The offseason for the NHL is still in swing, and the Chicago Blackhawks still have some moves to make. Still, now feels like a good time to review and grade what Stan Bowman and the Chicago front office have done since winning their third championship banner in six seasons.
Brandon Saad Trade
This one probably still hurts for most ’Hawks fans, as Saad was viewed as part of the future in Chicago. But I don’t think anybody saw Saad getting an AAV of $6 million, and the ’Hawks weren’t that far off with offering him an AAV of $5 million. While some will hate that Saad is no longer with the team, credit needs to be given to Bowman for not getting caught with his pants down. Very easily Saad could have been given an offer sheet by Columbus and all the ’Hawks would have been left with is draft compensation, and a big hole on their roster for 2015-16.
Instead, Bowman got a second-line center that Patrick Kane has been longing for in Artem Anisimov and a prospect that should have a big impact this season in Marko Dano. These are two pieces that can help now and in the future, especially after the ’Hawks locked up Anismov for the long term. It wasn’t ideal, but it’s still a lot better than the worst-case scenario, and the ’Hawks made out pretty well with some nice roster pieces.
Da Windy City
Patrick Sharp Trade
After the Saad move, there was still a need for some salary to be dumped. Sharp was the obvious candidate, but when he wasn’t moved at the draft, it seemed like Bowman was going to have to get creative or move another bigger salary. Enter the Dallas Stars. It was a hockey move, and it didn’t create that much salary space for the ’Hawks. Trevor Daley was brought in, making Johnny Oduya obsolete.
Bowman didn’t play his Sharp hand in the best way, with the asking price being rather high at the the time of the draft. Taking a package of picks over Daley may have been a better option, at least in terms of cap space for this season. Daley’s possession numbers aren’t the greatest, but he’s never played alongside guys like Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson, so let’s not judge too much just yet. Because of the limited cap relief, there is still another cap move coming. Kris Versteeg and Bryan Bickell are the two most likely names to go.
The Curious Case of Marcus Kruger
Left is Kruger, still without a contract offer. It seems that Kruger and the ’Hawks have verbally agreed to some terms. Whenever Bowman can create the cap space, Kruger will sign with the ’Hawks. It’s really interesting though that Kruger hasn’t been given an offer sheet by any teams, knowing the ’Hawks’ current cap situation. Very easily, a team could price the ’Hawks out of the Kruger market. Kruger certainly has value to the ’Hawks, so the draft pick compensation wouldn’t be ideal.
But still, the inactivity leads me to believe that Kruger is just waiting for the ’Hawks to get their ducks in a row (goodbye Vertseeg/Bickell), and then the contract will be signed.
Final (for now) Grade
It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t awful. There are still some pieces in the system. The defensive prospect cabinet is pretty bare, and will probably need some reconstruction. Still, the ’Hawks’ Stanley Cup window is now, and these moves do help now. Bowman still has a number of seasons to rework and get the system back intact, and if the cap continues to go up, he will have an easier time moving pieces. Because I’m banking on Kruger being kept aboard, with either Vertseeg or Bickell on the way out, my final grade for the offseason to date is B-.
What is your grade for the Chicago Blackhawks offseason so far?
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