By Jay Zawaski–
(CBS) — Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman is owning the NHL trade deadline. While there are still 48 hours to go before the deadline expires, it will be tough for another NHL team to match the run Bowman has had over the last couple of days.
It all started with adding forward Andrew Ladd on Thursday night.
Ladd was Bowman’s primary target entering trade season, and he had been working on the deal for a couple of months. As I’ve said in other columns, Ladd’s the perfect fit for what the Blackhawks needed, as he’ll slot in well on the top line.
Fast-forward to Friday, and Bowman shipped defenseman Rob Scuderi, who had been playing in Rockford after 17 games with the Blackhawks, to Los Angeles for defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, who had been playing for the Ontario Reign after spending 40 games with the Kings. Both players are shadows of their former selves, but Ehrhoff’s still mobile and can move the puck. Scuderi was, for all intents and purposes, a pylon.
Ehrhoff’s hardly the answer the Blackhawks need to really solidify their blue line, but he’s certainly an upgrade from Scuderi and a still-developing Viktor Svedberg, who has since been sent to Rockford.
Later Friday night, Bowman pulled off another stunning trade, sending Phillip Danault and a 2018 second-round pick to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for wingers Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann.
For Chicago, Weise is the key to this deal. A 14-goal scorer this season, Weise also brings an element of grit that had clearly been lacking from the Blackhawks this season. Aside from Andrew Shaw, Chicago didn’t have a forward who made it his business to get physical, plant himself in front of the net and make it difficult on the opponent’s defense and goaltender. Weise is that type of player.
In Fleischmann, Chicago gets an experienced winger and solid playmaker. He started this season strong in Montreal but has slowed down of late, even finding himself a healthy scratch on some nights. Perhaps this trade will revitalize him. If Fleischmann can return to the form he had earlier this season, he will be a solid addition to Chicago’s lineup.
As it stands on Saturday mid-afternoon, the Blackhawks have $1,205,633 of what CapFriendly.com calls “deadline space.” This is the cap hit the Blackhawks would be able to take on to remain cap compliant. Of course, another trade or player demotion changes those numbers drastically.
Rumors have a couple of teams kicking the tires on Bryan Bickell, although it would likely take the Blackhawks throwing in a decent prospect as sweetener. If the Hawks could get out from under from that contract, they’d have a lot more space.
Of course, whenever the deadline comes, hockey fans get their mind spinning trying to concoct potential line combinations. Here’s what I came up with for the forwards, assuming health and Marcus Kruger being back for the playoffs.
That’s as deep a forward corps as you’ll find in the league. If the Bowman can pull off one more deal for a steady fourth or fifth defenseman, the Blackhawks will be tough to beat.
Jay Zawaski is the executive producer of the Spiegel and Goff Show on 670 The Score and the Blackhawks columnist for CBSChicago.com. He also hosts a weekly podcast with James Neveau of NBCChicago.com that you can listen and subscribe to here. Follow him on Twitter @JayZawaski670.