The Chicago Blackhawks look different now than when their season ended to the Vegas Golden Knights back in August. Now the team looks like they have a direction that can last.
Stan Bowman has had some bad offseasons as general manager of the Chicago Blackhawks in the past, and while this offseason can turn for the worse if Dylan Strome does not get a contract, right now, I think it can be one of his best with the organization.
I know you might be here because you disagree with the headline. However, Stan Bowman finally did what Blackhawks fans wanted him to do, begin a rebuild of this organization. No matter what you think of Bowman’s moves the past few years, I think everyone agrees this organization is not as good as they once were, but they can be again in the future through a rebuild.
Many of the pieces are already intact for the Blackhawks’ future, and it is up to Bowman to help push their careers to the next level. Bowman’s moves made this offseason give the young players more of an opportunity, starting with the players he let go.
Letting Go Of The Past:
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Stan Bowman let Corey Crawford, Slater Koekkoek, and Drake Caggiula all walk away from the organization in free agency. While all three were great for the team at times last year, all of their position saw younger players behind them, itching for an opportunity to prove they belong in the NHL.
Losing Corey Crawford is not going to be easy, but at the same time, Crawford was around Delia and Subban’s age when he broke into the NHL, and now these guys get an opportunity to earn the net this coming season.
It was not a goodbye deserving of a two-time Stanley Cup Champion and one of the franchise’s best goalies of all time, but the goodbye also was not that great for Brandon Saad.
Brandon Saad’s second reunion with the Blackhawks was less than advantageous for either group. Saad had spent significant amounts of time out of the top six with the Blackhawks throughout his second tenure, and he also struggled to make the team’s top power-play, something that should have featured a player like Saad.
While the trade that sent Saad packing for Colorado was not that great right now, I think that Nikita Zadorov can turn into something with this organization if he is given a chance to shine.
The NHL draft showed the Blackhawks focus on the future, as they did not try and trade up for any player to make a difference on their roster right now, nor did they try and use their draft picks to secure players via trade.
This NHL draft could turn out to be one of Stan Bowman’s best if Drew Commesso someday makes the jump to the NHL, and I am excited to watch these young players develop throughout the coming seasons.
Adding players like Lucas Wallmark and Nikita Zadorov brings players to the city that could potentially be pieces to the future. Mattias Janmark is an excellent fit in a bottom-six that can use a little bit of grit with the team’s young players. Janmark is coming off a trip to the Stanley Cup Final, and that experience on one of the youngest rosters in the NHL is excellent for the team.
Announcing The Direction:
The biggest reason I think this offseason was one of Bowman’s bests with the organization was because of the announcement the team made a while back. Bowman and company owning up to their decisions and announcing this team’s direction was a great move, even if well overdue.
If the organization’s fans can continue to get that kind of openness from their GM in the future, I think Chicago could be heading in the right direction, but to be fair, I feel more would rather see him get fired.
So what now? Sure this was an excellent offseason for Bowman and the Blackhawks as they announce the organization’s direction, but things are not out of the dog park yet for Bowman. I still would think his seat is warm thanks to how bad the team has been over the past four years, plus the fans are not on his side.
First things first, Bowman and the Blackhawks need to get a contract for Dylan Strome. If Strome does not get a contract soon, all the good of this offseason could be undone if a player like him walks in free agency or misses time due to not having a deal.
Getting Strome under contract and getting set for a season that will be challenging beyond compare for the ‘Hawks is what this time is all about. All I know is I can not wait for hockey again.
Bowman has had many bad offseasons with the Blackhawks, but I do not think this was one of them. He didn’t let the past emotions about players get the best of him and let some fan favorites walk away to better the team. Plus, he added a few young pieces that could be big players for the future. Hopefully, the coming years will show the Blackhawks made the right decision, not firing Bowman. Otherwise, it is going to be a lengthy rebuild in Chicago.