This offseason, the Chicago Blackhawks had a huge roster shake-up. Stan Bowman was busy on the phone making multiple big splashes during and after the NHL entry draft. These trades brought depth and experience to a young Blackhawks core that was desperate for that.
Coming into an offseason with lots of questions, one of the main ones was “will the Blackhawks go get a true #1 defenseman?”. Well, they ended up trading former first-round pick Adam Boqvist in order to get the deal done and were able to sign a lengthy and pricey extension with Jones immediately following the trade.
This trade benefits not only the Blackhawks, Seth Jones as well. Seth is coming off of by far his worst season statistically and overall defensively. This trade was a risk, but it was a risk the Blackhawks were willing to make with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews not getting any younger.
Jones, 27, is a right-shot defenseman who brings a lot of versatility due to his great offensive ability as well as his ability to get his stick on the puck in the defensive zone. He will immediately slide into the first defensive pairing night one of the NHL season, most likely next to veteran Calvin De Haan. I, along with many Blackhawks fans, am excited to see how Jones can improve his game and show people that he is still an elite defenseman in this league.
The Jake McCabe signing happened a few weeks following the NHL draft and was another risk that Stan Bowman was willing to take. McCabe, who grew up a huge Blackhawks fan, signed a four-year, $4 million AAV (average annual value) contract following the NHL draft. This signing gives the Blackhawks much-needed depth on the back end with the departure of Duncan Keith earlier in the offseason.
McCabe, who turns 28 in October, will provide the Blackhawks shutdown defense both at even strength and on penalty kills. After being in Buffalo where he was unable to shine, he has a chance to prove why he was a former second-round pick of the Sabres. Watch out for McCabe to make a big impact this upcoming season.
After a really solid rookie season from Kevin Lankinen in net last season, Stan Bowman was not satisfied. He set out to make an immediate upgrade in goal and he got that with future Hall of Fame and reigning Vezina trophy winner Marc-Andre Fleury.
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Fleury, who is 36, provides the Blackhawks with experience in net with him having won three Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins and making an appearance in the Cup Final with the Vegas Golden Knights. While we don’t know exactly how much he might regress or whether he will be on the team past this season, he is an immediate upgrade at a position that was in need of a true starting goalie.