Before the start of the 2018 - 2019 National Hockey League season several pundits around the NHL, perhaps even most pundits, had the Chicago Blackhawks pegged to finish dead last in their division. The predictions were largely due to the Blackhawks poor season in 2017 - 2018 as well as the continued uncertainty around the health of star goaltender Corey Crawford, but so far it seems like they were way off.
The Blackhawks have come out of the gate looking in excellent form thanks in part to an apparent resurgence from the organizations captain, forward Jonathan Toews, who was coming off a pretty bad season in his own right. The return of Crawford to the line up has seemingly cemented things for the Blackhawks and they have 4 wins in the first 7 games, with points in 6 of those 7 contests. The Blackhawks are now looking at a situation where they could be legitimate playoff contenders and it sounds like management may be looking at things that way as well.
Blackhawks insider Mark Lazerus had a chance to catch up with Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman himself recently and he asked him point blank if there was a move on the horizon. Lazerus cited the Blackhawks roughly $5 million in cap space as well as their strong start to the season as potential motivating factors behind a trade of some kind, and when pressed Bowman admitted that he did in fact have some things in the works.
“Well, the part that gets overlooked a little bit maybe is that we’re always looking to make moves,” Bowman said as per Lazerus. “Whether we’re flying to start or it’s a slow start or it’s an in-between start, that’s not really sort of the precursor to a trade. I’ve had a lot of discussions the last couple of weeks with other GMs just because that’s my job. There’s already some things percolating. We’re not doing anything yet, but I’ve had a lot of dialogue with people, so I wouldn’t be hesitant to make a move. But it’s sort of independent of our start. If we had had a poor start, I don’t know if I would be doing anything different. I’m still out there seeing if there’s a move that could make us better but also set us up well in the future.”
So the question now would become what is it exactly that the Blackhawks will look to do with that available cap space and where will they bolster their roster? Based on what Lazerus wrote it sounds like he believes that the Blackhawks could seek to add some scoring depth to help shore up their bottom six and that would seemingly make a lot of sense.
The Blackhawks have struggled to get any kind of production out of veteran forward Brandon Saad this season and that has resulted in Saad being demoted time after time by head coach Joel Quenneville. If the Blackhawks are unable to get Saad online at some point during the season some additional scoring depth would make a a lot of sense.