Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said during the pregame show on NBC Sports Chicago not to expect the team to be buyers at the upcoming trade deadline. The Athletic’s Scott Powers has several quotes from Bowman’s television appearance that paint the picture of an executive who’s trying not to overreact to the team’s current position.
On the trade deadline, Bowman said, "I don't expect us to be a buyer this year. It has nothing to do with where we are in the standings. It's just that each season is a little bit different. Your team is different." (cont.)— Scott Powers (@ByScottPowers) February 9, 2018
More Bowman: "I think the strength of our team is we're trying to build some young players we're going to have. We have a lot of new players this year relative to last year. I think it's hard when you bring in 11, 12 new players every year."— Scott Powers (@ByScottPowers) February 9, 2018
It’s a little hard to believe that the Blackhawks’ record has nothing to do with the decision not to pursue improvements, but Bowman is sticking with the company line that they’re hoping for progress from young players. You can see why given the way Nick Schmaltz and Alex DeBrincat have acclimated themselves this season.
The playoffs aren’t an impossibility for Chicago yet, but giving up long-term assets to improve those slim odds would be a dubious decision. So really, what Bowman says here shouldn’t surprise anyone too much. It never was going to make much sense for the team to start giving away picks and prospects to try to salvage a season that’s already on life support.
Arguably the more interesting comment was one that came not long afterwards about next season’s team.
More Bowman: "I think next year's team is going to look very similar to this year's team, not identical. We're going to have some changes."— Scott Powers (@ByScottPowers) February 9, 2018
For those hoping to see a major roster overhaul after this year’s disappointment, you probably shouldn’t hold your breath. Plans can change, of course, but Bowman’s comments make sense given that many key players have full no-movement clauses. Someone like Artem Anisimov might be expendable once his NMC turns into a partial no-trade clause on July 1, but most of the 2018-19 roster is already in place.
So even that second comment shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to fans. Moving core players like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, and Corey Crawford is difficult with those NMCs. There’s little reason to move affordable young players. So while changes will surely come, the Blackhawks appear to be hoping for internal improvement more than anything.
We’ll have to dig into more into the team’s direction soon, but for now, don’t get too charged up pondering trade scenarios.