Stan Bowman expects trade talk to increase as NHL Draft approaches


Stan Bowman expects trade talk to increase as NHL Draft approaches

So far, it’s quiet out there.

Yes the league’s general managers, including the Blackhawks’ Stan Bowman, are talking. The Blackhawks will be sellers, and considering the winning pedigree of players they’ll likely be dangling, there will be buyers.

When the dominos start falling, however, remains to be seen.

Bowman said that trade talk has been “typical” for this time of year, but he expects the chatter to increase as we approach the NHL Draft, which begins on Friday in Sunrise, Fla. It promises to be an active time for the Blackhawks. They already have $64 million committed to 14 players and have to shed salary to sign others (Brandon Saad and Marcus Kruger) and hit the $71.4 million salary cap set for this coming season.

[MORE: Blackhawks bracing for roster shake-up as NHL Draft nears]

Patrick Sharp is most likely headed elsewhere. Bryan Bickell could be gone, too. Bowman wasn’t getting into specifics on who was leaving or how talks were going on any trades, but he said the Blackhawks have plans.

“We’ve been preparing some scenarios, some lower, some higher [than the announced cap number.] This was one,” Bowman said via conference call on Wednesday. “We have a lot of plans we’ve been thinking of at that number. It’s not something that’s good or bad; it’s something we’ve been preparing for. We’re just going to move forward now.”

When does the moving forward begin? The Blackhawks could start making deals prior to the draft, especially if they want to add picks. They currently have seven, but their first isn’t until later in the second round – No. 54 overall, their compensatory pick for not signing Kevin Hayes. Bowman said the Blackhawks are always looking to get more selections heading into the draft, and this year is no different.

[MORE: NHL, NHLPA announce salary cap of $71.4 million in 2015-16]

“If we can acquire additional picks, which we’ve been able to do in previous years, that’d be great. If not, we still have seven picks and we’ll make our decisions and hopefully add some players we’re really excited about,” Bowman said. “It’s really the same procedure as in previous years: we’re always trying to acquire additional draft picks. It comes down to whether there’s a fit to do that or not.”

That fit extends to any trade packages the Blackhawks accept, too. Of those players the Blackhawks are likely to part with, Sharp should draw considerable interest. He may not be coming off his greatest individual season but he’s had plenty of great ones and he’s a three-time Stanley Cup winner. Sharp has been part of a core that knows how to win; and for teams that are trying to achieve what the Blackhawks have, acquiring a player with that pedigree is enticing.

“Each team is unique in terms of what [its] needs are at certain positions and where they’re at. Some teams are looking for players to step in and help immediately and take a step as an organization. Others are rebuilding or looking for experience and winning. That’s what we’ve had a lot of, players who have been in a winning environment,” Bowman said. “People understand it’s nice to bring players in who have been part of winning cultures. That’s something that’s been a common theme in some of my discussions. You keep working through it. There are still a lot more discussions to have but at this point, things are going along well.”

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The upcoming changes are coming for the Blackhawks, whether anyone wants them or not. Bowman, however, is optimistic about the immediate and long-term future. It’s not hard to see why: despite all the changes the Blackhawks have gone through since the summer of 2010, they’ve still won two more Cups since then. The Blackhawks have found ways to adjust and keep winning in the salary-cap world. They believe they can do that again.

“There’s so much talk about players leaving but I’m excited about next year,” Bowman said. “We’re going to have a lot of the main pieces back. We’ve got guys ready for bigger roles and some exciting new faces coming to the organization. This is an exciting part of the year to find the future Blackhawks. There’s lot to be optimistic and excited about next year and the years to come.”

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

It was a rare sight to see the Blackhawks in a shootout on Wednesday night.

It was just the second time this season — and first time at the United Center — that the Blackhawks made it past 3-on-3 overtime. 

The last came on Dec. 2, 2017, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Stars in Dallas. On Wednesday night, the Blackhawks were on the other end, beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in a seven-round shootout. Nick Schmaltz netted the game-winner.

"We'll take it," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we had a decent game tonight. Overtime not so good, I liked the shootout victory, Fors made some big saves for us particularly as the game got deeper. Our third was OK, I thought our first two were way better, and overtime we gave up some high quality, some bells were rings for a bit there. But it was nice to see the shootout win."

Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist, recording another multi-point game, his 16th of the season.

"I mean we need every point we can get at this point," Kane said. "There's still belief in this locker room. Obviously we need to go on quite a run and have a big record here down the stretch. But take it a game at a time and nice to get two points."

Anton Forsberg was a big reason the Blackhawks even recorded those two points. The 25-year-old netminder stopped 34 of 36 shots and made a handful of big saves down the stretch.

"It was really nice to get a win for sure," Forsberg said. "I would love to have a lot more wins, but right now just gotta look forward and get as many wins as possible."

Added Quenneville: "I think it was good for him to win a game the way he did. Lot of shots were on the line, as we progressed, got deeper, hitting the point first was big for him and for us and then finding a way to get the extra one was a good win."

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?