The Chicago Blackhawks can only get back to competing for the Stanley Cup the way they originally got there, and that’s through the draft
I don’t envy Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman’s job at all. Yes, there he has been a part of a very successful time in Blackhawks history, but not without the pressure of keeping it all together. And much like a business, Bowman has the job of keeping multiple stakeholders happy throughout the process — and it hasn’t been easy.
There has been a lot of disappointment in Chicago with the Blackhawks missing the playoffs for the first time in almost 10 years and being eliminated in the first round in the two years prior. Yet Bowman rarely has had a spike in emotion.
‘Hawks fans have had the luxury of having a GM that no matter the current situation of the team, he tends to make the smart move. He’s not perfect in any regard, but his moves always seem to be a part of a long-term plan.
Today, the ‘Hawks are in a unique situation with an aging core group of players and a group of talented but inexperienced young players. Call it a transition, a rebuild or retool, the ‘Hawks finally ran out of magic and it caught up with them.
The most notable problem has been the defensive core. NBC analyst and former Blackhawk Eddie Olczyk has been vocal about fixing the problem for the team to be successful, but it’s never an easy fix.
The ‘Hawks are well aware of the problem, hence their investment in top defensive prospects in their recent drafts, but their development doesn’t happen overnight. Bowman is looking to fix the problem long term and not just throw a ton of money at a free agent hoping that will be the solution.
Before free agency started, there were several names writers and analysts thought could be good fits on the Blackhawks, but that day came and went. Everybody was up in arms about the ‘Hawks standing pat, but this has to be part of the plan.
Bowman knows who he wants as the next core of the Blackhawks, and every other signing right now is temporary. It feels like right we’re waiting for that new core to show up at the train station but the arrival time is 2020.
But rest assured, the plan of developing is working. The ‘Hawks have finally built their prospect pool back up and are moving players through the ranks. Prospects are coming into the system and being put in opportunities to succeed. Whether that’s getting more ice time in Indianapolis with The Fuel, like Matt Iacopelli did, or coming down from the ‘Hawks to develop in Rockford, like John Hayden did, players are getting the chance to hone their craft.
As the drafts continue and these prospects keep rounding out their games, there will be a hit or two that will contribute to the Chicago Blackhawks. It’s difficult to know whether it will be first-rounder Henri Jokiharju or a later-round pick, but fans should feel better about the development of players today.