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Blackhawks Notebook: Hawks Add Pieces For Now, Later

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The Blackhawks made a trade for both the present and future Friday afternoon, acquiring defensemen
Kim Johnsson and Nick Leddy from Minnesota in exchange for defenseman Cam Barker.

For the present, the Blackhawks traded for the veteran defenseman Johnsson, a 10-year NHL player with both postseason and international experience.

“We have a good team this year, and we think Kim is going to complement that,” said Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman. “We talked about having some experience here – we’ve got a young group – and Kim has been in playoff runs, he’s been in the Olympics and I think he’s going to fit in great with our style of play here.”

Johnsson, who Bowman says will be in uniform for the Blackhawks Saturday against Atlanta, is known as a versatile blueliner who head coach Joel Quenneville can play in nearly every situation and log a lot of minutes on the ice.

“When you talk to Joel, the one thing you like to have as a coach is options,” Bowman said. “Kim is a very talented player at both ends of the ice. He gives us that experience and versatility to play in a number of different ways. You don’t have to play him in just one role.”

For the future, the Blackhawks also acquired prospect
Nick Leddy, the 18th overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, a player who the team has had their eye on for some time.

“He was actually a big part of the deal,” Bowman said. “We’ve been very high on him since last year when we were trying to trade up to get him in the draft. His speed is something that’s been talked about quite a bit and he plays the type of style we play here. He’s got a puck possession game and he can really skate. He had to be in the mix for this to work.”

Leddy, who is currently a freshman at the University of Minnesota, is now part of the Blackhawks' stable of promising defensive prospects including
Shawn Lalonde and Dylan Olsen.

“When you look at the success of our team, it starts on defense,” said Bowman. “We’re aware of the importance of having those defensive prospects coming through the system; we’ve got Lalonde, we’ve got
Dylan Olsen, and now we’ve got Nick Leddy. That’s going to propel us forward in the years to come.”

But with the arrival of Johnsson and Leddy also comes the departure of Barker, Chicago’s first-round draft pick in 2004. Barker recorded his best professional season in 2008-09, tallying 40 points (6 G, 34 A) in 68 games with the Blackhawks. He had compiled 14 points (4 G, 10 A) in 51 games with Chicago this season.

“Cam has played well,” said Bowman. “It was really just circumstances here. He probably didn’t get the ice time that he wanted and needs to show what he can do. When I talked to Cam I mentioned that – he’s been a great Blackhawk, he’s done everything we asked and he’s developed himself to get his game where it’s at now. He’s a young player and he’s got a bright future ahead of him. We wish him the best.”

Though Johnsson’s salary is larger than Barker’s, his contract expires at the end of the season and while he comes with a bigger cap number, Bowman says the trade today does not rule out any other moves before the NHL’s March 3 trade deadline.

“If we can do something to improve us, we will,” he said. “But we’re pretty happy with what we were able to accomplish today. We’ll see where it goes from here.”

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