Chicago Blackhawks’ Stan Bowman Deserves Support During Retooling

Stan Bowman, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Stan Bowman, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Retooling the roster

Looking at the roster that got swept out of the 2017 playoffs by the Nashville Predators, Bowman knew he had to make changes. He probably also knew with the restrictions he had that these changes were not necessarily going to make the Blackhawks better right away.

One thing that has been noted by many is that both big names he traded off only had two years left on their contracts. The $6 million Panarin is earning and the $4.1 million AAV contract Hjalmarsson is on are only expected to increase at the end of the 2018-19 season. Bowman knew he would be unlikely to sign one, if not both players in two years and looked at this offseason as the right time to move them.

And while you may be upset to see them go, Bowman was able to return quality talent with longer contracts and attributes the ‘Hawks were missing from their roster. We will have to wait and see if Connor Murphy can transform into a top-four defenseman and if Saad will be the same player returning as the one who left, but Bowman believes both will become core pieces in the new Blackhawks roster.

Judging by Bowman’s talent evaluation over the years, I will not be quick to doubt him.

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If he is right, the pair will cost the ‘Hawks $250,000 less and be signed for a combined five additional years. As I talked about in a previous article about Toews and Kane’s contracts, the salary cap has steadily increased $2 million per year over the last four years. If that continues, by the last year of Saad’s deal (Murphy is signed one year longer), the Blackhawks will have an additional $6 million to work with.

The noteworthy players who will have contracts up before the final year of Saad’s deal: Crawford, Richard Panik, Nick Schmaltz and Ryan Hartman.

So while you may not be thrilled with the current roster assembled, the fact is that the Blackhawks will have Toews, Kane, Keith, Seabrook, Artem Anisimov, Saad and Murphy signed over the next four years. That’s $48 million for these seven players on what could be around an $81 million salary cap going into 2021-22.

The fact is, this puts the ‘Hawks in a much better position with the salary cap moving forward and gives you room to re-sign players who have expiring contracts while finding additional options in free agency.