General manager Stan Bowman looked happy on Thursday night when he got Andrew Ladd back into the fold. He looked pretty happy again on Saturday.
“I slept a little better last night,” Bowman said this morning.
The Blackhawks wanted to bolster their bottom two lines, and Bowman hopes he’s done that in trading for Tomas Fleischmann and Dale Weise from the Montreal Canadiens. While the Blackhawks have been ultra successful this season, they’ve done it with their top, third and fourth line struggling to find lengthy consistency. Ladd was acquired to help that first line. Bowman hopes Weise and Fleischmann do the same for the third and fourth.
“That was the prime motivation,” Bowman said of his latest selections. “I think the one area we wanted to try and improve was our depth and our players with experience. We’ve got a lot of young players who have shown good progress this year. They’ve done a great job to get us to this point. When you look at the task ahead, with the playoff stretch and you’ve got a lot of games and it’s hopefully going to be playing until June. There’s a lot of hockey to be played and you can rely on some veteran players to do that.”
Obviously the Blackhawks had to give up a few things. Marko Dano was sent to Winnipeg in the Ladd deal and Phillip Danault went to Montreal as part of the Fleischmann/Weise package. Also gone is their first-round selection of the 2016 NHL draft, as well as their second-round and a conditional pick in the 2018 draft. But Bowman knows that’s part of doing business.
“You don’t want to have to trade away young players but you have to give something to get,” Bowman said. "These are real good players we brought in here. You’re not going to get players like that on a handshake. You have to pay a price and we gave away some good young players. I certainly credit our scouting staff for the job they’ve done finding good young players. That’s our job: we have to continue to find payers to replace these guys, and I have confidence in our scouts to do that. We saw an opportunity to improve our team and we went for it. There are always ways to look forward to the future and we’ll stay on top of that.”
Ladd and defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, who was also acquired on Friday, was present for Saturday morning’s practice. So was Fleischman. Bowman said it could take Weise a few days to get here, considering his visa issues.
Will there be more? Bowman said he expects some discussions between now and when the trade deadline hits at 2 p.m. CT on Monday, but that “I really like the way this team looks right now.” Keep in mind he said the same thing right after acquiring Ladd. The Blackhawks have done well getting to this point this season but they wanted more experience and more personnel to help roll four lines. They’re hoping they’ve gotten the right guys to do that.
“It’s one of those things where what’s done is done and we’re excited about where we’re at and we’re really looking forward to seeing the group come together. And it’s going to be some time until we get everybody back in terms of [Marcus] Kruger and [Marian] Hossa but once we get our full complement of guys back I’m really excited about the potential for that group,” Bowman said. “We’re in a much better position today than we were two or three days ago.”