The Chicago Blackhawks
got a little older and a bit more offensive on their blue line Friday, acquiring veteran defenseman Kim Johnsson
from the Minnesota Wild
in exchange for defenseman Cam Barker
The Blackhawks also received the rights to Nick Leddy
, the Wild's 2009 first-round pick.
Johnsson, 33, has 14 points in 52 games, but has three seasons with at least 10 goals, and three with at least 30 points. In 10 NHL seasons with the Rangers, Flyers and Wild, Johnsson has 66 goals and 281 points. He also has 12 points in 43 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
That experience is what sold Blackhawks General Manager Stan Bowman.
"We talked about having some experience here," said Bowman. "We have a young group and he's been through playoff runs, he's been through Olympics, high-pressure situations."
Playing in Chicago's up-tempo offense, as well as better talent than he had in Minnesota, Johnsson could return to the player he was in his best seasons, 2001-04 with Philadelphia, when he averaged 11 goals and 41 points per season.
Johnsson also is capable of playing big minutes -- he led the Wild in ice time per game at 23:46, and he played on both the power play and penalty kill.
"Kim is a very talented player at both ends of the ice," said Bowman. "He gives us that experience and versatility to play a number of different ways. He can play an offensive role, which he has in the past. He logged a lot of minutes in Minnesota, he's their top minute defenseman. He won't have to play that many minutes here, but he gives us the flexibility to do that. … The one thing you like to have as a coach is options. You don't have to play (Johnsson) in one role. He can be a great penalty killer, he's very smart, he knows how to defend well and he's got the experience on his side. When you put it all together, it complements our group nicely."
What also helps the Blackhawks is that Johnsson will be unrestricted free agent after the season. Chicago is perilously close to the salary-cap ceiling, and with new contracts set to start next season for franchise cornerstones Patrick Kane
, Jonathan Toews
and Duncan Keith
, sacrificing the talented Barker became an unfortunate necessity.
Barker, the third pick of the 2004 Entry Draft, is 10 years younger than Johnsson, but had similar offensive production -- 14 points in 51 games. In five seasons with the Blackhawks, the 6-foot-3, 215-pounder had 80 points in 200 games. He also had 3 goals and 9 points in 17 games in Chicago's run to the 2009 Western Conference Finals.
"He already scored 40 points in the League last year," said Wild GM Chuck Fletcher. "There's about 20 defensemen every year that are capable of scoring 40 points in the League. We're very excited to acquire a player of his size, talent and youth."
He's in the first season of a three-year deal that pays him just over $3 million per season.
"I was happy when I found out I was headed to (Minnesota)," said Barker. "I think some of us in Chicago knew that sooner or later, some of us would have to be moved. In my case, it happened sooner."
Leddy was a key point in the deal for the Blackhawks. The 16th pick of the 2009 Entry Draft, he dazzled last season at Eden Prairie (Minn.) High School that now is learning the game at the University of Minnesota. He had 11 goals and 44 points in 29 games and won Minnesota's "Mr. Hockey" Award last season. This season, in 19 games with the Golden Gophers, the 5-foot-11, 179-pounder has just 1 goal and 5 points.
"He was a big part of the deal," said Bowman. "We've been very high on him since last year when we were trying to trade up to get him at the draft. His speed is something that's been talked about quite a bit. He plays the style of game we play here. He's got that puck possession game (and) he can really skate."
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