Many Chicago Blackhawks fans wanted General Manager Stan Bowman gone after the Joel Quenneville firing. Has he redeemed himself?
Many fans questioned if Bowman should remain as the Blackhawks general manager after the dreadful 2017-2018 NHL season where the Blackhawks finished 25th overall in the NHL standings.
Many fans blamed Bowman for his offseason moves. He traded superstar winger Artemi Panarin for the former Blackhawk Brandon Saad. Saad ended up only putting up 18 goals and 17 assists while Artemi Panarin put up 25 goals and 57 assists.
Many players had down seasons. This included Jonathan Toews (20 goals and 32 assists), Patrick Kane (27 goals and 49 assists), Brandon Saad (18 goals and 17 assists) and Duncan Keith (2 goals and 30 assists).
This team looked like a good team with Corey Crawford who was great in goal, until he suffered a concussion and was out for season.
During the season, Bowman, made many moves. He traded Michal Kempny for a third round pick in 2018. Kempny ended up winning the cup with the Washington Capitals, so this trade was a loss.
On the trade deadline, Bowman, traded young power forward, Ryan Hartman, and a 2018 fifth round pick for Victor Ejdsell, a 2018 first round pick and a 2018 fourth round pick. This was considered a win for the Blackhawks and a loss for the Nashville Predators.
2018 NHL Draft
Boqvist & Beaudin
“And with our choice, eighth overall, the Blackhawks are proud to select from, Brynäs, in Sweden, Adam Boqvist.”
The Blackhawks selected skilled offensive defenseman, Boqvist. Boqvist, is amazing offensively. His skating is superb, his shot is great and he can make great passes. The problem comes with his defense. He is a bit of a project, but I liked the pick.
“Blackhawks are proud to select from Drummondville, Nicolas Beaudin.”
I was surprised to hear, Nicolas Beaudin’s name at 27th overall. This pick was acquired in the Ryan Hartman trade. I thought for sure it was going to be center man Joe Veleno, but I am happy with Beaudin. Beaudin has excellent passing, a quick stick and great speed.
Wise & Nordgren
With their next two picks, both in the third round, the Blackhawks selected two skilled forwards in Jake Wise (69th overall) and Niklas Nordgren (74th overall).
Wise is a skilled two way forward. He has great skating, superb passer, decent shot and has an amazing defensive game. His main concern is his lack of staying healthy.
Nordgren is an efficient sniper. He has an excellent shot, is a great playmaker and is defensively dependable. His real drawback is his skating and his size.
Late Round Picks
In rounds four through seven the Blackhawks took Philipp Kurashev (120th overall), Mikael Hakkarainen (139th overall), Alexis Gravel (162nd overall) and Josiah Slavin (193rd overall).
Kurashev is an excellent two way forward. He can play center and wing. He played amazing in the U20 World Juniors, recording six goals and an assist in seven games. This pick was acquired in the Hartman deal.
Hakkarainen is a playmaking center. He is an over ager, but he is still considered a project. He has great passing and a decent shot.
Gravel is a goaltender. He has great size at 6’3″ and 218 pounds. He is able to make great saves because of that size. He needs to work on his poise and his five hole.
Slavin is a goal scoring winger. This pick was probably made more on, Josiah, being related to defenseman Jaccob Slavin. Josiah was an over ager and is committed to Colorado College next year. He is also considered a project.
2018 Free Agency
While I knew the Blackhawks were not gonna get a player like John Tavares, I was expecting them to do a little more in free agency.
Ward was given a one year deal for $3,000,000. Manning was given a two year deal for $2,250,000. Kunitz was given a one year deal for $1,000,000.
I was really disappointed with these signings because we finally had a little bit of cap space. I felt like we could have gotten better players, but alas there is nothing I could do about it.
The Blackhawks were able to free up cap space by trading Marian Hossa‘s contract along with NHL winger, Vinnie Hinostroza, NHL defenseman, Jordan Oesterle, and a 2019 third round pick for former Blackhawks center, Marcus Kruger, AHL players, Andrew Campbell and Jordan Maletta, talented prospect MacKenzie Entwistle and a 2019 fifth round pick.
The Blackhawks started off with six wins, six losses and three overtime/shootout losses. Joel Quenneville was fired on November 6th 2018. Many including myself believed that none of this was Quenneville’s fault. Bowman gave him this team and it just was not a good team. A lot of fans wanted Bowman gone.
The guy who the Chicago Blackhawks brought in as the new head coach is former IceHogs coach, Jeremy Colliton. Colliton has been great for the Blackhawks, but he had a rough start. He had three wins, 14 losses and three overtime/shootout losses in his first 20 games. After that slump, the Blackhawks, got 27 wins, 14 losses and six overtime/shootout losses in the next 47 games.
Colliton has turned the power play around. He has helped the offense score, and he is still implementing his defensive system. I believe if Colliton was hired during the summer the Blackhawks would’ve made the playoffs this year.
Fixing The Problem
After a horrible free agency and the Joel Quenneville firing, Bowman knew he had to correct his mistakes.
Manning was an absolute disaster on defense. He recorded a goal and two assists in 27 games while having a 44.7 Fenwick For % (-7.4% to team average).
Bowman traded Manning to the Edmonton Oilers for power forward, Drake Caggiula. After 12 games with the Oilers, Manning was sent to the AHL. Caggiula has found a spot on the first line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. He has recorded five goals and seven assists in 26 games.
Bowman also moved, talented forward, Nick Schmaltz. Schmaltz has always been a pass first center. Schmaltz was never the best at face-offs and he struggled with the Blackhawks after his breakout 52 point season. The Blackhawks dealt Schmaltz for former third overall pick, Dylan Strome, and former 12th overall pick, Brendan Perlini.
Schmaltz recorded five goals and nine assists in 17 games before suffering a season ending injury. Strome has flourished with the Blackhawks. Strome, was considered by many as a bust. He showed that he wasn’t by totaling 17 goals and 34 assists in 58 games with the Blackhawks. He has also played important power play minutes for the ‘Hawks. Perlini has been a steady scoring presence in the bottom six recording 12 goals and three assists in 46 games.
Finally, Bowman, traded defenseman Jan Rutta and a 2019 seventh round pick for defenseman Slater Koekkoek and a 2019 fifth round pick. Rutta, was a talented defenseman for the Blackhawks, but seriously regressed this season, recording only two goals and four assists while having a 46.7 Fenwick For % in 23 games. Koekkoek, has recorded a goal and four assists while having a 51.9 Fenwick For % in 22 games. He has looked a lot better on the defensive zone and is a fast defenseman, something the ‘Hawks are lacking.
With these moves by Bowman, he has shown that he is planning for the future, while also staying competitive now. With the Blackhawks securing the third overall pick on this year’s entry draft (more on that here) and having salary cap, we are in for a big offseason.
The team is heading in a positive direction. Toews, Kane, Alex DeBrincat and Strome all had career years. Players like Saad, Keith and Murphy all had bounce back years. Add in defensive prospects, Henri Jokiharju, Boqvist, Beaudin and Mitchell and you have a top four for the future.
This team will be exciting to watch next year. Hopefully Bowman continues this run of great trades, drafting and brings us to the playoffs.
Featured Image Photo Credit – Nikos Michals