Depending on who you listen to, the Chicago Blackhawks could be headed in two very different directions with their summer plan.
On one hand, you have the potential for a big trade. Two consecutive first round exits will put pressure on any general manager to shake things up, and Stan Bowman could be looking for a big name to fill a big name, either on the blue line or in the middle.
The other way to go is the typical Stan Bowman route. Look at cheaper options and save the cap space until you find something you really want. Of course, Bowman has yet to find anyone to shell the dough out for that he’s saving, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Should the Blackhawks go the trade route, and take a look at a big name, who could they target? Roberto Luongo? Wishful thinking. Someone like Sam Gagner could be available, or Joe Pavelski if Stan is really willing to give up some pieces. There have been whispers, more than once, about going after P.K. Subban as well, though I seriously doubt it.
You also have to look at names who could leave in a big trade. The obvious one is Niklas Hjalmarsson and his $3.5 million cap hit, which is suddenly very attractive given the contracts we’ve seen some defensemen pull down in the past couple of summers. A free agent next summer, Viktor Stalberg is also looking at a big payday. Both could be part of a large deal, if Stan chooses to go that route.
While it’s nice to speculate about big names joining the Blackhawks, Stan Bowman’s track record makes that a pipe dream at this point. Until we have proof to the contrary, look for the cost effective moves from Bowman. A guy like Daniel Winnik could be a nice cheap addition to play the bottom six and kill penalties. A guy like Peter Mueller could be worth the risk on a one-year deal.
Luckily, the Hawks aren’t in a position where they absolutely have to make a deal. But there are glaring holes in the roster and we all know where they are. So while few are expecting the big blockbuster, I’d have to seriously question Bowman if he heads into the season with the same old issues on this team.