Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has shown little ability to accurately assess his talent on the defensive side
Last week I was given hope by an article from The Athletic’s Scott Powers on how the Chicago Blackhawks will have salary cap space next season. Powers wrote the ‘Hawks might have cap space to fix the blue line.
That was last week. Then, general manager Stan Bowman re-signed Erik Gustafsson to a two-year contract at $1.025 million per year. That is a raise from his present two-way, $625,000 deal. I’ll be honest — I did not want Gustfasson back, and the raise made me scratch my head. I wasn’t nearly as upset as some people, though.
That was until Thursday. While I thought Jan Rutta should be brought back, I thought he would be brought back at a price less than $2 million per year. I was wrong again.
Bowman inked him to a $2.25 million, one-year contract. Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times believes both players could have been had for much less. The ‘Hawks now have committed $3.45 million to Gustafsson and Rutta. The defense as a whole now has a combined cap hit of $20,363,462 for next season.
So now, after wrapping my head around both contracts, I’ve come to three conclusions. One, Bowman doesn’t have a clue about contracts. Bowman now has a proven track record of overpaying the wrong guys — Bryan Bickell, Marcus Kruger, Brent Seabrook, Jan Rutta and Erik Gustafsson among them.
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Also at issue …
The second thing I realized is that Bowman does not have a clue about his defense. His defense that does not block shots, can’t move the puck and does not move people off the puck is coming back next season intact.
Yet, he is bringing every one of them back next season. I am just waiting for Cody Franson to get a new a NHL contract.
Teams in the Central Division, I’m sure, are overjoyed by the ‘Hawks’ recent signings.
Powers spoke with a league source on the ‘Hawks’ defense:
"The Blackhawks’ defense has been an issue this season, and changes were expected to come. As one league source recently said, “If they bring back the same defense, they’re screwed.”"
So the Blackhawks are screwed next season.
Not to mention …
The third thing I realized is that the Blackhawks do not have any potential young defensemen on the horizon.
Gustav Forsling is probably not the answer on defense based on this season. Carl Dahlstrom has been below average to average since joining the ‘Hawks. Luc Snuggerud could get a look in training camp next year, but the ‘Hawks are clearly are not sold. Darren Raddysh is on an AHL contract and probably needs more AHL time.
While Henri Jokiharju believes he could be ready to play in the NHL next season, only the super-special defensemen make the jump to the NHL at 19. I believe he has potential, but might need another year in the WHL.
Unless the Blackhawks get very lucky in the draft lottery and Bowman does not screw it up, the ‘Hawks are going to be in a sad state on the blue line in 2018-19.