Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks: Has Stan Bowman Redeemed Himself?

Many Chicago Blackhawks fans wanted General Manager Stan Bowman gone after the Joel Quenneville firing. Has he redeemed himself?

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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.

The Problem

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.

He also traded defensive stalwart Niklas Hjalmarsson for the unproven defenseman Connor Murphy. Murphy was not Hjalmarsson and the Blackhawks gravely missed his defensive play.

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.

He dealt Richard Panik for Anthony Duclair which was a decent deal with the Arizona Coyotes.

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

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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.

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They signed veteran goaltender, Cam Ward, physical defenseman, Brandon Manning, and veteran Chris Kunitz.

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.

2018-2019 Season

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.

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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.

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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.

Looking Forward

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.

Stats from: Elite Prospects and Hockey-Reference

Featured Image Photo Credit – Nikos Michals

Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks: Brendan Perlini Finding His Stride

Since The Trade On November 25th 2018 Brendan Perlini, Unlike Dylan Strome, Has Struggled To Find His Stride … Until Now.

Brendan Perlini was born in the United Kingdom on April 27th 1996. At an early age his family moved to Canada where he started to pick up hockey, and he was good at it.

He was so good in fact he was drafted 12th overall by the Phoenix (now Arizona) Coyotes. He’s a big bodied winger who plays a strong two-way game and has an excellent shot.

He struggled to find his place with the Arizona Coyotes, and was traded on November 25th 2018 along with Dylan Strome to the Blackhawks in exchange for Nick Schmaltz.

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Time With Blackhawks

Dylan Strome stepped in right away and has been a crucial part of the Blackhawks 2nd line and their power play. Brendan Perlini on the other hand, like in Arizona, struggled to find his spot in the lineup. They tried him on every line, but was not able to make the most of his opportunities.

In my eyes it always seemed like he was trying to do everything at once and was not very effective. Jeremy Colliton even stated in an article with Mark Lazerus, “It’s the play away from the puck, it’s the pressure on the puck, it’s the work ethic, it’s the 50/50s around the lines. That’s what allows you to have positive shifts. So if he does that, he’ll get his chances.”

On February 7th 2019 in Chicago, in a game against Vancouver, Perlini took a horrible penalty. Elias Pettersson was able to score on the power play which brought the game to over time. Luckily, the Blackhawks were able to score in over time and win.

After that game Brendan Perlini was scratched multiple times and rightfully so. This is usually hard on young players, but Perlini was able to stay strong and fight through it.

Brendan Perlini’s Resurgence

Before a game in Los Angeles, Perlini, decided he wanted to have more fun, thanks to a documentary called “Free Solo.” In an interview with Mark Lazerus from The Athletic, Perlini states, “This guy … climbing this massive mountain, no rope. It’s unbelievable. Literally, one mistake and he’s dead … Maybe I was looking at hockey (that way). And it’s … a game … So it’s having a little bit of an outlook like that — have fun, enjoy it.”

That outlook has started to really work for Perlini. He has had fun while also looking fast, strong and just being the most noticeable guy on the ice in a good way.

Since that game in Los Angeles, where he totaled two goals, Perlini has recorded eight goals and two assists for a total of ten points in the past six games. On the season he has 12 goals and seven assists for 19 points in 57 games.

He now is skating with Alex DeBrincat and his teammate in Arizona, Dylan Strome. He is now getting around 15 minutes of ice time instead of the ten minutes he averaged with the Blackhawks early on. That line has been on fire as of late with Perlini tallying four goals and two assists for a total of six points with the pair.

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Brendan Perlini’s Future

Last year, the Blackhawks brought in Anthony Duclair from the Coyotes and wanted to give him a change of scenery. It did not work out the way both sides had hoped it would and they ended up parting ways.

I do not foresee this happening with Perlini. I would expect Brendan Perlini to get a new contract. He has looked like an excellent player as of late, and I expect him to be a great player for the Blackhawks for years to come.

stats from: Hockey-Reference, Elite Prospects and NHL.com

quote from: The Athletic (Mark Lazerus)

Evaluating The Nick Schmaltz/Dylan Strome Trade

Late yesterday, in a move that seemed to baffle more people than it satiated, the Arizona Coyotes traded Dylan Strome and Brendan Perlini to the Chicago Blackhawks, and in return they got Nick Schmaltz.

For those still clinging to the hope that Dylan Strome will be a top 6 NHL player one day, this trade is an atrocious move on behalf of the Coyotes. For those who have moved on from Strome, Schmaltz could be a short term helping hand to help the Coyotes get a leg up in the historically poor Pacific Division.

Frustrations had long been voiced within the Coyotes fanbase about the development of Dylan Strome. From a prized first round pick to teetering on the edge of ‘bust’ status, concerns were quickly raised debating whether his skating was at the level of an NHL forward. It took Strome three years to accrue just 48 NHL games. You have to search all the way down to the 12th overall pick in the 2015 draft to find a player from the same draft who has appeared in less NHL games than Dylan Strome.

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Old Friends Meet Again

Now on the Blackhawks, it looks like the intent of bringing Strome over in the trade will be to try and rekindle the chemistry that he and Alex DeBrincat had on the Erie Otters during Strome’s draft year. If it works, that’s a slam dunk win for Chicago.

In the below tweet from Craig Morgan of The Athletic, he mentioned that John Chayka, General Manger of the Arizona Coyotes brought up in a press conference that hoping that a prospect like Strome develops isn’t the best mind-set when building your organization.

The Coyotes got tired of hoping that Dylan Strome could be anything other than what all signs are pointing towards: a career fourth line centre who can win you some faceoffs and not provide much else.

The other player sent to the Hawks is Brendan Perlini, who has 57 points in 153 NHL games, and his contract is up at the end of the season. He’s the least interesting piece of this whole trade, and will likely shake out as little more than a bottom 6 role player for the duration of his NHL career.

Schmaltz

In return, the Blackhawks said goodbye to Nick Schmaltz. Schmaltz was a 2014 first round pick by Chicago and is currently on an expiring entry-level deal. Schmaltz is a defensively sound forward with a positive career Corsi for percentage. He put up 52 points in 78 games on the struggling 17-18 Blackhawks team. He has 11 points in 23 games to start the season, not ideal for a player you’d hope would only be getting better with each year.

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But, the Blackhawks and the Coyotes are both second last in their respective divisions— this might just be a move to give three players a breath of fresh air in a hope to rekindle the careers of three mediocre players.

The expectations are once again on Dylan Strome. He hasn’t proved able to live up to them in the past, and DeBrincat might be the last chance to breathe some life into Strome’s career before he fizzles out completely. Until we see what they can do together, we might have to hold off judgement on who won this trade.

Stats from hockey-reference.com