The Chicago Blackhawks problems are numerous this season. They have consistently played terrible in their own end in front of their goalies. They continue to allow numerous “Grade A” chances to their opponents each game. Their special teams have also been absolutely terrible all season. They have the third worst penalty kill at 73.5% and their power play is dead last at 12.5%. Their record now sits at 9-14-5. They are currently sixth in the Central Division ahead of only the St. Louis Blues. A week ago they were three points out of a wildcard spot, and now they are down seven points. Where did things go wrong for the storied franchise?
Blackhawks Problems Start With Stan Bowman
Stanley Cup Rewards
Blackhawks problems begin and end with the roster. While winning three Stanley Cups in six seasons General Manager Stan Bowman began giving out much deserved “Blackhawks for Life” contracts. These contracts all included non-movement clauses that hamper the franchise’s ability to make moves in later years. It’s a big part of doing business while chasing multiple Stanley Cups. The hope is that the team locks up their core players and rides them as long as they can and builds around them to be an elite team every year.
Successful franchises stay competitive every season by using long-term contracts for their core, selecting great draft picks, and then signing productive free agents when needed. A solid franchise will draft players that will learn what it takes to play in the NHL and then sign them to entry-level contracts that help keep the team under the salary cap every season. Good teams have a solid mix of players on entry-level contracts and veterans. This requires that a team choose wisely at the annual NHL draft and promote from within. Unfortunately for the Chicago Blackhawks Stan Bowman’s draft picks have been a major disappointment since he took over from Dale Tallon.
Listed below are the draft picks Stan Bowman made in the first or second round 2010-2017.
1st and 2nd Round Draft History 2010-2017
- Kevin Hayes RW (1st) – Unsigned by the Blackhawks Opted for New York Rangers 2014
- Ludvig Rensfeldt LW (2nd) – Unsigned still playing in Sweden
- Justin Holl D (2nd) – Played 66 games with the Indy Fuel (ECHL), 2 games with Rockford Ice Hogs (AHL). Signed as a free agent by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2016.
- Mark McNeill C (1st) Rockford Ice Hogs 2011-17 Traded to Dallas 2017 for Johnny Oduya who is now gone
- Phillip Danault LW (1st) Rockford Ice Hogs 2012-16 Traded to Montreal Canadiens for Tomas Fleischmann and Dale Weise 2016. Both of these “Cup rentals” are gone.
- Adam Clendening D (2nd) Played for Chicago, Rockford, Vancouver, Pittsburgh, Edmonton, Rangers, Arizona, Rockford, and now with the Columbus Blue Jackets
- Brandon Saad LW (2nd) Blackhawks 2011-15, traded to Columbus Blue Jackets in 2015, reacquired from Columbus in 2017 for Artemi Panarin
- Teuvo Teravainen LW (1st) Blackhawks 2013-16, traded to Carolina Hurricanes for 2nd round pick used to select Artur Kayumov in 2016
- Dillon Fournier D (2nd) Played for the Rockford Ice Hogs and Indy Fuel 2014-17 Now retired from hockey
- Ryan Hartman RW (1st) Rockford Ice Hogs and Blackhawks 2013-18, traded to Nashville Predators for Victor Ejdsell and 2018 draft picks that became Nicolas Beaudin and Philipp Kurashev
- Carl Dahlstrom D (2nd) Rockford Ice Hogs 2014-present, has played 11 games with the Blackhawks.
- Nick Schmaltz C (1st) Blackhawks 2016-18, traded to Arizona Coyotes on 11/25/18 for Dylan Strome and Brendan Perlini
- #2 no pick
- #1 no pick
- Graham Knott LW (2nd) Rockford Ice Hogs 2018-present
- Alex DeBrincat RW (2nd) Blackhawks 2017-present
- Chad Krys D (2nd) Boston University 2016-present
- Artur Kayumov RW/LW (2nd) KHL 2016-present
- Henri Jokiharju D (1st) Blackhawks rookie in 2018 – has played 25 games
- Ian Mitchell D (2nd) University of Denver 2017-present
As you can see Stan Bowman’s 1st and 2nd round draft history in the 2010-2014 years leaves a lot to be desired. The players drafted during 2010-14 should be contributing to an NHL team at this point in their careers. It’s not to say that all of Bowman’s picks aren’t contributing in the NHL, it’s just that they’re not doing it in Chicago. Kevin Hayes is playing for the Rangers, Phillip Danault is playing in Montreal, Ryan Hartman is playing in Nashville, and the biggest loss of all Teuvo Teravainen is having a great career in Carolina.
All of these successful picks were traded by Bowman to other teams to make the Blackhawks better. In return for these players, Bowman has zero assets still on the roster. The only exception would be Dylan Strome and Brendan Perlini who Bowman recently acquired in the Nick Schmaltz trade. After trading Nick “our center of the future” Schmaltz, Bowman characterized these two players as “needing a fresh start” to flourish. That sounds eerily familiar to the description of the acquisition of Anthony Duclair last season. Bowman also said Duclair needed a “fresh start” then chose not to offer him a restricted free agent contract after the season. Only time will tell if Strome and Perlini turn out well for a team desperate for immediate success.
Bowman’s Draft Record
Sadly, the only 2010-2014 1st round pick to still be with the team is Brandon Saad and he had to be reacquired from Columbus. Other than Saad, there are several prospects that were drafted as a result of the Bowman trades. Whether these prospects ever turn out to be NHL calibre players is yet to be determined. The Blackhawk faithful would love another one or two Alex DeBrincat type players to develop as quickly as possible. Patience is wearing thin as the Blackhawks decline into irrelevance continues this season.
After firing coach Joel Quenneville the fingers are about to be pointing up at Bowman. His draft record is a major part of the franchise’s recent decline. His trades and off-season moves are also to blame for the Blackhawks struggles to compete night in and night out. Luckily for Bowman, he has his father in his corner to help cover while he tries to correct the team’s fortunes. If things do not improve soon, even the great Scotty Bowman will not be enough to save Bowman’s job.
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