The Nick Leddy trade was a great example of Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman doing the balancing act that has kept the team at the top of the NHL since he took over in 2010. Part of the deal was very much in the present. He opted to trade Leddy rather than Johnny Oduya or Patrick Sharp because losing one of the other two would have a bigger negative impact on the Blackhawks' chances of winning right now.
But in making another trade for salary-cap reasons, Bowman got pieces that could help Chicago down the road, just as he did in deals including Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien and Kris Versteeg. He's constantly straddling that line -- trying to win now and maintaining a successful franchise in the long term. He hangs on to draft picks, and rarely rushes a young player for the sake of short-term gains.
It's why Chicago is back on top of the NHL Future Power Rankings.
The idea of these rankings is to try and project how the NHL will look three years into the future, factoring in four categories: roster, prospects, contracts and salary cap, as well as the management group (including owner, GM and coach). You can see a full rundown of the categories in the box above. The rankings, projected for the 2017-18 season, were calculated using a weighted formula and voted on by a panel of five.
The Panel: ESPN Insider Craig Custance; prospect analyst Corey Pronman; hockey analytics pioneer Rob Vollman; and Timo Seppa and Ryan Wagman of Hockey Prospectus.
We know the Blackhawks are No. 1, but here's the rest of the list, along with insights into why they landed where they did:
The bar graphs reflect the average points given by the voters for each category.