allowed a totally insignificant NHL club like Arizona (who should be playing in Seattle to allow for some relevance to the league!) to get involved.
Chicago just helped make the Western Conference all the more wide open for the taking...The LA Kings better be ready to take advantage or they will see their heads roll like this next season.