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 add another defenseman to pipeline, draft Nicolas Beaudin at No. 27


Blackhawks add another defenseman to pipeline, draft Nicolas Beaudin at No. 27

DALLAS — Despite taking Adam Boqvist with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, the Blackhawks took a second defenseman at No. 27 with the selection of Nicolas Beaudin.

Beaudin is a 5-foot-11, 172-pound defenseman who prides himself on playing a two-way game and tries modeling his style after Torey Krug of the Boston Bruins. Beaudin is also a left-handed shot, which is something the Blackhawks could use more of in the organization along their blue line.

"Nicolas is a very efficient defender," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said. "He’s got a really nice skill set. He makes the game look pretty easy. He’s a smooth player, not a lot of panic to his game. He’s a good skater so when he has to turn back and get to the puck he can get there first. Usually he just gets his setup and makes the simple play.

"You watch him play and he makes it look really easy. He’s not a guy that’s getting run over a lot. He’s not a real big player, but he uses his brain really well and he had over a point a game, too. He’s got a good feel for making plays and scoring points.

The 18-year-old registered 69 points (12 goals, 57 assists) in 68 games with the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the QMJHL, and added three goals and eight assists in 10 postseason contests.

Beaudin is the third defenseman the Blackhawks have taken in the first round the last two years, with Henri Jokiharju and Boqvist being the other two.

"It’s a winning culture in Chicago," Beaudin said. "They won a lot. I know they’ve got some young guys coming in. For sure in the next few years I want to earn my place and I want to try to learn a lot from a guy like Duncan Keith."

Blackhawks select Adam Boqvist with the No. 8 overall pick

Blackhawks select Adam Boqvist with the No. 8 overall pick

DALLAS — For the first time since drafting Patrick Kane first overall in 2007, the Blackhawks owned a top-10 pick in the NHL Draft. There was speculation that Stan Bowman might get aggressive and trade the No. 8 selection for immediate help if a deal made sense.

Instead, the draft couldn't have unfolded more favorably for the Blackhawks, who elected to keep the pick and drafted defenseman Adam Boqvist.

“You can never have enough D," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said on the NBCSN broadcast. "He moves the puck, he’s very active in the play, very dynamic in a lot of ways. He can help our power play down the road, I am looking forward to seeing how he does in the summer and going into camp."

"There’s opportunity here on the back end with our team, and it’s going to be competitive along the way, but certainly you got a guy that can move the puck and get involved offensively, those guys are hard to find.”

Boqvist is a 5-foot-11, 168-pound right-handed shot blue-liner who's drawn comparisons to Erik Karlsson, given his offensive ability.

"I know they have lots of Swedish defensemen," Boqvist said of the Blackhawks. "They played pretty well as a team and like to have the puck, you know, [Patrick] Kane. Yeah, I like it."

He compiled 24 points (14 goals, 10 assists) in 25 games for the Brynas J20 squad in the SuperElit league, and added three goals and two assists in three playoff games. But his production dropped off when he moved up to the Swedish Hockey League, where he registered only one assist in 15 games.

As we mentioned in our NHL Draft Profile this week, there are a few concerns about Boqvist.

He's only 17 years old and his defensive work needs improvement, meaning the Blackhawks must be patient with his development. He's also sustained a couple head injuries over the course of his young career, which adds some risk to the equation.

But there's clearly major upside if you're being compared to Karlsson.

"I think I need to improve my defensive play and need to be bigger and stronger," Boqvist said. "Of course, my offense can be better, too, so almost everything."

Boqvist joins Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell as the team's top three defensive prospects, all of whom have right-handed shots.