Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks’ Retooling Now Points to Defense

By Stephen Yatsushiro
CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 10: Stan Bowman, Chicago Blackhawks senior vice president and general manager, speaks to the media in between periods of the game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Minnesota Wild at the United Center on January 10, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 10: Stan Bowman, Chicago Blackhawks senior vice president and general manager, speaks to the media in between periods of the game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Minnesota Wild at the United Center on January 10, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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CHICAGO, IL – NOVEMBER 27: Chicago Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton looks on in third period action during a NHL game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Vegas Golden Knights on November 27, 2018 at the United Center, in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

What to do, what to do

So what can Stan Bowman do to salvage this season?

Should he even try?

Duncan Keith is signed through 2023 with a cap hit of $5,538,462. This is a great deal for a solid number-2/second-pair defenseman. This makes him the most trade-able player on the team. On the other hand, Brent Seabrook is signed through 2024 at a whopping $6,875,000 per year. He and his contract are not marketable without the ‘Hawks retaining a large portion of his salary.

Also, don’t forget about the infamous no movement clauses for both players.

Another intriguing trade bait could be Artem Anisimov. As BlackhawkUp’s Sam Boland wrote in his article, Anisimov is sliding down the center depth chart with the acquisition of Strome and the ascendance of David Kampf. Furthermore, Anisimov has a modified no-trade clause in which he can name 10 teams he can be traded to.

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But a funny thing happened on the way to the trade block.

In the loss to the Winnipeg Jets Thursday night, Anisimov was inserted again between Alex DeBrincat and Kane after beginning the game as the fourth line center. And, as these things go, he scored a picturesque goal. Colliton has said, “You don’t get more than you deserve”, and Anisimov proved how hard work pays off.

With a team struggling to establish a foundation to build on, Stan Bowman has a good Agatha Christie mystery to solve. Whodunnit and who will be the next to go? And are there any teams willing to trade away a top level defenseman at this point of the season?

Here’s one hint for clue seekers: the Toronto Maple Leafs are facing cap hell at the end of this season and may have to trade some players of value.

The truth hurts

After Thursday night’s 6-5 loss to the Winnipeg Jets, coach Jeremy Colliton was visibly perturbed by his team’s lack of urgency and inability to play cohesively. Once again, mental lapses on defense put his team into a hole they could never climb out of, despite a late third period surge.

And so, the truth will out. The Chicago Blackhawks travel will head south to take on the Central Division’s first place Nashville Predators on Saturday night. From Colliton’s terse responses, you can predict that no one will be held sacred and that smart, urgency-laden play will be expected.

His discussions with Stan Bowman regarding player evaluations will not include any bias toward the players. If anything, Colliton may be biased toward IceHogs players in Rockford because of his familiarity with them.

The pit and the pendulum

During the stretch of games leading into the Christmas break, the Chicago Blackhawks will be facing off against some fierce competition.  Our friend @StacyAlbano posed a good question last week about whether the ‘Hawks can still be a playoff team:

The pendulum swings both ways.

Next. Could Artem Anisimov Be The Next Blackhawk Traded?. dark

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So Blackhawks fans, should Stan Bowman try to salvage this season with some more trades, or should he simply concentrate on rebuilding this team?  Bowman has certainly fouled up the original plan to keep rejuvenating the core, but managed to somewhat veer back on track with the Schmaltz trade.

Is it too late to recover during the Toews-Kane Era, or is it time to start all over? I’ll sit down and listen for the answers.

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