Patrick Sharp has been traded to the Dallas Stars. (USATSI)
Patrick Sharp has been traded to the Dallas Stars. (USATSI)

Given their salary cap situation it was simply a matter of when, and not if, the Chicago Blackhawks were going to trade veteran forward Patrick Sharp this offseason.

On Friday night they finally did it.

The Blackhawks sent Sharp and defenseman Stephen Johns to the Dallas Stars in exchange for defenseman Trevor Daley and forward Ryan Garbutt.

Sharp, 33, still has two years remaining on his current contract that pays him an average of $5.9 million per season. Together, Daley and Garbutt will count $5.1 million against the cap over the next two seasons, but ESPN's Craig Custance reports that the Stars will retain half of Garbutt's remaining contract. When you factor in the $800,000 Johns would have made on the NHL roster, the cap savings come out to around $2.5 million for the Blackhawks.

Even with that savings, the Blackhawks are still only a little more than $980,000 below the league's salary cap ($71.4 million) for the upcoming season with only 21 players under contract, via General Fanager

They still have to re-sign restricted free agent Marcus Kruger and were still interested in bringing back veteran defenseman Johnny Oduya, though the addition of Daley could certainly impact that. 

Sharp scored 16 goals and recorded 27 assists for the Blackhawks in 68 regular season games this past season. He had been with the team since the middle of the 2005-06 season when he was acquired in a trade from the Philadelphia Flyers and was a core player on a Blackhawks team that won three Stanley Cups in six years.

He is no longer in the prime of his career, obviously, and his production started to drop a bit this past season, but he is still an extremely productive player that should prove to be a huge addition in Dallas. He is now joining a Stars team that was already one of the best offensive teams in the league, finishing the 2014-15 season by averaging 3.13 goals per game, the second highest mark in the league behind only the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Along with the Sharp, the Stars also have the Art Ross Trophy winner (Jamie Benn), Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza and Valeri Nichushkin in their top-six. Adding Sharp to that mix is only going to improve their chances of rebounding from what was a disappointing 2014-15 season.

They also looked to upgrade their goaltending this offseason by bringing in veteran Antti Niemi to form a veteran duo with Kari Lehtonen. 

An underrated part of this deal for the Stars is getting Johns along with Sharp. He is a promising young prospect on the blue line that figured to be a part of the Blackhawks roster this season given their salary cap crunch and the number of openings they were set to have on defense. He was originally drafted in the second round of the 2010 draft by the Blackhawks. He appeared in 51 games for Rockford in the American Hockey League this past season, recording 21 points (four goals, 17 assists). 

For the Blackhawks, it's pretty incredible to see them move Sharp and Brandon Saad and still be in a position where they have almost no room under the cap. They did manage to get some quality NHL players back in return in both deals (and the Saad trade could prove to be a big one for them), but they still probably need to make another move (Kris Versteeg or Bryan Bickell if anybody would take his contract) to finish the roster. 

Garbutt has turned into a pretty solid depth player over the past couple of years, while Daley fills a spot on the blue line. Daley is coming off of a big year offensively, finishign with a career high 16 goals and 38 points in only 68 games, but he struggled at times defensively. 

So far this offseason the Blackhawks have lost Brad Richards and Antoine Vermete in free agency and traded Patrick Sharp, Brandon Saad and Stephen Jones.

In return they have Viktor Tikhonov (free agency), Artemy Panarin (free agency), Marko Dano, Artem Anisimov, Trevor Daley, Ryan Garbutt, Jeremy Morin, and Corey Trop.