In what GM Dale Tallon described as “a fruitful day" for his team, the Blackhawks added a piece they had long sought in veteran center Samuel Pahlsson, part of a four-player deal with Anaheim that also brought defenseman Logan Stephenson and a conditional draft pick to Chicago.
“We addressed a need; we needed a shutdown centerman and a veteran guy who has won a Stanley Cup. We felt we had to address that so we could go deeper into the rest of the season and the playoffs,” Tallon said. “[Pahlsson’s] the kind of player who has had success; he gives us that veteran presence up the middle. Winning breeds winning, and the more winners you have in your locker room, the better off you’ll be.”
Pahlsson, who was part of the Ducks’ 2007 Stanley Cup Championship team, gives the Hawks the veteran center that they have searched for all season. In 52 games with Anaheim this year, Pahlsson has recorded 15 points (5 G, 10 A) and is among the league's top 20 in faceoff percentage (53.5%).
“Having such a young center ice core, he gives us the experience we felt we were lacking moving forward,” Tallon said.
Pahlsson has been out since Jan. 31 with a case of mononucleosis and Tallon says that he is still a week or two from returning to play. But Pahlsson, along with the return of Patrick Sharp
and Nikolai Khabibulin from injury, will give the Hawks momentum late in the season.
“Pahlsson will come in now and start working into shape,” Tallon said. “He’ll start skating next week and can return anywhere from one to three weeks from now depending on his conditioning. He’s missed a month of games, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing; he’ll be well-rested for the playoff run.”
Tallon also spoke highly of Stephenson, who he said “has an opportunity to grow and get better” in the Hawks’ minor-league system.
“He’s a big, strong tough defenseman,” Tallon added. “Size and strength was a need we had in Rockford.”
Heading to Anaheim in the trade are defenseman James Wisniewski and center Petri Kontiola. Wisniewski had scored two goals and 11 assists in 31 games with the Hawks since returning from an ACL injury.
“We gave up a great defenseman in James Wisniewski,” Tallon said. “Sometimes you have to give up an asset to get something back that was really important for your team. He’ll love the California lifestyle and get plenty of ice time."
“It’s heartbreaking, but very few guys in this league play for one team their whole career,” Wisniewski said. “I thank the Chicago organization for sticking with me and for all of the help they’ve given me to get back to 100 percent.”
Even with the departures, Tallon feels that his team got better with the trade today.
“Now we have an asset that can kill penalties, win faceoffs and shut down a team’s top scorer,” he said. “Added to the offense that we have, it’s a great fit for our team.”