The Chicago Blackhawks have the opportunity to make a splash this offseason and Stan Bowman sounds like a man intent on doing so. Here’s why they can’t afford to let this opportunity pass them by.
The Chicago Blackhawks are in a significantly better space heading into this summer than they were last summer. For starters, NBC Sports Chicago’s Charlie Roumeliotis projected that they will have $15 million in cap space this summer, if not more.
(That’s a lot).
Additionally, the team is trending upwards heading into next season as opposed to the downward spiral they experienced at the end of the 2017-18 year. After they became better acclimated playing under coach Jeremy Colliton, this team was dangerously close to slipping into a playoff spot. The will was there, but the personnel simply was not.
This season saw the emergence of a few young guys into the new Chicago Blackhawks “core,” however they’re going to need help from the outside, too. Fortunately, in one of Roumeliotis’s recent articles Stan Bowman sounded like someone who knew this to be true:
"“I would expect us to be more active in the summer free agent market than we have in years past,” Bowman said on Sunday during exit interviews. “First of all, we have the cap flexibility to do that. We haven’t been in this position before. This is probably the first time ever we’ve had this much money to spend. Doesn’t mean we’re going to spend all of it on July 1. We have to sort of look over the next horizon of years and plan for that but we weren’t in this position a year ago or two years ago. We were shopping in a different marketplace. We have the capability to look at that and we’re going to look at trades as well."
After a year in which the Chicago Blackhawks offseason moves were signing 39-year old Chris Kunitz, Cam Ward and Brandon Manning, it would be hard not to be more active this summer with $15 mil in cap space.
Jokes aside, the free agent market wasn’t great last year and most teams that did land a big name overpaid. Bowman avoided that mistake and, should a similar situation arise this offseason, hopefully he avoids doing so again.
That could be a likely scenario, especially given the Chicago Blackhawks most burning need is defense and only four of CapFriendly’s top pending free agents are defensemen. As a result, trades might be this team’s best bet in improving defensively this offseason. Bowman didn’t sound apprehensive about the idea, either.
"“Sometimes that’s another way. Depends on what players you’re looking for, if they’re available in the summer, sometimes they are and sometimes you have to do it through trades. There will be some moving parts but I wouldn’t expect sweeping changes. I think we’ve got a lot of good things here and we showed that our last 50 games we played some really good hockey. We’re trying to build on that, not really change it dramatically.”"
These two quotes should be music to Chicago Blackhawks fans’ ears. They’re not only willing to spend money or make trades, but they’re legitimately preparing to do so.
The Chicago Blackhawks have money, young players on the rise and a core who recently proved they can still perform at elite levels. After 30-year old Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews put together career-best seasons on a team full of flaws, if there’s ever a time to go all in, it’s now.
The hope is that Bowman not only does so, but manages to without handing out contracts which could hurt the team in the long-term. Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome will need to get paid soon and this is already on Bowman’s radar.
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It will be an interesting summer for our Chicago Blackhawks; one they cannot afford to let go to waste.