Chicago Blackhawks: Reviewing Stan Bowman's Performance Since Winning the Cup
It will be hard for any Blackhawks fan to forget June 9, 2010, the day the 'Hawks won the Cup. Celebrations seemed to last from that night through the ever-so-muggy day of the Stanley Cup Parade.
Stan Bowman was listed as the team's GM, but the roster was almost entirely assembled by now-Panthers GM Dale Tallon. Since that day, the 'Hawks have been stuck in an odd spot—still competitive enough to make the playoffs, but seemingly unable to do much else.
Bowman's had some hits and misses, as will any GM. So without further ado, here's a look back at Bowman's run since Jonathan Toews held the Stanley Cup above his head in Philadelphia.
The Cap Purge: Trades
Following their Stanley Cup win and the playoff bonuses that went with it, the 'Hawks were in a salary cap bind and had to re-sign players such as Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Niklas Hjalamarsson. This perfect storm forced the 'Hawks to jettison a large number of guys from the Stanley Cup roster via trade.
The main benefactor of this was Atlanta, as the Thrashers acquired Dustin Byfuglien, Ben Eager, Brent Sopel, Andrew Ladd and minor-leaguer Akim Aliu for Marty Reasoner, Joey Crabb, Jeremy Morin, Ivan Vishnevskiy, a first-round draft pick and a pair of second-round picks. Now in Winnipeg, Ladd is the Jets' captain and Byfuglien is an alternate captain.
Two other notable trades invovled the Maple Leafs. The 'Hawks sent Kris Versteeg and Chicagoland native Bill Sweatt to Toronto for Viktor Stalberg, Chris DiDomencio and Phillipe Paradis. A few days earlier, the 'Hawks had sent their second-round pick in the 2010 draft for then-prospect Jimmy Hayes.
Minor moves were made with the Oilers and Islanders. Colin Fraser was sent to Edmonton for a sixth round pick, and Marty Reasoner was sent to New York for Jeff Taffe.
A pair of trades were made prior to the draft, as well. The 'Hawks sent their 2010 first-round pick to the Islanders for a pair of second-round picks, and their 2010 seventh-round pick to Boston for the Bruins' 2011 seventh-round pick.
2010 Offseason: Free Agency
While the Hawks did make a few moves in free agency, most were minor, with bit-players John Madden, Adam Burish, and the recently-acquired Joey Crabb leaving. Brought in via free agency were John Scott, Garnet Exelby and a pair of former Oilers in Fernando Pisani and Ryan Potulny.
The major free-agent storyline of the Blackhawks' 2010 offseason was the goaltending situation. Playoff hero Antti Niemi was up for free agency and had big demands following his playoff heroics.
Eventually, Niemi's demands were too high and he walked away from the Hawks' arbitration and multi-year extension offer, only to sign a one-year deal with San Jose that was worth less than what the 'Hawks offered.
In his place, the Hawks signed veteran Marty Turco to a one-year, $1.3 million deal. Turco put up decent numbers, though he never seemed to properly mesh with Chicago's defensive system, as its players were used to netminders who stayed right by the net, such as Khabibulin, Lalime, Huet, Niemi and Crawford.
2010 NHL Draft
With 10 picks in the draft, it would have taken a monumental organizational failure for Bowman's 'Hawks to not succeed in the 2010 NHL Draft.
Armed with four second-round picks and Atlanta's first-rounder, the 'Hawks went into the 2010 draft looking to bolster their farm system and eventually restore the depth that brought them a Stanley Cup.
Chicago's first-round pick was Kevin Hayes, who was united with his older brother Jimmy in the team's system. Hayes would be the only winger taken in the draft, as the 'Hawks targeted center depth, taking four pivot men: Ludvig Rensfelt (35th overall), Joakim Nordstrom (90th overall), Rob Flick (120th overall) and Mirko Hoefflin (151st overall with the pick acquired for Colin Fraser).
The Hawks also took defensemen Justin Holl (54th overall) and Stephen Johns (60th overall), and goalies Kent Simpson (58th overall) Mac Carruth (191st overall).
Since their draft day, Simpson and Carruth have seemingly gone in opposite directions. Simpson's stats have been getting worse, while Carruth is steadily improving.
2010-2011 Midseason Moves
During the season, the cap-strapped 'Hawks made only two trades and signed just one player.
In December, the Rockford IceHogs gave longtime Canuck Ryan Johnson a pro tryout contract. Johnson played one game for the Hogs before being signed and recalled by the Blackhawks to fill the fourth-line center job, He filled it admirably for the remainder of the season.
