Well, the Chicago Blackhawks did just that in a trade with the Minnesota Wild on Friday, and I’m left scratching my head.
Yes, the team will need to reduce its payroll before next season begins. But why trade away a quality defender like Barker now? Why not wait until after the playoffs–and hopefully a Stanley Cup championship–before making a big change like that?
Barker was the third overall draft pick in the 2004 NHL Draft. And while his NHL career has not progressed as far as the team–and fans–would have liked, Barker has proven himself to be a capable defenseman. He scored 40 points in 68 games last season, but has only scored 14 points (4-10) in 52 games this year. Part of the reason may be because he is number four on the depth chart–behind Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Brian Campbell.
Johnsson is almost an opposite to Barker. He was the last player drafted (266th overall) in the 1994 NHL Draft, but has since put in 10 years in the NHL. Is he being brought on to help lead a young Blackhawks team? That seems unlikely, as the team already has veteran leadership in Brian Campbell and Brent Sopel.
Barker is on his way up; Johnsson is at his peak, and can only go down from here.
The ‘Hawks still have to slash their payroll between now and next season. And though Johnsson makes more than Barker, his contract is up at the end of the season, and most likely will not be re-signed .This is only a baby step towards the goal of reducing payroll.
According to Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman, the ‘Hawks actually tried to trade up to get Leddy in last year’s NHL draft. So maybe this kid is really good, especially if the ‘Hawks are willing to give up a quality player like Barker.