Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks: Savvy Stan Bowman’s Next Move

By Sean Fitzgerald
Jan 17, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Richard Panik (14) celebrates his goal against the Montreal Canadiens during the first period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 17, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Richard Panik (14) celebrates his goal against the Montreal Canadiens during the first period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /
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When Richard Panik scored the first goal against the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday, Chicago Blackhawks General Manager Stan Bowman probably smiled. His smile probably got bigger when they announced Erik Gustafsson had the primary assist on the Panik goal. The Blackhawks are currently in the midst of an 11-game winning streak. The streak has tied a franchise record. In a season in which the Blackhawks were supposed to struggle, Bowman has made moves to help stave it off.

In a year full of savvy moves, Panik was the most recent acquisition to pay dividends for the Blackhawks. Bowman continues to prove how savvy he and his front office are. This season, the Blackhawks have gotten goals from nine players that were not on the main roster last season. That is a testament to organizational depth (Brandon Mashinter and Phillip Danault), free agent signings (Artemi Panarin, Dennis Rasmussen, Erik Gustafsson, Tanner Kero Viktor Svedberg,) and trades (Artem Anisimov, Ryan Garbutt, Marko Dano, Panik).

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After demoting Bryan Bickell to Rockford earlier this week, the Blackhawks have added $950,000 to their salary cap space. Bowman now has $2,264,246 to use in a deadline deal. Last season, Bowman was able to pull off separate trades for Antoine Vermette and Kimmo Timonen. Barring some kind of injury, Bowman will have to pull off a move similar to years past. He acquired Chris Campoli in 2010-11, Johnny Oduya in 2011-12, Michal Handzus in 2012-13 and David Rundblad in 2013-14.  Those are smaller changes to the roster. And despite reports from Elliotte Freidman, Brandon Saad is unlikely to be reacquired by the Blackhawks.

My speculation would be the Blackhawks target some veteran depth defensemen for their playoff run. My first guess would be Adam Pardy or Jay Harrison from the Winnipeg Jets. The Jets will need to be sellers at the trade deadline. The Blackhawks can trade drafts picks, which the Jets desperately need. Both guys are older and more experienced defensemen and could provide depth on the blueline. Another name to watch out for is Yannick Weber of the Vancouver Canucks. Weber is a free agent to be due $1.5 million and is viewed a versatile offensive defenseman with upside. The Canucks are in rebuilding mode and have to start looking toward the future.

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Those are just players that could be appealing to the Blackhawks because of their salary cap numbers and position they play. While I am adept at playing checkers, Bowman appears to playing chess. He is always thinking three moves ahead of everyone.

The NHL trade deadline is February 29. What do you think Bowman will do before or on that date? Let us know in the comments section.

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