Stan Bowman has successfully supplemented an elite core with the right pieces consistently, but he’s also had some significant misses. We won’t know how this season’s group finishes until June (hopefully), but New Year’s Eve is as good a time as any to look back over the course of a calendar year and take account of the moves made by the organization.
Let’s take a look back at Bowman’s 2015 as general manager of the Chicago Blackhawks.
- January 29, 2015 – acquired defenseman Gustav Forsling from Vancouver for defenseman Adam Clendening.
- February 26, 2015 – acquired forward Spencer Abbott from Toronto for defenseman T.J. Brennan.
- February 27, 2015 – acquired defenseman Kimmo Timonen from Philadelphia for a second round pick in 2015 and a conditional pick in 2016.
(2016 pick became a second round selection when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup)
- February 28, 2015 – acquired center Antoine Vermette from Arizona for defenseman Klas Dahlbeck and a first round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft (#30 – Nick Merkley).
- March 2, 2015 – acquired forward Andrew Desjardins from San Jose for forward Ben Smith and a conditional 7th round pick in 2016.
- June 27, 2015 – acquired forward Ryan Haggerty from the NY Rangers for goalie Antti Raanta.
- June 30, 2015 – acquired forwards Artem Anisimov, Jeremy Morin, Corey Tropp and Marko Dano and a 4th round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft from Columbus for forwards Brandon Saad and Alex Broadhurst and defenseman Mike Paliotta.
- July 6, 2015 – acquired forward Liam Coughlin from Edmonton for goaltender Anders Nilsson.
- July 10, 2015 – acquired defenseman Trevor Daley and forward Ryan Garbutt from Dallas for forward Patrick Sharp and defenseman Stephen Johns.
(DAL will retains of Garbutt’s contract for remainder of 2015-16 and 2016-17 season.)
- September 11, 2015 – acquired defensemen Dennis Robertson and Jake Massie and a 5th round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft from Carolina for forwards Kris Versteeg and Joakim Nordstrom and a 3rd round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.
- December 14, 2015 – acquired defenseman Rob Scuderi from Pittsburgh for defenseman Trevor Daley.
(PIT retains one-third of Scuderi’s contract for remainder of 2015-16 and 2016-17 season.)
Bowman made 11 trades in 2015, the biggest of which were salary cap-motivated moves over the summer that sent Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp packing. Some of the deals will never mean anything to the NHL roster (see Brennan for Abbott), while the jury is still out on others (Clendening for Forsling).
Overall, Bowman had a good – but not great – 2015. It’s hard to say losing could-have-been Hart candidate Patrick Kane to a regular season-ending injury was a blessing, but it handed Bowman the financial flexibility to take the bold steps needed to bolster his lineup for a Cup run – and that run was successful.
Did Bowman overpay to rent Antoine Vermette? On paper, perhaps. But there is a lot that is yet to be written about both Dahlbeck and the pick Arizona received from the Hawks; Chicago has a new banner hanging at the United Center.
The toughest pill to swallow on the trades list is easily the Sharp trade, that also sent a young defenseman many of us were high on to a division rival in exchange for a bundle of parts that haven’t fit on the Blackhawks yet. Bowman does get extra credit for getting both Dallas and Pittsburgh to eat salary in the deals involving Trevor Daley and Ryan Garbutt, however.
At the time, the hardest deal to accept for fans was the Saad deal with Columbus, but now that trade appears to be one of Bowman’s best. Saad and his agent felt he was worth more than the Hawks could afford, putting Chicago in a tough position. Forced to move the young forward on short notice, Bowman was able to bring in the second line center (with size) that the team had longed for over the last few years – and then locked up Anisimov into the future. Adding Dano and an additional fourth round pick for Saad and Paliotta – who, like Johns is still in the minors – makes this deal a potential long-term win for Chicago.
Entering New Year’s Eve, Saad has 14 goals and 12 assists in 38 games for Columbus. Anisimov has 13 goals and seven assists in 38 games.
During the calendar year, the Blackhawks placed four players on waivers. Two of them cleared, two did not.
