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Blackhawks see Scuderi as better fit than Daley

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- Things didn't work out the way the Chicago Blackhawks hoped with defenseman Trevor Daley, so they did something about it.

The Blackhawks completed a trade Monday that sent Daley, 32, to the Pittsburgh Penguins, brought veteran defenseman Rob Scuderi to Chicago, and freed up a little more than $1 million under the NHL salary cap of $71.4 million.

Pittsburgh will retain 33 percent of Scuderi's reported $3 million cap charge, according to Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford. Daley has a reported charge of $3.3 million a season.

"That was pretty important for us," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said Tuesday at United Center. "Looking at the big picture, it's hard to trade defensemen for defensemen and also gain some cap space. They're different style defensemen totally, but they're both veterans and I think the fact that we were able to give ourselves some breathing room on the cap, now and going forward, was an important part."

The Blackhawks have a little more than $2 million in cap space, which Bowman said could come into play in future moves. For now, Scuderi is the focus.

Scuderi, 36, is a stay-at-home defenseman who's won the Stanley Cup twice. He adds that championship experience to a core group of Blackhawks veterans who have won the Cup three times in the past six seasons.

He has extensive experience killing penalties and his defense-first playing style was seen as a better fit than Daley's offense-first mentality.

"We just think he's going to be able to fit in with our group and especially on the penalty kill," Bowman said. "I think we've got four [defensemen] we use right now that are good penalty killers, but when one of them takes a penalty, you're short. I think that's a strength of Rob's game. He's been used throughout his career as a PK guy."

Bowman acquired Daley, along with forward Ryan Garbutt, in an offseason trade that sent forward Patrick Sharp and prospect Stephen Johns to the Dallas Stars. Daley was supposed to be the replacement for puck-moving defenseman Johnny Oduya, who signed with Dallas as a free agent after helping the Blackhawks win the Cup in 2013 and 2015.

It didn't work out that way. Rather than earning a role on one of the top defense pairings, Daley was relegated to the third unit and played 14:45 per game. That was down significantly from 22:52 per game with the Stars last season, when he had an NHL career-high 16 goals and 22 assists in 68 games.

"I think sometimes things just don't work the way you draw them up," Bowman said. "Trevor has a lot of talent. We certainly wish him well. He's a class act. Sometimes it doesn't work the way you expect it to. I think he's going to have a great opportunity to go there and play a lot, and hopefully he helps them. I think this is going to be one of those trades that works well for both teams."

Scuderi arrived at United Center on Tuesday and participated in the morning skate. He will be in the lineup against the Colorado Avalanche (8:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CSN-CH), playing the left point on the third pairing with Michal Rozsival.

Scuderi and Rozsival, 37, never played together on the Penguins, but they crossed paths in that organization when Scuderi was a prospect.

"We played a little bit there," Scuderi said. "[I'm] just trying to pick his brain about some systematic stuff [with the Blackhawks]. It's tough to get fully immersed on Day One, but you've kind of got to throw yourself in into the fire and see what happens."

The same is true for his family.

"I have four kids," Scuderi said. "You're pretty anchored once your kids are a little older. I've got a 9- and an 8-year-old, so they're maybe not so thrilled, but it's a great place to be. I'm sure it should be a good situation when I can get them out here, but for right now, I'm glad that I'm kind of by myself and I can just focus on the game."

Scuderi, like Daley, is under contract for next season. He's four years older than Daley, but Bowman said he's not concerned about that.

"I think Rob still has some game left," Bowman said. "He's played about the same number of games in his career as Trevor Daley, so he was a college player [and] came out a little later. I think looking at his ability to contribute, he's still a good hockey player. He still played important minutes in Pittsburgh and he doesn't have to be the top guy here. We're going to slot him in, put him in a position to succeed, and we're excited to see how it plays out."

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