Hawks’ GM preps for another Cup run

By Adam Hess

The NHL trade season wrapped up on Monday afternoon, and while the Blackhawks didn’t make much noise on deadline day they were very active over the weekend leading up to the deadline.

Stan Bowman made five trades in total over the past week, but only three of them really impact the team for this season. Those three trades – and the trade that didn’t happen – were the key stories from the Blackhawks’ trade deadline.

Welcome home, Ladd

The Blackhawks brought back an old friend last Thursday when they acquired Andrew Ladd from the Central Division opponent Winnipeg Jets. Ladd came to Chicago along with Matt Fraser and Jay Harrison, who both reported to Rockford, in exchange for Marko Dano, a first round draft pick, and a conditional 2018 first round pick.

“It’s just fun to be around familiar faces, the guys who were here when I was here before,” Ladd told the media Monday. “A lot of things are different — they changed this whole room around — a lot of new faces, but it’s just fun to be back.”

This trade addressed the Blackhawks biggest need on the roster in finding them a top line left wing. The carousel of players at that position this season was unsettling, and Ladd fixes that issue completely.

The price was a bit steep to bring the former Hawk back to the Second City, but as a team focused on winning now this is a good deal for the Blackhawks. And Ladd hasn’t missed a beat with his former teammates, racking up an assist in Sunday’s 3-2 win over the NHL-best Washington Capitals.

Blue line upgrade

This is a deal that will probably end up being one of Bowman’s better yet more underrated deals. Chicago sent Rob Scuderi to Los Angeles in exchange for the 33-year-old Ehrhoff, who fits the mold of defenseman the Blackhawks needed: a strong puck mover and good skater who drives possession.

Scuderi was none of those things. He is slow, he can’t pass, and overall he is a bad hockey player. He was rightfully demoted to the AHL earlier in February, and getting him out of the system is a beautiful thing.

Ehrhoff might not be a huge difference maker for Chicago, but as his price and skillset, this deal is low risk and has potential for a high reward, and excellent piece of work by the GM.

Help for Teuvo

Bowman wrapped up his major moves on Friday when he sent Phillip Danault and a 2018 second-round pick to Montreal in exchange for forwards Tomas Fleischmann and Dale Weise. The two were linemates in Montreal and will likely stay that way in Chicago, playing with Teuvo Teravainen, who will move back to his natural center position.

This was another good move from Bowman. He said during the day on Friday that he wanted to add a gritty winger with scoring touch to play with Teravainen, and he did that hours later in acquiring Weise. Fleischmann is a great addition, as he will fit well with Teravainen, and can kill penalties as well.

“Teuvo is a big part of this,” Bowman said Monday. “Sometimes people overlook the fact that more than anybody on our group of forwards, he’s bounced around and had to be the most versatile guy. That’s not easy to do for a young guy who’s trying to get established in the league.”

Losing Danault and a future pick hurts but there is plenty of time to recoup that draft pick, and Danault was a bit repetitive in the system with Marcus Kruger in tow. This final move set the Blackhawks up as the deepest team in the NHL, and probably the favorite to win the Stanley Cup.

The Bickell conundrum

Then there is Bryan Bickell, who wasn’t traded over the weekend, and remains a huge anchor contract for the Blackhawks. With a cap hit of just over $3-million even when playing for the IceHogs, Bickell is certainly huge problem for Bowman and co.

There were rumors that the Maple Leafs were willing to move for Bicks but that trade never materialized. Bowman was reportedly willing to retain half of Bickell’s salary, but even then he would still be overly expensive for what he brings – or rather, doesn’t bring – to the table.

“He’s been playing a big role in Rockford,” Bowman told the Sun-Times. “He’s scoring some goals and I think he’s feeling better about his game. That had to happen — and where it goes from there I can’t really predict.”

There’s still a chance that Bickell gets moved at the NHL Draft or another point over the summer. If Bowman can’t find a fit for Bickell, another option is to buy him out. The best option, though, might be to just ride out the final year of Bickell’s contract and get it over with faster. Just rip the band-aid off; don’t do it slowly.

Adam Hess is our regular Blackhawks contributor and a staff writer at SB Nation’s SecondCityHockey.com. Follow him on Twitter: @_AdamHess.

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