The Chicago Blackhawks failed to land coveted forward Zach Parise on Wednesday, but general manager Stan Bowman is confident the Blackhawks will get what they need either through free agency, or through trades.
Parise was pursued by the Blackhawks during this early free-agency period but he went home, literally, signing a 13-year, 98-million deal with the Minnesota Wild. It was a disappointing pill to swallow for the Blackhawks; but Parises decision and that of Ryan Suter, who also signed with the Wild and whom also the Blackhawks were interested in early -- didn't totally surprise Bowman.
"We made a very appealing offer to them, but they didn't grow up in Chicago," Bowman said on a conference call on Wednesday night. The Blackhawks were one of the finalists for Parise, and Bowman said they made a "very impressive offer" for the Devils forward.
"Ultimately it came down to a family decision. Those are things that are sometimes hockey decisions, sometimes family decisions, and you respect that," Bowman said. "Players like to play in their hometowns and there are family considerations with the wife. When those are the things that are the tipping point, you have to wish them well and move on to the next matter at hand. We made an impressive case. That's the feedback we got from the agent."
The Blackhawks also went after veteran goaltender Martin Brodeur, who chose to re-sign with the Devils. But Bowman said approaching Brodeur didn't mean his confidence in Corey Crawford and Ray Emery wavered.
"He's the winningest goalie in the game; youd foolish not to talk with him. But beyond that, I don't think it says anything about (lack of confidence)," Bowman said. "I've said this for a long time: anytime you can talk to a player like that, it doesnt really disparage players. You wouldnt be doing your job if you didnt talk to them."
So what's next?
Matt Carle is one of the bigger free agents remaining. Bobby Ryan and Rick Nash have been mentioned in various trades. Considering the deals handed out for defensemen thus far, Carle could be cashing in on a massive payday. The Blackhawks may not want to get caught up in that.
Bowman said hell continue to look at free agency and trade possibilities to improve the Blackhawks, who are coming off two first-round exits. His objective, however, is not necessarily about making a splash.
Our (objective) is to win hockey games, he said. Its to put a team on the ice to give us the best chance to win the Cup next year. Its not like we have seven holes to fill. Last years team had 101 points and there was a lot more to give. There are ways to be better with that same group. Think there was some growth from within that were going to do, and well look at adding players from the outside.
Trades wont be ruled out, either.
A source said that the Blackhawks were looking at Jay Bouwmeester as the calendar turned to July. The Calgary Flames have nine defensemen including Bouwmeester, who has two years remaining on his current contract (at a 6.68 million cap hit per season).
The Blackhawks didnt land Parise. Neither did the other teams who were in hot pursuit of them. Bowman will continue to look at the options. There does need to be changes off last years team, no doubt. But Bowman wont break the bank, and the Blackhawks dont need a complete overhaul to get where they need to be.
Im not saying were simply going to sit and stand still where were at. Theres always the possibility of making acquisitions, trades, he said. We cant forget that in the season last year, we didnt have ending we wanted. But weve got some good pieces in Chicago, and were fortunate for that.