Editorials

Chicago Blackhawks’ Stan Bowman Has Altered His Long-Term Plan

By Sean Fitzgerald
OTTAWA, ON - JANUARY 9: Ryan Hartman
OTTAWA, ON - JANUARY 9: Ryan Hartman /
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OTTAWA, ON – JANUARY 9: Ryan Hartman
OTTAWA, ON – JANUARY 9: Ryan Hartman /

The Chicago Blackhawks have chased championships for the last several years with a singular formula in mind, but the team’s general manager seems to have switched up that idea

Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman made a realization this season. He realized the Blackhawks needed to make a change in philosophy. He realized the ‘Hawks were a veteran-laden team with no speed, making it difficult to compete in today’s NHL. And so, Bowman decided he would shake up the roster to see if the team could make another run at the Stanley Cup.

He shook up the roster when he acquired Connor Murphy and Brandon Saad for Artemi Panarin and Niklas Hjalmarsson in the offseason. While people rationalized the deal as a way to help Jonathan Toews get back on track, I believed that it was for the cost certainty of the two incoming players and their youth.

The ‘Hawks also added super-prospect Alex DeBrincat to the roster to start the season. DeBrincat is 20 years old.

As the ‘Hawks started the season off very well, Bowman must have thought his plan was working. He would get one last one Cup run out of the ‘Hawks. However, reality set in. The ‘Hawks are not good enough to win it all as constructed.

The days of trading away draft picks and young prospects like Phillip Danualt for a rental player are gone. If anything, the future for the ‘Hawks might be trading rental players for draft picks and prospects.

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Bowman’s commitment to change

With the Blackhawks at the bottom of the Central Division, Bowman set out to getting younger and faster.  These were the staples of the Blackhawks’ most-recent championship teams.

He called up Vinnie Hinostroza on Dec. 8. Hinostroza has been a force on the top line since returning to the ‘Hawks.

The coaching staff inserted Jordan Oesterle into the lineup on Dec. 21, and he has played every night since. Bowman then recalled Erik Gustafsson from Rockford and sent down Cody Franson for two simple reasons: Gustafsson is younger and faster than Franson. To be fair to Franson, he has been playing well this season and is hoping to be recalled or traded to another team. 

Bowman then did the impossible: he moved underperforming Richard Panik and his bloated contract for a younger, faster player in Anthony Duclair. Duclair was once considered the future in Arizona, and he’s now among the Blackhawks’ bottom-six forwards.

After those moves, the ‘Hawks now have 13 players at 25 years of age or younger. The players are DeBrincat (20), Anton Forsberg (25), Gustav Forsling (21), Gustafsson (25), Ryan Hartman (23), Hinostroza (23), David Kampf (22), Murphy (24), Oesterle (25), Nick Schmaltz (21), Brandon Saad (25) and Tomas Jurco (25).

The list does not include John Hayden (22) Tanner Kero (25), but hopefully it will include Dylan Sikura (22) later. The Blackhawks still plan on adding Sikura this season despite no current opening for him.

Next: Blackhawks Of Present May Be As Good As It Gets

Bowman now has a young core to go with his older stars, and there will be more players to come. The ‘Hawks have young prospects like Alex Fortin, Tim Soderlund, Henri Jokiharju and Chad Krys on the horizon. We should all start to embrace the youth movement, because Stan has.

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