It’s pretty simple. Stan Bowman and the Blackhawks are trying to make the best of a bad situation.
On a late-night conference call to announce the latest salary-cap casualty -- Kris Versteeg, who was dealt to Toronto on Wednesday -- Bowman explained the Hawks' desire to restock the pipeline.
Speaking of which, Bowman rattled off the stars of the team. He said those players will be surrounded by young talent from here on out, and that’s exactly what the Hawks have acquired lately. But we all know none of this would be happening if there was no salary cap.
The bottom line: Since changes had to come, why not max out on them? It’s no coincidence the Hawks traded two players who played the best hockey of their careers this past postseason. Again, it’s about making the best of a rotten situation. With no cap, this team is a dynasty.
Just as big as announcing the trade was Bowman’s casual insistence that he’ll have no trouble signing his big three restricted free agents. Antti Niemi, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Andrew Ladd hit the market Thursday and could potentially be plucked away by another team.
“Offer-sheet talk is of no concern to me,” Bowman said.
He was right about one thing. There haven’t been many restricted free agents that have switched teams over the years. But does that mean the Hawks will match anyone’s offer, or does Bowman just not believe anyone will get an offer?
“[Offer sheets] don’t concern me,” Bowman repeated. “These guys are going to remain with the Blackhawks. We have plenty of flexibility to make things work.”
Maybe now they do. It seemed hard to believe even after the Dustin Byfuglien trade the Hawks would have enough room for all other major names to return. It turns out they didn’t.
As for Versteeg, his acceptance of his role in the playoffs should not be understated or forgotten. A high-risk, high-reward type of player in the regular season, he took care of business in the postseason in his own end first, and then contributed on offense as well. He did his part, and more, in helping the Hawks to the Cup.
It’s been a bloodbath so far, but if Bowman has made the best of the cards he’s been holding, then maybe the Hawks can have that dynasty after all.
They have no choice but to get there this way.