On March 1, Toronto claimed defenseman Tim Erixon off waivers. The Blackhawks picked up Erixon in a deal for Morin, and then punted on the once highly regarded young defenseman soon after.
On Dec. 6, Arizona claimed forward Viktor Tikhonov off waivers. Tikhonov was signed over the summer because he was Artemi Panarin’s homeboy, but he never found a consistent spot in the lineup. The Hawks put him out there and the team that originally drafted him in the first round fell in love all over again.
Bowman also put Bryan Bickell and David Rundblad on waivers this season, and both cleared. Bickell spent time in Rockford before being called back to the NHL; on Dec. 30, Rundblad was assigned to Rockford.
- February 22 – G Scott Darling to a two-year extension.
- March 21, 2015 – signed F Vince Hinostroza to a three-year contract.
- March 26, 2015 – signed F Kyle Baun to a two-year contract.
- March 26, 2015 – signed D Mike Paliotta to a two-year contract.
- April 2, 2015 – signed F Tanner Kero to a two-year contract.
- April 30, 2015 – signed D Erik Gustafsson to a two-year contract.
- May 1, 2015 – signed F Artemi Panarin to a two-year contract.
- June 29, 2015 – signed D David Rundblad to a two-year contract.
- June 30, 2015 – signed G Michael Leighton to a one-year contract.
- July 1, 2015 – signed F Viktor Tikhonov to a one-year contract.
- July 1, 2015 – signed F Artem Anisimov to a five-year extension.
- July 2, 2015 – signed D Cameron Schilling to a two-year contract.
- July 3, 2015 – signed F Andrew Desjardins to a two-year contract.
- July 7, 2015 – signed D Trevor van Riemsdyk to a two-year extension.
- July 9, 2015 – signed F Dennis Rasmussen to a one-year contract.
- August 5, 2015 – signed D Viktor Svedberg to a one-year contract.
- August 18, 2015 – signed D Nolan Valleau to a two-year contract.
- September 2, 2015 – signed F Joakim Nordstrom to a one-year contract.
- September 11, 2015 – signed F Marcus Kruger to a one-year, $1.5M contract.
- September 19, 2015 – signed D Michal Rozsival to a one-year contract.
- September 26, 2015 – signed D Brent Seabrook to an eight-year, $55M extension.
- October 15, 2015 – signed D Kyle Cumiskey to a one-year contract.
There’s a lot to digest from a long list of free agent deals this year.
Bowman was able to get longer term deals done with Anisimov and Seabrook and retained Darling and van Riemsdyk for two years each at bargain prices. Retaining Kruger proved to take longer than most had hoped, but he was able to keep Desjardins as an insurance policy.
The head scratchers of the year were the two-year deal for Rundblad (award the Clown Shoes Award) and bringing back Rozsival for one more season.
Bowman did a tremendous job in getting Panarin to Chicago, and quietly getting Gustafsson to sign a two-year deal was also a great addition to the organization.
What can we take away from this entire list of moves? Two significant items.
- The Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2015
- The Blackhawks enter 2016 with (some) salary cap flexibility
Since taking over as GM, Bowman has been fighting an uphill climb financially. But he has successfully managed to take the organization that had little to promote after the exodus of 2010 back to the Cup Final twice, winning both times. There was a Conference Final trip between the 2013 and 2015 Cup wins as well.
As we enter 2016, there are youngsters on the NHL roster – Shaw, Teravainen, Danault – who were drafted under Bowman’s watch who are making an impact. And there are other players on the NHL roster – Panarin, Gustafsson, Rasmussen – who were identified by the European scouts and signed who are also playing significant roles right now.
Best move of 2015 – signing Panarin as a free agent
Best quiet move of 2015 – getting Desjardins for Smith
Worst move of 2015 – giving Rundblad a two-year extension
Worst quiet move of 2015 – sending Nilsson to Edmonton for Coughlin.
Most intriguing move of 2015 – Clendening for Forsling
- Click here for a complete list of every move made by Bowman as GM of the Blackhawks.