Stan Bowman did his job this offseason, therefore it is up to Jeremy Colliton and his staff to do theirs to find success with the Blackhawks.
Stan Bowman, surprisingly, did his job well and brought guys in to help the Blackhawks return to contention. Fleecing for Marc-Andre Fleury, traded for Tyler Johnson, who looks to be in the running for the first-line center, traded for Seth Jones, and signed on Jake McCabe to name a few.
Don’t get me wrong, Stan Bowman isn’t in the clear. He did enough as GM to get himself fired long ago, not to mention the ongoing scandal. I’m just saying that, as Bowman’s “to-do list” this offseason included adding depth at center, bolster the defense, find an elite goaltender for a 1A, 1B tandem, AND add size at forward. Bowman added all of that this offseason, so he did his part.
The contracts are still something that I raise an eyebrow at, but Bowman adds the players and Colliton has to deploy them in a manner that brings success. GMs can only do so much (or sometimes not enough) for the team’s on-ice performance, and Bowman realistically did what he could for the team. He also set the team up for a potential catastrophe, but that’s a different story.
Bowman seems to want to make the most of the remaining prime years of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Jake McCabe, Seth Jones, and Connor Murphy are retained for the next four years for a solid defense. With the defense being the team’s main problem last season, Stan went out and brought guys in who could both fit the system and be effective right off the bat. With a bolstered defense, the Blackhawks really don’t have any excuses if they miss the playoffs.
The young guns are also expected to take steps forward in their development this season in order to be more impactful for the team. Philipp Kurashev looks really good, as does Dominik Kubalik and a healthy Kirby Dach coming into the year. Lukas Reichel looks to have a decent shot at a roster spot to start the season as well and Riley Stillman and Wyatt Kalynuk look to be making up the final roster spots on D at the moment (though this can quickly change).
And the goaltending seems to be among the best in the league with Fleury playing about 55 games or so. Kevin Lankinen is learning from a first-ballot Hall of Famer and three-time Stanley Cup champion. The goaltending situation is healthy, with a mentor-student relationship looking to be blooming. This can only be a positive thing for the Blackhawks, both in the present and into the future.
With a solid mix of youth, veterans, AND proven Stanley Cup winners, the Blackhawks are set up to succeed and Stan Bowman is the cause of it. I can say all I want about what he did in the past, but this offseason is one of his best and reloaded the roster for a playoff run. He did his job, and now Colliton has to do his. If the Blackhawks stumble, it won’t be on Bowman but on Colliton.