The Blackhawks might have lost their star offensive player for 12 weeks with a broken clavicle, but Bowman had a chance to keep his team a Stanley Cup contender because Kane’s injury happened just before the trade deadline. A week later and Bowman would have been out of luck.
Instead, Bowman went to work. His phone rarely left his ear. Following nearly four days of exploring countless trade options, he pulled the trigger twice in consecutive days. He acquired defenseman Kimmo Timonen from the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday, then grabbed one of the biggest names on the market Saturday by acquiring forward Antoine Vermette from the Arizona Coyotes.
Timonen filled a definite need at defenseman. The Blackhawks haven’t had the same defensive depth since trading Nick Leddy prior to the season. Rookie Trevor van Riemsdyk showed some potential early on, but a knee injury in November derailed his season. Since then, the Blackhawks have had a revolving door for their sixth defenseman. There is an unknown in that Timonen hasn’t played all season due to blood clots and he’s 39, but the Blackhawks saw the trade as low risk, high reward in that he’ll help them if he’s anywhere near what he’s been in the past.
With Vermette, the Blackhawks add another versatile forward. He isn’t Kane, but he can help a team as a solid two-way forward. He can contribute offensively and defensively, win faceoffs and spend time on the penalty and power play. He's a top-six forward who will likely help the Blackhawks in a top-none role.
The Blackhawks are also stronger down the middle with centers Jonathan Toews, Brad Richards, Marcus Kruger and Vermette. They also have Teuvo Teravainen and Andrew Shaw, who play center or wing. The Blackhawks had trouble matching up with the Los Angeles Kings at center in the Western Conference finals last season. Vermette would help there.
There was some question if Bowman would have to give up too much to get a quality defenseman and center. It cost the Blackhawks a first-round pick, a second-rounder, potentially another second-rounder and one prospect. That's a lot of future pieces, but it’s certainly a price the Blackhawks happily paid.
Aside from Klas Dahlbeck, whose future with the Blackhawks was unknown, the organization didn’t give up any other prospects it was high on. Chicago still has players such as Mark McNeill, Stephen Johns, Ryan Hartman and Phillip Danault, whom they foresee filling in around Kane and Toews for years to come.
The traded draft picks could be valuable, particularly in a deep 2015 draft, but the Blackhawks would have selected players they envisioned helping them well down the line. They have mostly drafted college and European players in recent years because their timetable to get them to the NHL is much longer. They already have a number of young college players, including Nick Schmaltz, John Hayden, Anthony Louis and Vince Hinostroza, who are still a number of years away from helping them.
The Blackhawks would undoubtedly prefer having Kane healthy -- you can't replace the league's points leader -- but Bowman made the most out of a tough situation. And if the Blackhawks can advance a few rounds, they would welcome back Kane to a team that includes both Timonen and Vermette. That's a team the rest of the NHL doesn't want to see.