Blackhawks trade goalie Robin Lehner to the Golden Knights and defenseman Erik Gustafsson to the Flames

Tribune Content Agency

ST. LOUIS — The Blackhawks made a couple of major moves before Monday’s NHL trade deadline, sending goaltender Robin Lehner to the Golden Knights and defenseman Erik Gustafsson to the Flames.

The Hawks will receive goaltender Malcolm Subban — the 26-year-old younger brother of former Norris Trophy-winning Devils defenseman P.K. Subban — defenseman prospect Slava Demin, 19, and a second-round draft pick from the Golden Knights in return for Lehner, according to reports.

At least one media outlet reported the Hawks will get two conditional draft picks for Gustafsson.

The cap-challenged Hawks would have needed to shed several million in salary to try to re-sign Lehner, who could command up to $8 million per year as an unrestricted free agent in the offseason, according to some projections.

The Hawks instead opted to get what they could for Lehner, who had split starting duties with Corey Crawford. Lehner had a 3.01 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage in 33 games (31 starts).

While re-signing Lehner, 28, would have been a challenge, the fact the Hawks had negotiated with him on a long-term deal showed it could have gone either way. Not so for Gustafsson.

It had seemed a foregone conclusion for months that the Hawks would trade away the 27-year-old offensive-minded defenseman, who will become an unrestricted free agent this summer. And it became a near certainty once it was clear the Hawks are unlikely to contend for a playoff spot.

Reports of the Gustafsson trade first emerged about an hour before Monday’s 2 p.m. deadline.

Gustafsson has six goals and 20 assists in 59 games this season, including eight power-play points.

Given his age and attractive salary — and the fact a hot market emerged for defensemen — Gustafsson was an attractive target. He was scratched the last two games to avoid exposing him to injury.

He’s regarded as a solid offensive player, particularly on the power play, though his defense isn’t as strong. His numbers have dipped since last season, when he had 17 goals and 43 assists in 79 games.


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