A Bowman trade for the Blackhawks that doesn’t get the credit it deserves
By Shaun Filippelli
Stan Bowman has been under immense pressure to turn things around for this Chicago Blackhawks franchise, making a multitude of moves along the way.
On July 14, 2009, Stan Bowman was named the General Manager for the Chicago Blackhawks. That following season, his team hoisted the 2010 Stanley Cup, achieving what the franchise hadn’t since 1961. And their city certainly showed up to help them celebrate.
With such success, Bowman was shot even further into Chicago’s spotlight alongside other names that became synonymous with his team, like Joel Quenneville or Jonathan Toews.
Even amidst less than ideal moves, which forced the franchise to part ways with proven playoff performers such as Dustin Byfuglien and Kris Versteeg, fans found it easy to look the other way as long as the narrative was still telling a successful story.
When the Chicago Blackhawks kept winning as much as they were, after capturing the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013, and 2015 and becoming the newest modern-day dynasty, it was easy to keep looking ahead to what would be won next instead of what was lost along the way.
However, that focus has shifted with the lack of results in recent seasons.
Following their 2015 Stanley Cup victory, the Blackhawks haven’t seen the level of accomplishments they had quickly become accustomed to.
With less success, more scrutiny was bound to follow, especially as it relates to Bowman and the moves he’s responsible for in an effort to make this team better.
There is no shortage of trade history that Stan Bowman has been responsible for over the last 10 seasons with this club. Some have been outright wins, while others have proven to be infamous losses.
What was once easy to overlook was becoming impossible to ignore. Every move Bowman was making was being picked apart, analyzed, and judged. All that winning wasn’t getting in the way anymore.
And, unfortunately for him and the Blackhawks, a number of them in recent years haven’t exactly mapped out in a direction that has helped the franchise move forward towards furthered success.
The tides have turned with this fanbase. Instead of being willing to overlook a misstep in anticipation of success to follow, most are quick to overshadow any potential victory with seemingly insurmountable losses that surround it.
However, it’s important to give credit where it’s due.
On November 25, 2018, Bowman helped craft a trade that doesn’t get the type of attention it deserves. Like recognizing a diamond in the rough, he was able to acquire an underperforming Dylan Strome for an overachieving Nick Schmaltz.
Schmaltz had just come off of a sophomore season to remember, accumulating 21 goals and 31 assists through 78 contests in 2017-18. He was selected 20th overall in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft and played his first season with Chicago in 2016-17.
Strome, on the other hand, was struggling to find consistent playing time with the Arizona Coyotes after being a heavily anticipated 3rd overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. He never seemed to find the right fit with the Coyotes, appearing in only 48 games since he was drafted.
From the moment Strome joined the Blackhawks, the improvement in his play was obvious. Even on a struggling Chicago lineup, it was clear that he’d found a more suitable destination to show off his skill set.
He’s already accumulated 89 points through 112 games in a Chicago jersey, which drastically outperforms his previous pace from the 16 points earned through 48 games in Arizona.
What helps is the history and success that he and Alex DeBrincat share, from their years together on the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League. It’s like they’ve picked up where they left off.
Strome is only 23 and DeBrincat is 22, so there are many quality years ahead for both of their careers. If they can be re-signed and have a chance to replicate what they achieved together in the juniors, this Blackhawks team will become better a lot quicker than anticipated.
What made this trade even more fruitful for Bowman’s Blackhawks, was that it also included Brendan Perlini. Another piece that has already upgraded into defensive prospect Alec Regula, after the Blackhawks traded forward Perlini to the Detroit Red Wings in October 2019.
Regula brings a type of coveted offense to his game that this Chicago organization has come to expect of their defenseman. In 2019-20, with the London Knights of the OHL, he scored 27 goals and added 33 assists for a total of 60 points through 56 games.
With the looming reality that veterans like Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook will soon be beyond their years with the Blackhawks, the team can rest assured with players like Regula ready to break their roster.
What Bowman was able to blossom out of this trade could turn out to be pivotal in the organization’s resurgence.
Acquiring Dylan Strome while upgrading to adding Alec Regula, all at the cost of only Nick Schmaltz, should be recognized as one of Stan Bowman’s best moves for the Chicago Blackhawks in recent years. And there’s still time for Strome and Regular to push that praise even further.