The Chicago Blackhawks – Still looking Sharp, despite losing Sharp

Do all good things come to an end?  Well that is what the majority of CHI fans think given the overnight departure of fan favorite Patrick Sharp (-1.01 AB).  While we admit this stings, especially in the wake of the sad Saad move, it is hardly the end to the Blackhawk dynasty.  The following analysis may be difficult to grasp since we are unsure about the final depth charts for the upcoming season, but on the surface CHI still looks fine relative to the rest of the Western Conference (but not the east).

Even though the Blackhawks have obviously been scalped due to salary cap issues, preliminarily we have them going from first in the West with a 20.06 AB to now a 10.7.  While this 10 goal at the margin decline would positively wreck other teams, all it does to Chicago is bring them back to the pack a tad.  We rate only MIN (+18.58 AB) and CGY (+13.51 AB) squarely ahead of the Hawks going into next year, meaning CHI is still hovering around the top in the West.  How can this be? It is because the teams that have improved out west were the ones that needed to do so the most in order to approximate an ability to compete where CHI had a lot of room to spare vis a vis its dominance.  For example, DAL is significantly better now than they were, but has only ascended to a mid-tier team in the west.  Chicago had room to spare (luckily).

With respect to the Saad trade, this actually looks like a somewhat even swap to us.  Although Tropp and Morin score poorly on our scale (maybe they won’t make the team), Anisimov is serviceable at roughly a breakeven Advanced Bracton and Dano is a fine player at a +3.96 AB and actually slightly higher than Saad at +3.54.  The Hawks actually could have (and should have) traded Saad for Anisimov and Dano and been better off than by securing the other two guys.

As for Sharp, his shots and point production will surely be missed, especially by the shot based statistics hounds out there.  However, since the AB score actually diminishes (but does not exclude) the role of shots to team success, the Sharp trade is not necessarily a killer, but is unquestionably horrible.  Even though Sharp scored a negative 1.01 AB, Daley and Garbutt combined for over a negative 8 AB.  In fact they were two of the lowest score players on Dallas last year and this is where the Hawks really handicapped themselves.  They could not have found a better deal for one of the most prolific shot takers in the NHL?  That’s amazing.

To conclude, the Sharp transaction, and not necessarily the Saad trade, single handedly renders CHI a top tier, but no longer dominant force in the conference.  Notably, Dallas has improved to -15.99 AB overall.  This is still middling but by adding Sharp and shedding dead weight within the conference in the process, DAL solidly advances toward they playoff bubble.  However, we suggest you come down off the ledge CHI fans.  Sharp and Saad will be missed as favorites, but if you want to be Saad about something, be cranky about the lack of quality received in return for Sharp as the “best deal available” may have cost CHI two slots in the standings.

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