A week ago, the Blackhawks had limited cap space and were probably going to have to trade Teuvo Teravainen to get anything significant done before the trade deadline. And, as long as Bryan Bickell was with the organization, the options the Hawks had to make a significant upgrade to their NHL roster were limited.
Insert a couple really good days from Stan Bowman.
1st round pick – 2016
2nd round pick – 2018
3rd round pick – 2018
As the Blackhawks approach the stretch run, Bowman has overhauled the lineup while only giving up one NHL roster player – Danault, a rookie. We’re now looking at a potential lineup of:
And this lineup is without Marcus Kruger, who hopefully returns to center the fourth line in the playoffs.
We aren’t saying Bowman fleeced the league thus far, however.
Montreal got a really, really good young center for a couple veteran free agents-to-be in a dead season. Habs fans should be excited to have Danault coming into the mix.
Winnipeg fans will get to see Dano in action this weekend; he’s already been recalled by the Jets. It isn’t easy to trade your captain, but bringing back a highly touted – and wanted – prospect helps ease the pain.
Dano and Danault were two of the top prospects in the organization, and everyone liked what Danault had brought to the table in 30 games this season. And moving three high draft picks isn’t an easy proposition, either.
Bowman paid a premium to get some significant pieces onto his club for another Cup run.
But he did that last year with Antoine Vermette and Kimmo Timonen. While Timonen didn’t amount to much (read: nothing) and cost the Hawks two second round picks, the Hawks won it all. And that’s the point, isn’t it? To win?
Over the last few years, we’ve been surprised on countless occasions when the Blackhawks have parted ways with prospects. Klas Dahlbeck, Mike Paliotta, Stephen Johns, Adam Clendening, Brandon Pirri and Jimmy Hayes have all been dealt over the last couple years. Some – Hayes, Dahlbeck – have enjoyed some relative success at the NHL level while the likes of Johns, Clendening and Paliotta have struggled to get a look at the highest level.
But, even with all of those top prospects shipped out, the Hawks have continued to win.
Bowman has been able to sustain the loss of draft picks by signing rookie free agents.
Artemi Panarin is a front-runner for the Calder Trophy this year and he didn’t have an NHL contract 12 months ago. Erik Gustafsson and Dennis Rasmussen were also signed as free agents out of Europe in the last couple years, and they’re both making an impact on the NHL roster (for now).
Part of the magic has been Bowman bringing in players from the college ranks, either as free agents or Hawks draft picks, as well.
After a couple years at Notre Dame, Vince Hinostroza is playing well in Rockford this season and has seen some NHL action. The Hawks also have a couple of the top offensive players in the NCAA coming soon in Michigan’s Tyler Motte and North Dakota’s Nick Schmaltz. John Hayden, Fredrik Olofsson and Dennis Gilbert are also worth keeping an eye on in the college ranks moving forward.
Bowman has been able to supplement the organization’s depth with college free agents like Tanner Kero, Nolan Valleau and Kyle Baun.
The point being, Bowman has moved a couple young players who appear to have a very bright future. And he’s moved some high draft picks – again. But the Blackhawks haven’t missed a beat as an organization, and have every reason to go all-in while Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith and others are still in the prime of their careers.
Adding the likes of Ladd and Weise give the Hawks size and speed in positions they needed it three days ago. What the future holds for the prospects and picks Bowman dealt out the door is an unwrittern story, but the rest of the league has been put on notice that Chicago has every expectation to be around when Gary Bettman presents the Stanley Cup in June again this year.