Analysis

Reviewing Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman’s 2017 Moves

By Sean Fitzgerald
EDMONTON, AB - DECEMBER 29: John Hayden
EDMONTON, AB - DECEMBER 29: John Hayden /
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NEWARK, NJ – DECEMBER 23: Connor Murphy
NEWARK, NJ – DECEMBER 23: Connor Murphy /

June 9

The Blackhawks signed Jan Rutta to a one-year, $1.36 million contract

Review: Jan Rutta played well during training camp and earned his spot on the Blackhawks to start the year. He has been in the defensive rotation all season long. This was a great signing for the Blackhawks, who were lacking defensive depth.

Grade: B

June 23

The Blackhawks acquired Laurent Dauphin and Connor Murphy from Arizona for Niklas Hjalmarsson

Review: This move was for the future and not the present. Hjalmarsson was arguably the team’s best defenseman, and they traded him for a young defender with potential in Murphy. The reason Bowman did it was for cost certainty for the future.

Hjalmarsson was under contract for two more seasons and going to get a bigger payday. He currently has a cap hit of $4.1 million for the next two years, and Murphy’s cap hit is $3.85 million through 2021-22. Bowman was looking to the future on this deal.

With all that being said, Bowman put himself in this situation. He doled out some bad contracts that forced him to trade his best assets. Murphy has been playing all right on his off-handed side, but he is not Hjalmarsson.

Grade: D

June 23

The Blackhawks acquired Brandon Saad, Anton Forsberg and a 2018 fifth-round pick for Artemi Panarin, Tyler Motte and a 2017 sixth-round pick.

Review: This move was for the present and the future. The Blackhawks wanted a forward who could help get Jonathan Toews back on track. The ‘Hawks had not been able to fill the void left by Saad on the top line when they traded him to Columbus. Who best to fill his own hole? Saad also is under contract for a cap hit of $6 million a year through 2020-21.

Panarin was under contract for $6 million per for the next two seasons and helped Patrick Kane have the best offensive seasons of his career. While Panarin was a dynamic scorer, people rationalized the deal because of his one-way ability. One would also say that the team was too “cute” with Panarin on the roster.

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  • Thus far, Panarin has been doing Panarin-like things in Columbus while Saad has been a disappointment. The plus side is the ‘Hawks have more time with Saad.

    Grade: D

    June 26

    The Blackhawks signed Tomas Jurco to a one-year, $800,000 contract

    Review: Jurco was tendered a contract after some speculation the ‘Hawks would non-tender him. Since Bowman surrendered a draft pick for him, the ‘Hawks were going to offer him a contract. Jurco has been a bust since joining the ‘Hawks, though he was called up from the IceHogs on Monday.

    Grade: F 

    June 26

    The Blackhawks signed Anton Forsberg to a two-year, $1.5 million contract extension

    Review: The ‘Hawks acquired Forsberg in the Saad deal. Forsberg was slated to be the backup to Corey Crawford. He has been forced into action as Crawford is on IR. Thus far, the results have not been that good.

    Grade: B

    June 27

    The Blackhawks signed Jean-Francois Berube to a two-year, $1.5 million contract

    Review: The ‘Hawks were lacking goaltending depth last year. Berube was brought in to the organization to challenge for the backup goalie position and add depth at Rockford. He has appeared in one NHL game this season and 13 games at Rockford.

    Grade: A

    June 27

    The Blackhawks signed Ville Pokka to a one-year, $650,000 contract

    Review: Pokka has played well in Rockford during his tenure with organization. He, however, has not earned a start in the NHL. He was recalled once this year to be another body, according to Joel Quenneville. I look forward to the ‘Hawks trying to trade Pokka this year.

    Grade: N/A

    July 1

    The Blackhawks signed Tommy Wingels, Lance Bouma and Jordan Oesterle to contracts

    Reviews: All three players have been playing well this season. Wingels and Bouma have been staples on the fourth line, while Oesterle finally is getting a chance to play on regular basis. The Wingels and Bouma additions were for one season and were to add depth to the bottom six. Oesterle was brought in for depth on defense.

    Grade: A 

    July 1

    The Blackhawks signed Patrick Sharp to a one-year, $800,000 contract

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    Review: Bowman loves bringing back former ‘Hawks. He did it again with Sharp. If history tells anything, the return of former ‘Hawks does not go well. Andrew Ladd, Kris Versteeg, Brian Campbell and Johnny Oduya all did not work. Sharp will be the next name on this list.  Sharp has not been productive this season. He has looked old and slow this season.

    Grade: F

    July 2

    The Blackhawks traded Marcus Kruger for future considerations to the Vegas Golden Knights

    Review: The Blackhawks needed to dump a contract to get under the salary cap this year. Bowman had given Kruger a three-year, $9.25 million contract in 2016-17. This was a gross overpayment for a guy who doesn’t score much. The ‘Hawks worked out a deal with the Knights where they would draft Trevor van Riemsdyk and take on Kruger’s salary. The ‘Hawks got nothing in return.

    Grade: F

    July 15

    The Blackhawks signed Erik Gustafsson to a one-year, $650,000 contract

    Review: Gustafsson re-signed with the ‘Hawks with hope of returning to the NHL. He has not played in the NHL since 2015-16. He was a depth signing for the ‘Hawks. He has appeared in 24 games with the IceHogs this season.

    Grade: C 

    July 28

    The Blackhawks signed Collin Delia to a two-year, $1.85 million contract

    Reviews: Delia had been to several prospect camps with the ‘Hawks. The ‘Hawks liked what they saw and signed him to a two-year ELC. He has played with Rockford and Indy this season. He is a development goalie for the future.

    Grade: N/A

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