Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said Wednesday that trade discussions were going well and that he expects them to increase leading up to Friday’s NHL draft.
The Blackhawks are expected to make at least a few trades during the offseason in order to re-sign restricted free agents Brandon Saad and Marcus Kruger and remain under next season’s salary cap, which was recently announced at $71.4 million.
“You know, it’s still early,” Bowman said on a conference call Wednesday. “Those things typically heat up as you get closer to the draft. I would characterize it as a typical time of year. There’s a lot talk amongst all the general managers, most of which doesn’t really go anywhere, but sometimes things will play out and you can make a deal. It’s your job to keep in touch with everybody and find out what they’re looking to do.”
“It’s a process. I think that’s what we have to do, which is contact other teams, find out what needs they may have, it might mesh with what they’re trying to do. Sometimes it doesn’t, and you move on. Each team is unique in terms of what their needs are at certain positions and where they’re at. … You keep working through it, still a lot more discussions to have. At this point, things are going along well.”
Bowman said he didn’t think of the salary-cap number as good or bad. He said the organization had been preparing for a number of scenarios, including at $71.4 million.
“We don’t handicap it that way in terms of when you have to have things all mapped out by,” Bowman said. “We obviously have to have it done by the start of the season, and last year it worked out better to wait a little longer. And that might be the case this year or we might do things sooner. I don’t know if there’s really a preferred method. We’ll just see how things go in terms of which of those would play itself out.”
Bowman has made moves at the draft in recent years. He traded Brandon Bollig to the Calgary Flames at the draft in 2014 and traded Michael Frolik to the Winnipeg Jets and Dave Bolland to the Toronto Maple Leafs at the draft in 2013.
The Blackhawks enter this year’s draft with seven picks. They traded their first-round pick as part of the deal to acquire Antoine Vermette from the Arizona Coyotes and their second-round pick to acquire Kimmo Timonen from the Philadelphia Flyers. They will have the No. 54 overall pick, 91, 121, 151, 164, 181 and 211. Blackhawks amateur scoring direct Mark Kelley said Wednesday the draft was deep in talent.
Bowman said he was open to acquiring more draft picks, as he has done in the past.
“I think it’s the same thing every year, you’re always wanting to get more draft picks,” Bowman said. “That’s the goal anytime you lead into a draft. I wouldn’t say that this is any different from that. So, if we can acquire additional picks, which we have been able to do on occasion in previous years, I think that would be great. If not, we still have seven picks in the draft, and we’ll make our decisions and hopefully add some players we’re really excited about.”