Chicago Blackhawks

Deadline Day: More on The Core

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Deadline Day: More on The Core

Stan Bowman addressed whats been his top priority the last couple of months. The question is whether thats all his team needs now. A lot of Blackhawks fans feel they needed more, based on recent returns.

Whats clear is the Vice President and General Manager is putting his faith in the same core that led the team to the Stanley Cup two years ago to get the team consistently back on track, finish strong and be a playoff force. Hes putting his faith in Jonathan Toews getting back on the ice soon, as well as members of the supporting cast hes assembled to step up their games.

Theyre even more on their own physically for the rest of the season with their big bodyguard dealt away in their only other trade.

Though he probably shopped around and wished another part or two wouldve been easier to pry loose, the prices that were paid for those that moved were fairly steep. Some might argue the second- and third-round picks he sacrificed for Johnny Oduya may have been too much. But the current four-point cushion his team has between being in, or out of, the playoffs with 18 games left is all on the current group.

From kids like Jimmy Hayes, Dylan Olsen and Andrew Shaw, to veterans Andrew Brunette, Bryan Bickell, Michael Frolik and Viktor Stalberg stepping up more consistently and the stars needing to play more like stars. Not to mention the goalies needing to stop the pucks they see, he had to make a call whether he wanted to sacrifice a first-rounder, or a Hayes, Olsen, Brandon Saad or Mark McNeill for a new piece to the supporting cast that may or may not make a greater difference.

Disgruntled Hawks fans believe the team needs a shakeup. Bowman chose to stay the course, but probably saw what the rest of us saw over the weekend: They need to be a lot better. He believes they will be.

Sellers were few. Prices were high. It was patience over pulling the trigger, which is difficult for those impatient after watching them lose 12 of 16 since leading the league, slipping to sixth place and seeing their playoff margin for error shrink with a brutal schedule down the stretch to understand.

Hes expecting his group to respond. Now its up to them and the coaching staff to get back on track and prove him right.

Could Hobey Baker winner Will Butcher be an option for Blackhawks?

Could Hobey Baker winner Will Butcher be an option for Blackhawks?

The calendar is quickly approaching August and a majority of the NHL's top free agents have already signed new deals or found new homes. But there's one marquee player who has suddenly shaken loose, and will surely draw heavy interest across the league.

That would be 22-year-old defenseman Will Butcher, who informed the Colorado Avalanche that he will hit the open market and become an unrestricted free agent on Aug. 15.

Butcher, a 2013 fifth-round draft pick, was named the recipient of the 2017 Hobey Baker Award, annually given to college hockey's top player, after scoring seven goals and 30 assists in 43 games during his senior campaign while helping Denver University capture its first national title since 2005. It's the second straight year NCAA's top player has elected not to sign with the club that drafted him, with Jimmy Vesey doing the same last year when he signed with the New York Rangers instead of the Nashville Predators.

So could Butcher be a real option for the Blackhawks? There's certainly a reason for both sides to be intrigued by a potential match. 

With Brian Campbell, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya no longer in the picture, the Blackhawks could use a young, NHL-ready blue liner with top-four potential and Butcher provides just that.

He's a 5-foot-10, 186-pound puck-moving defenseman with high offensive upside but also plays a solid two-way game and is responsible in his own end. He carries a left-handed shot, quarterbacked Denver's No. 1 power play unit and possesses strong leadership skills after serving as the team's captain for two years.

While he is certainly no sure thing, Butcher would be as close to pro ready as any prospect in Chicago's system and could factor into the cards as soon as this season. It also doesn't hurt that he shared the same blue line at Denver as Blackhawks prospect Blake Hillman, who drew great reviews from Joel Quenneville at prospect camp.

The good news for the cap-crunched Blackhawks is that the maximum allowable salary for an entry-level contract is $925,000, so that eliminates the possibility of getting into a bidding war with other teams. Signing and performance bonuses can still be included, but that's the least of their worries if they can land a player of Butcher's caliber.

His decision will really come down to best fit and opportunity to play and win, and the Blackhawks can offer all of the above.

Niklas Hjalmarsson says goodbye to Chicago in emotional Instagram post

Niklas Hjalmarsson says goodbye to Chicago in emotional Instagram post

Niklas Hjalmarsson has called Chicago home ever since he was drafted by the Blackhawks in 2005. But now it's time for a new chapter.

After being traded to the Arizona Coyotes in June, the former Blackhawks defenseman officially said goodbye to the city he spent a decade in and helped bring three Stanley Cups to with an emotional Instagram post that perfectly sums up his time here:

One marriage. Two kids. Three rings. 

Hjalmarsson will forever hold a special place in the hearts of Blackhawks fans.