After the Chicago Blackhawks dropped a laughable affair to the Boston Bruins on home ice Sunday, GM Stan Bowman decided to shake things up.
Ryan Hartman, Joakim Nordstrom, Scott Darling, and Antti Raanta will be swapping jerseys come the start of the week, though it will only be the Blackhawks’ uniforms and their affiliates, the Rockford IceHogs. No one is on the move anywhere just yet, save the hour-long drive down I-90 W.
After Bowman’s actions following the reassignment of those four players, however, that may soon change.
Not one hour after Darling was called to replace Raanta as the back-up to Corey Crawford in Chicago, the Blackhawks signed the Illinois native to a two-year contract extension. It seems the writing is on the wall for Raanta.
The Blackhawks have had a solid year through their entire organization in the goaltending position, save the last couple of games with regards to Crawford. Michael Leighton has been strong all year in Rockford, and both Darling and Raanta have been solid in their appearances at both the AHL and NHL levels.
With the Blackhawks struggling down the NHL regular season’s final stretch, (2-2-3 in their last 7 games, all at the United Center) however, it may be time for Bowman to trade away one of his pawns in order to acquire some reinforcement, particularly on the blue-line.
Bowman hasn’t always felt this way, however.
With all the stars lining up, it’s looking more and more likely that Raanta’s days within the Blackhawks’ organization is numbered. With Raanta’s fate a near certainty, it’s time to focus on possible destinations for the Finnish goaltender, and who might be going with him.
The latter could include the likes of Andrew Shaw. Shaw hasn’t been his old self this year, only on pace for 21 points, far fewer than the career-high 39 he posted a year ago. He will also not come close to his plus-minus rating from last season; he is currently a minus-10, compared to the +12 rating he finished the 2013-14 regular season with.
With both players in the first year of two-year contracts, they could be integral pieces for a team building for success down the road.
The Carolina Hurricanes certainly come to mind. Out-of conference, the Hurricanes also possess the one thing the Blackhawks are searching for; a defenseman. Andrej Sekera is an intriguing piece for any team looking to make a playoff push, and the Blakchawks certainly fit that mold. With the Tim Erixon experiment chalked up as a loss, and Johnny Oduya out of the lineup for some time due to injury, it’s all coming together in front of the Blackhawks’ fans eyes, very slowly.
Time will be the main factor in this potential trade situation, and expect a result to come sooner, rather than later. Until then, Blackhawks fans will be on their toes near the trade deadline, something they haven’t felt in years.
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