The Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks struck a mini deal Thursday. Left winger Ryan Garbutt heads to the Ducks and left winger Jiri Sekac joins the Hawks.
The salary cap exchange is negligible. Sekac carries a $925,000 cap hit and is a restricted free agent this summer. Garbutt's number is $900,000, as the Dallas Stars ate half his $1.8 million in the Patrick Sharp trade with Chicago. Garbutt has one season left on his deal.
We can see what the Ducks are up to. On Jan. 16 they shipped speedy Carl Hagelin to Pittsburgh for David Perron, who has a bit more jam to his game. Now they replace Sekac with the grinding, agitating Garbutt. The Ducks are trying to make themselves tougher to play against.
Garbutt has just two goals and six points in 43 games. He never found the right role with the Hawks, not even when he saw time with Jonathan Toews on Chicago's top line, but he was quite a successful checker in Dallas. He's two seasons removed from a 17-goal campaign. He should find a home on one of Anaheim's bottom two lines alongside some rotation of Shawn Horcoff, Chris Stewart, Andrew Cogliano, Patrick Maroon, Mike Santorelli and Nate Thompson. Garbutt could even get a chance to walk through the revolving door of left wingers playing with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry if Rickard Rakell falters.
The trade is more interesting from Chicago's standpoint. It's not like the Hawks are absolutely bursting with grinders. If anything, with Teuvo Teravainen, Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov drawing into the lineup this season, the Hawks have shifted their focus toward skill. So it's interesting to see them swap sandpaper for even more skill. But, hey, it's worked beautifully for coach Joel Quenneville so far, and Sekac has untapped potential. He has just one goal and three points in 22 games but possesses nice hands and speed. He has some real goal-scoring ability. He's 23. And if any team has the capacity to bring out the best in players, it's Chicago, the New England Patriots of the NHL.
This deal looks even on paper but is very much a floor/ceiling play. The Ducks elevate their floor with Garbutt, and the Hawks elevate their ceiling.
Matt Larkin is an associate editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin