Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman is under the microscope this week. Bowman has a window through which he can improve his team's station in the NHL. What's the plan, Stan?
Following a draft that saw some unexpected talent fall to the 'Hawks, there are a few days before the league dives into free agency July 1. Bowman has brought back the pieces he wanted from last year's club. Now is his chance to make some upgrades.
It all boils down to who Bowman wants on this club and who he's willing to part with to make it happen.
It has been the work from above for a few weeks now. Right now the Blackhawks have a team Bowman feels good about, as evidenced by his statements to ESPNChicao.com's Jesse Rogers in a conference call with the media last week:
We don’t have to make moves. We can kind of be selective in doing things to improve our team going forward. It’s hard to say at this point if our team is going to be the same as it stands right now.
In the past, Bowman has not been shy about who he might be targeting in the trade market. This summer seems to find him a little more coy about what moves may be on the horizon, if any.
It's no secret to 'Hawks fans as to what Bowman may try to obtain by trade of free-agent signing. Defensively, a cast needs to be assembled that can spread out the minutes more evenly. A top-six center would also go a long way to bettering Chicago.
Unless Bowman is incredibly busy moving current Blackhawks out of town, it's hard to expect a host of players joining this club in free agency. However, I've maintained for a while this summer that one or two additions of substance would go a long way toward upgrading the roster.
Up until now, Bowman has been unwilling or unable to make these kind of moves. Trading for draft picks or moving big money out of town isn't good enough this year.
Bowman spent about $8-9 million on seven free agents a summer ago. If he uses similar money more effectively on a couple of impact players next week, I'd consider that to be productive.
The rest of this week holds several unanswered questions. Is defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson being moved to clear space for a big signing? How deep is Bowman willing to dig into his prospects to make a deal happen?
Is he capable of landing the impact players the 'Hawks could use via trade or free agency? Will Bowman's selective attitude yield results? All we can do is wait and see what develops over the next few days leading up to the start of free agency.