So far, after watching the complete and utter disaster, and disappointment that was the Blackhawks 2017-18 season many people, including me thought this would be a big offseason for the Blackhawks. Stan had some cap space to spend on a decent free agent market to try to fill up holes. Stan had some decent pieces to try to move to pick up a top 4 defenseman. Another reason to think Stan Bowman would be out there dealing for his job is how Blackhawks owner said changes could occur right after the holiday season ends if the team is still playing poorly. All things here point to a lot of things happening. So what has happened so far? Absolutely nothing to fill out the checklist that most Hawks fans had going into the offseason.
1. A player out of the draft that could help sooner rather than later? Nope.
Blackhawks take Swedish defensemen Adam Boqvist with the 8th overall pick who is more of a project and will take at least 2-3 years to even play his first game in the NHL. This is also not saying that Boqvist will be a bad player, the kid's pro comp is freakin Erik Karlsson. It is just the matter that a guy like Oliver Whalstrom, a pure sniper who had the best shot in the draft, was still available and could probably be on the team in April after his college season and help the team right away. The window is closing and closing fast, this pick doesn’t help open up the window longer with the 5 major players locked up in the Blackhawks core declining.
2. Possibly trade the number 27 pick to obtain a top 4 defenseman? Nope.
This wasn’t that big of a disappointment compared to everything else this offseason. Instead of packaging this pick in a trade to try and scoop up a guy like a Justin Faulk, the Blackhawks pick Nicolas Beaudin a highly offensive-minded defensemen coming out of the QMJHL. Not a bad pick getting a LHD based on having possibly 4 future RHD on the team in 2021.
Free Agency Checklist.
Okay so if the draft didn’t really go the way we would have hoped to help out the team next season then free agency could be the place. There are a few good backup goalie options to grab to help Crawford in his recovery season. There are a good amount of top 4 defensemen to help that horrendous back end that we had to watch all season. Hopefully we can pick up a good top 6 forward to help out the Kane and Schmaltz line. These are some pretty big goals obviously but you could hope that Stan could get at least 2 out of the 3 right, right? Try 0 for.
1. Get a good backup to help out Crawford? Cam Ward? What? 3 million AAV?
So, Stan Bowmans replacement for Anton Forsberg who had a .908 Save % is… Cam Ward who is 34, his save % in the last 3 years has been .909, .905, and .906. Plus you give Cam Ward 3 million and a no movement clause which means that he is your backup no matter what barring injury to Crawford or Ward, yikes.
2. Get a top 4 defensemen to help out the troubled defense? Nope. Instead of grabbing a guy like John Moore, Calvin De Haan, or Ian Cole Stan picks up Brandon Manning? So were just fixing the back end by getting yet another top 6 defensemen to add to the 5 we already have on the roster in Brandon Manning. As I was on twitter I saw Flyer's fans saying that he was complete garbage while he played for them which doesn’t seem like will help our absolutely disgusting back end. Something that might make a Hawks fan's heart while reading is this tweet by @BarstoolChief "Would you rather have Hjalmarsson at $5M or Rutta, Manning, Murphy, Gustafsson at 9.6M combined." Hjalmarsson a great top 4 shutdown defenseman that the Blackhawks got rid of because they didn’t think that they could afford once he went to free agency just signed an extension for 5 mil AAV which the Blackhawks are using in just Rutta and Manning combined. It hurts Stan, it hurts.
3. Get a top 6 forward to help the Kane and Schmaltz line? Nope.
Blackhawks sign Chris Kunitz to a 1 year deal with a 1 mil AAV. I don’t think the answer to helping a line based off speed and skill is a 39 year old winger who is on the last legs of his career. Out of all the signings I think this is the only one I can tolerate. Kunitz a 4 time Stanley Cup champion, a great locker room guy, and a okay bottom 6 player is not a bad thing to add to the roster. He is a great guy for guys like DeBrincatm Schmatlz, and Hinostroza to learn from how to be a winner. I think he can help them grow as players to be winners. This is very similar to the Sharp signing last year.
All in all if reports from guys like Scott Powers are true and the Blackhawks are done this offseason then they wont be a contender next year what so ever. The only thing I could see them being is a wild card team at best with such a stacked division. This is also where Stan is banking on bounce back years from guys such as Duncan Keith, Brandon Saad, Connor Murphy, and the bounce back year Toews has supposed to have since 2015. This is also saying that whatever kept Crawford off the Ice since December is fully over with and he is clear to play right away. I just think that if Stan thinks that this defense that was brutal to watch last season is going to be the same defense next season that all of a sudden works then he still deserves his job. If he doesn’t make a major addition to the backend and the team falls flat on its face again next season then I don’t expect Stan to have another offseason for him to disappoint me. Stan is on the hot seat and it's only getting hotter as the days go by.