June 9, 2019 | 11:18pm ET
BLACKHAWKS COULD BE VERY ACTIVE THIS SUMMER
Stan Bowman, GM
The Chicago Blackhawks have missed the playoffs for the past two seasons and GM Stan Bowman plans on doing what he can to avoid a third straight year without playoff hockey.
With more than $20 million in available salary cap space to play with, the Blackhawks have an opportunity to add a few pieces to their roster, either via trades or free agency.
In a sit-down interview with the Chicago Tribune over the weekend, Bowman reiterated his position and hinted that he plans on being aggressive this summer in his pursuit for additional assets.
“Well, the biggest difference (between this off-season and previous years) would be we don’t have any financial restraints by the salary cap,” Bowman told the paper. “Last year and the year before we were in a different position with very little money to spend. Doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to sign the highest-priced free agents. We can have conversations with them and we can see if they fit right.”
The Blackhawks have already been linked to former Hawk and current Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Artemi Panarin, but he’s set to become the most sough-after free agent.
Bowman is expected to dip his toe in the Panarin waters and go from there, but the club will also be looking to add a two-way forward for its top-nine and a top-four defenceman.
“In talking to (head coach Jeremy Colliton), we’re going to try to get players he thinks are going to help push our team the right way in terms of being a good two-way team,” Bowman said. “We were tilted to the offense last year, and ideally we’d like to have more balance to not just try to outscore the other team. We have some really high-powered offensive players. So we’re probably trying to find the right guy to come in to continue the success we had, to be able to play that way but also to have a two-way component to their game. To be able to be utilized in penalty-kill situations, guys we feel confident can add to that. We’re trying to shore up our weaknesses without taking away what we were good at.”
The Blackhawks may also explore the goalie market and look to add a new backup, as the team is not expected to re-sign Cam Ward this off-season – Ward will become an unrestricted free agent July 1.
Bowman expressed his content with the development of goalie prospects Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen, but he’s leaving every door open as it appears Corey Crawford’s healthy enough to play out the final year of his contract.
“Could we add another goalie? Sure,” Bowman said. “But if we don't, we've got the established guy and we've got these two guys who are pushing to establish themselves in the NHL.”