Thursday, July 4, 2019

Does Bowman's Busy Off-season Have Another Firework Left?

By Randy Holndoner - @Bhawkschatter

Stan Bowman has never been one to sit idle during an off-season, especially when he actually HAS money to spend.  Bowman addressed the two biggest problems that plagued the team last year, defense, and depth.

The Chicago Blackhawks ended last year giving up the second most goals in the entire league, 292 goals.  Bowman didn't look to free agency to fill those needs.  Instead, he went via the trade market. 

He brought defensemen, Olli Maatta, from the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Calvin de Haan, from the Carolina Hurricanes.  Both bring a defensive-minded game to a team that desperately needs it.  They play a similar game to that of Connor Murphy  Both average nearly 19 minutes of ice time a game, and both are six-year veterans in the league.

Having over 360+ games to each of their names is a huge benefit for the Blackhawks that have relied on numerous young players to develop quicker than anticipated and expected to produce.

Another hidden gem in all of this, is that each player is still under contract for the next three years.  No contract negotiations to bicker about.  Just go play hockey.

A familiar face came back via the trade route, which many fans on twitter seemed to dislike.  Andrew Shaw, 27, a gritty forward, who can win half of his face-offs, battle in the corners, and brings net presence for juicy rebounds.

There is instantly a concern for a player gone, only to come back and not produce (Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya).  The difference with Shaw coming back, is that he is not expected to be anything more than a 3rd line center/winger.  Although he can play on any line, the expectations are not that of him being a Messiah that will bring home the Stanley Cup, which he was a part of with this team twice ('13, '15).

And again, as with Maatta and de Haan, Shaw is still signed for the next three years.  Some worry that it could be a negative, rather than a bonus with years remaining on a contract, not knowing what to expect.

But with the addition of Shaw, Ryan Carpenter, who did come in as a free agent, helps give depth to the bottom six forward slot, and also strengthens the penalty kill unit, and someone who can win face-offs.

Then, which seemed to come out of nowhere, Bowman signed Vezina Trophy Candidate, and Masterson Trophy winner, Robin Lehner, to a one-year, $5mil contract.  This signing caused a hailstorm of thoughts as to why.  Is Corey Crawford still injured?  Will he be traded?  Will they put him in long-term IR, as they did with Marian Hossa, and use his $6mil for one last free agent splash?  Why sign Lehner, when Collin Delia, who arguably could use another year in the minors, was signed to a three-year extension at the end of last year?

Regardless, with a healthy Crawford and Lehner, a much updated defense, and depth at forward, the Blackhawks could make a run for the playoffs.  They missed the playoffs by only six points last year.

So the circulating question now is, does Bowman have yet another trick up his sleeve?  trade rumors of Artem Anisimov and Brandon Saad are still being tossed around.  As to who they would get, some say that he will trade for more depth and possibly picks.  

Ryan Dzingel is an attractive free agent that could replace Anisimov's contract.  A local player, 27, Dzingel would be another depth player that could land him a three-four year deal.

Bowman says that there are minor things left to do with the roster, but his phone is always open.  Time will tell if there is more to come, but the Blackhawks have made some very solid moves to put them into contention to make their way back to the playoffs.

Let's Go Hawks!

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