The Blackhawks were one of the busiest teams over the offseason, making big splash after big splash to reshape a roster that's looking to take the next step in their rebuild.
First, it was the Duncan Keith trade to Edmonton in exchange for Caleb Jones and a draft pick. Then, it was the acquisition of Seth Jones for Adam Boqvist and three draft picks, including a pair of first-rounders. Four days later, the Blackhawks acquired Vezina Trophy winner Marc-Andre Fleury and two-time Stanley Cup champion Tyler Johnson hours apart and traded the retired Brent Seabrook's contract to Tampa Bay.
It was an eventful summer, and you can imagine the reaction from Chicago players as each domino fell.
"Just excited," Patrick Kane said. "I was personally really excited about the opportunity to play with Seth Jones. Stan [Bowman] had kinda mentioned to me that they were going to go after him, with one year left on his deal. It's amazing. When they mention something like that and they go and get it done, it's a great feeling. He's going to help us so much.
"And then we add a Stanley Cup champion in Tyler Johnson, back to back, bring that experience, and a guy who's got a lot of speed up the middle, so that's something I've always enjoyed playing with. Fleury has a reputation that speaks for itself, three-time Stanley Cup champion as well. They did a great job, made some big moves to make us a relevant team again."
Alex DeBrincat said he found out about the Fleury trade after coming off the ice at Fifth Third Arena during a skate with some of his teammates. It made him that much antsier for training camp to roll around.
"I was really excited for camp," DeBrincat said. "Seeing those moves in the offseason was definitely exciting. From last year we’re in a rebuild or whatever it was and coming into this year we have a good team and I think we can do something special with these guys. Definitely fun getting all those big-name players and seeing the team shape up."
Even the newly acquired players can sense the buzz around the locker room. "It seems like guys are excited," Fleury said. "They're excited about the season. I think there's so many good young players on this team and obviously some good veterans too. The trades and the signings they did over the summer I think will hopefully help this team. Just got to create some chemistry all year round and get going and everybody can do good things. We're all excited to get going."
The question now is, can the Blackhawks put it all together? On paper, they're a team that should compete for a playoff spot. But you don't win games just by having a better roster than your opponents.
It's about developing chemistry both on and off the ice and making the puzzle pieces fit, and the Blackhawks are embracing that challenge and the higher standard they've set for themselves.
"It does elevate expectations," Connor Murphy said of the offseason additions. "The more good players you have, the more you’re going to hopefully perform better. We just need to bring it all together and have fun and not think about that stuff and just try to come together as quick as we can."