February is when things picked up for the 'Hawks. They made two trades and lost a player to waivers.
On February 9, the Hawks, searching for the answer to their second-line center questions, seemingly swindled the Florida Panthers. They sent busts Jack Skille and Hugh Jessiman—along with center prospect David Pacan—to the Panthers for Michael Frolik and goaltending prospect Alexander Salak.
Frolik wound up on the third line and Salak has been average at best since becoming 'Hawks property. Jessiman finally became the last player taken in the first round of his draft class to reach the NHL. Who won the trade? The answer hinges solely on Pacan's development.
On the 26th, the 'Hawks tried to answer their questions on defense, sending Ryan Potulny and a conditional draft pick to Ottawa for Chris Campoli and a conditional draft pick.
Campoli was decent on the third pairing, though it was his give-away that lead to the goal that ended the Hawks season in overtime in Vancouver. Neither draft pick's condition was met.
Also on the 26th, to clear a roster spot for Campoli, the Hawks tried and failed to send Nick Boynton through waivers. The Philadelphia Flyers claimed him.
June 24, 2011 proved to be a very interesting day for 'Hawks fans. The first day of the NHL Draft brought much excitement.
Before the picks even started coming in, the 'Hawks shipped power winger Troy Brouwer to the Washington Capitals for their first-round pick and used it to take Phillip Danault. The 'Hawks used their pick on Mark McNeill.
By the time then night was over, the 'Hawks had finalized a deal sending Brian Campbell's oppressive $7.14 million cap hit to the Florida Panthers for stalled prospect Rostislav Olesz, clearing $4.01 million in cap space.
Because of this, and an unexpected salary cap raise, the 'Hawks had tons of money to spend.
Day two of the draft saw the Hawks grab nine more prospects, including two who would see time at the NHL level: second-rounder Brandon Saad and fifth-rounder Andrew Shaw.
The big free-agent signings didn't turn out to be much. Forwards Andrew Brunette, Jamal Mayers and Dan Carcillo were simply complimentary pieces—though Mayers has vastly outperformed his $550,000 contract.
On the blue line, Sean O'Donnell and Sami Lepisto were brought in to help solidify the defensive corps. Ray Emery was a late addition, though his last-minute contract may be the lone thing keeping the 'Hawks in the playoff hunt.
The team also traded Tomas Kopecky's negotiating rights for a conditional seventh-round pick, which was flipped to Buffalo for the negotiating rights to Steve Montador.
2011 NHL Draft
For the third straight year, the Blackhawks had more draft picks than there are rounds in the draft. The team took 11 players in the 2011 NHL Draft.
The first round saw the 'Hawks take a pair of forwards, big center Mark McNeill (16th overall) and scoring winger Phillip Danault (26th overall).
The second round saw the 'Hawks grab the player who might just be the steal of the draft when they selected Brandon Saad from the OHL's Saginaw Spirit 43rd overall, which vastly outshined fellow second rounder Adam Clending (36th overall).
Saad, along with fellow prospect Brandon Pirri, played their way onto the 'Hawks roster during the preseason. Saad saw two games and didn't do much.
The rest of the draft wasn't really noteworthy at the time, as the Hawks added three more defensemen, four forwards and another seventh-round goalie.
However, fifth-rounder Andrew Shaw forced his way up with his gritty determination, and has quickly become a fan favorite. Still a developing talent, Shaw has the potential to eventually replace Dave Bolland as a rat and third-line center.
2011-2012 Midseason Moves
For the second straight season, the 'Hawks were relatively inactive. They made only three trades that had an impact on their NHL roster.
January 27 saw the 'Hawks send AHL all-star Brian Connelly to the Calgary Flames for declining forward Brendan Morrison, hoping he would be the answer to the second-line center question that has plagued the team since Robert Lang's departure.
Morrison has been a healthy scratch in roughly as many games as he's skated since coming to Chicago.
February 27, the day of the trade deadline, saw the 'Hawks make two moves.
First, they sent their 2013 second and third-round draft picks to the Winnipeg Jets for defenseman Johnny Oduya. Oduya has fit very well in his short time as a Blackhawk, and the 'Hawks should aggressively seek to re-sign him.
The other trade saw the 'Hawks trade the lovingly-named Murdersaurus, as John Scott was sent to the New York Rangers for their fifth-round draft pick in 2012.