The trade rumors haven’t had as much time to swirl this offseason, basically because the offseason truly started moments after the Blackhawks beat the Bruins for the Stanley Cup late Monday night.
But the rumors, the potential trade-bait names, are out there nonetheless. And one out there is the guy who scored the Cup-clinching goal.
Dave Bolland’s name has been bandied about as potential trade-bait, as the 2013 NHL Entry Draft looms Sunday and free agency begins July 5. The Blackhawks are in a bit of a money crunch – nothing like 2010, mind you – as teams try to whittle down to the $64.3 million cap that begins with the 2013-14 season. They also have a key guy or two to sign – or try to, anyway – in Nick Leddy and Bryan Bickell. Those guys are going to take some cash, and the Blackhawks, outside of compliance buyouts toward Steve Montador and Rostislav Olesz, need to free up some.
So Bolland possibilities are out there. It’s tough news for any player to hear, especially one like Bolland, who’s been with this organization his entire career. But he’s taking it for what it is.
“I’d love to be back here next year, but whatever happens, happens,” he said at Thursday’s media availability. “It’s the NHL. Trades happen. I’d love to be back here, I love Chicago. But it’s a game and this is what can happen.”
Bolland had a pretty tough season, and he was once again dogged by injuries. He had back issues at one point; then a groin injury cost him the end of the regular season and first round against the Minnesota Wild. His numbers weren’t there, either, with just seven goals and seven assists in 35 regular-season games. A proven checking-line center, Bolland was moved to the second-line role this season. It didn’t go so well.
For Bolland, the good times, individually, didn’t strike until the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup Final series against the Boston Bruins. Playing both third- and fourth-line roles, Bolland looked like the Bolland of old and recorded three goals and two assists over those six Final games. His last goal was the biggest of his career to date, a rebound off a Michael Frolik deflection to give the Blackhawks their second Cup in the past four seasons.
“I don’t think it has (sunk in yet). It’s still just roaming around in the air that I scored that,” Bolland said. “I still look back at it and I still can’t believe it. It’s every kid’s dream to score that goal, and I did it. It’s big, and I’ll ride it right now.”
How long Bolland remains in a Blackhawks uniform remains to be seen. There’s always some name thrown out in trade talks every season; last year for the Blackhawks, Niklas Hjalmarsson was the talk of potential trade rumors. Yet here he remains. But the Blackhawks weren’t in the same situation last season. The cap wasn’t an issue whatsoever and the Blackhawks didn’t have any players due a raise. That’s changed now, especially regarding Bickell, who the Blackhawks want to try and re-sign.
Bolland knows what the business is like. He’ll just watch it play out. Whatever happens, that last goal erased some frustration of what’s been a very tough individual season.
“To bounce back like that is big. It was a fun season for the team, but it was disappointing for me as a player, but that’s how you bounce back,” he said. “I still have many years to play, and that’s how you bounce back.”