Blackhawks

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman wanted veteran presence for stretch run

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Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman wanted veteran presence for stretch run

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.

[MORE: Blackhawks acquire Tomas Fleischmann and Dale Weise from Montreal]

“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.”

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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.”

Andrew Shaw on his career season in Montreal and adding toughness to Blackhawks

Andrew Shaw on his career season in Montreal and adding toughness to Blackhawks

Andrew Shaw had a terrific 2018-19 season with the Montreal Canadiens. He set a career high with 47 points (19 goals, 28 assists) despite missing 19 games due to injuries and averaged 15:55 of ice time, which was the highest of his NHL career.

When asked to explain why he believes he had the best offensive output of his career, Shaw pointed to one thing.

“Honestly I just think it was the hunger for the game," Shaw said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "I missed nine months with knee surgery and concussions. I battled back to get back to where I needed to be and just started having fun again. Maybe I’m bigger, stronger, older. I think I’ve been in situations in games so many times that you’re better at reacting to them so I think that maybe that has a little bit to do with it.”

The Blackhawks reacquired Shaw because they've lacked some jam in their game over the past couple seasons. And looking at the other moves GM Stan Bowman has made this summer, it's clear that's an area they prioritized.

Shaw noticed it too and he's excited to see how it'll all come together this coming season.

“I still have to be me," Shaw said. "I still have to go out there and work and compete and bring the energy I’ve always brought. I think it’s the intensity and the love of the game that pushes me to do that so I think it’s something that others feed off of. With a couple other guys they brought in, too, we got a little bit more grit, a little bit more defensive game. I think it’s going to be a really good year.”

Check out the interview in the video above.

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Brian Campbell on Adam Boqvist's progression and preaching patience in his development

Brian Campbell on Adam Boqvist's progression and preaching patience in his development

The breakout star of Blackhawks development camp in July was undoubtedly Adam Boqvist, who was taken No. 8 overall in 2018. It was evident how much his game has grown over the past year.

Former Blackhawks defenseman — and now player development coach — Brian Campbell worked closely with Boqvist this past season and raved about the steps he took with the London Knights in the OHL. But Campbell is also preaching patience in Boqvist's development. Boqvist just turned 19 on Thursday, and it's important to let him develop at his own pace.

“Yeah, I was impressed," Campbell said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "Obviously, he’s come a long way in a year from last development camp. There’s no pressure being put on him. He’ll develop at his time. If he pushes for a spot, great, but I just don’t want people to get away. There’s a lot to keep learning and he wants to learn, which is the greatest thing. His teammates love him: great thing. He wants to do extra and learn the game: great thing. He is preparing himself days before, even in development camp, he’s preparing himself days before. So all great things and he’s on the right path.

"Hopefully that happens and maybe it does happen but if it doesn’t then that’s not the case and he keeps getting better and wants to keep getting better. Definitely, we know his skill level is there and I think he’s taken a huge step in the last year in preparing himself and knowing how to prepare as a pro player now. There’s a lot of great things there, and hopefully he does do that, but for me, I just don’t want to put too much on him right now. He’s turning 19 soon so he’s still a really young kid and it’s a tough position to play at a pro level. Believe me, I’m smiling, but I just don’t want to force the issue too much. Hopefully he can do some great things, but if he doesn’t, then that’s OK too.”