A year ago at the NHL draft, Stan Bowman made a couple of moves with the trades of Brian Campbell and Troy Brouwer that began a roster domino effect when free agency began on July 1.
The Blackhawks missed Campbells game this past season - if not his Cap hit. And Brouwer had the kind of season closer to what the Hawks were hoping hed have given them in 2010-11.
By this time next week, following the draft Friday and Saturday in Pittsburgh, we should have a better idea of how much more change his roster for 2012-13 will go through, if the vice president and general manager arent closing in on moves already.
The last time Bowman spoke publicly, following the re-signings of Johnny Oduya and Jamal Mayers, he indicated he wasnt done - even though it appears he already has more candidates than actual roster spots. The organizational meetings with Joel Quenneville, scouts and the personnel department have been completed, and that group should know by now what theyre looking for, how they can get it, and who is potentially expendable in order to get the team they want in place.
Right now, he has a lot of the same type of defensemen. The Bowman Way is certainly the puck-moving way with his D-men, but he said he wouldnt rule out searching for more size on the back line to join the only sure thing who provides that in Brent Seabrook. Thats where his faith in Dylan Olsens readiness comes in, because the former first-rounder has the body for it, if not the NHL seasoning.
The same can be said for his faith in his other young players whove had spoon-fed experience the past couple of seasons. Should he put his trust in Jimmy Hayes and Brandon Saad now and stand pat with them, hoping they can grow into roles next season with their size and skill, similar to what Dwight King and Jordan Nolan provided the Stanley Cup champion Kings? Maybe he keeps one and packages another?
There is also the Jeremy Morin and Brandon Pirri to decide on, and down the road, last years two first-rounders -- Mark McNeill and Phillip Danault. Does he keep them, or even the 18th-overall pick Friday night, or can he get something valuable now for one or some combo package?
Most interesting of all will be if he swaps a familiar face or two off the current roster - not necessarily one of the core guys, but some others weve become familiar with who would have value elsewhere. They would bring something in return in the form of a veteran, or cap space to shop elsewhere.
The center position remains most intriguing between Dave Bolland, Marcus Kruger and Jamal Mayers (who could play wing) if the commitment to Patrick Kane in the middle is still in place. Make no mistake, Bowmans been on the phone measuring and gauging what it takes to make certain moves with other GMs. Now its a matter of what hed be sacrificing for what hes getting in return.
He doesnt have much more money to spend under the current salary cap, which many believe might come back down below last seasons number (64.3 million) once a new collective bargaining agreement is in place after a temporary rise to the 70 million range. If there are moves Bowman wants to make, that cap management means lateral moves, contract-wise. The 2012 free agent class is nothing more than ordinary, with that labor deal hovering over any spending sprees.
Bowman cant come out and tell us how much change he wants, other than change is needed. No specifics are ever provided, and very rarely whispered outside those office walls. After two years of first-round exits, no matter what the excuses or reasoning, hes faced with moving forward with basically the same roster he had last season. That would pin his hopes on a couple of kids growing up quickly and Corey Crawford needing to rebound in a big way on his own.
Of course, he can tweak some more.
Im thinking we might see some of the latter between now and this time next week.