Blackhawks

Stan Bowman expects trade talk to increase as NHL Draft approaches

stan-bowman-wirtz-excited-about-future-insider-slide.png

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.”

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Get your Stanley Cup Champs gear!]

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 Talk Podcast: How should Blackhawks handle Kirby Dach's future?

kirby_dach_usa_today.jpg
USA Today

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: How should Blackhawks handle Kirby Dach's future?

Should Kirby Dach see more ice time? What should the Blackhawks do with Erik Gustafsson? Has Robin Lehner separated himself in the goalie tandem?

Patrick Sharp and Charlie Roumeliotis join Pat Boyle to discuss that and much more on the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast. Plus, you'll hear Robin Lehner's postgame comments after the loss to the Golden Knights and why he thinks the Blackhawks are "really close" to putting it all together.

1:08 - Blackhawks come up with best defensive effort of the season

2:52 - Changes made to the power play units

4:14 - Evaluating Erik Gustafsson's play so far

6:04 - Who fills in after the Connor Murphy injury

7:49 - Patrick Sharp remembers Patrick Kane rookie season

9:08 - What does the future hold for Kirby Dach?

12:04 - Struggles of the Blackhawks' top-six

14:44 - Another strong performance by Robin Lehner

16:33 - Lehner's strong post-game comments after Vegas loss

20:07 - How to handle the goalie-split going forward

23:25 - Biggest thing the Blackhawks need to improve upon

Listen to the entire episode here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

Subscribe:

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.

Blackhawks expected to be without Connor Murphy (groin injury) for 'a couple weeks'

connor_murphy_ap.jpg
AP

Blackhawks expected to be without Connor Murphy (groin injury) for 'a couple weeks'

The Blackhawks are expected to be without defenseman Connor Murphy for "a couple weeks" after he left in the second period of Tuesday's 2-1 shootout loss to the Vegas Golden Knights because of a groin injury, coach Jeremy Colliton confirmed after the game.

It's the same injury that sidelined Murphy for the season opener in Prague, which is unfortunate given his promotion to the top pairing with Duncan Keith has provided some stability on all three pairings. 

"Obviously that's a blow for us," Colliton said. "It's an opportunity for other guys. We think we need to continue to build depth. That's what we're going to need. We can't just play with six D or seven D all year. You're going to need more than that. That'll be an opportunity for other guys to grow."

Slater Koekkoek is serving as the seventh defenseman right now and he's the likely candidate to slide into Murphy's spot in the lineup. But the Blackhawks might be inclined to make a call-up from Rockford as insurance.

Dennis Gilbert started the season with the Blackhawks because Murphy and Calvin de Haan were not cleared to play overseas, so he's a potential candidate to be brought back up.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.