Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman swung a couple of deals that may have been tough on fans of Dave Bolland and Michael Frolik. The shine of the 2013 Stanley Cup may make it hard to accept, but Bowman did right by making a pair of Sunday trades.
Bowman was in need of draft picks and was also looking to shed some dollars. He accomplished both within minutes of drafting Ryan Hartman with the ‘Hawks first selection.
Bolland, who seemed destined for a move out of town, went to Toronto for second and fourth-round picks, as well as a fourth-rounder in 2014. Frolik was dealt to Winnipeg for its third and fifth-round selections.
Frolik and Bolland were the last two guys to touch the puck on that fabulous cup-winning goal just one week ago. Fans are still on a championship high. If this move came a few weeks later, it would have been easier to rationalize the trades.
Bowman didn’t have the time to be sentimental, though. He acted with an eye toward the future—as he should have.
There is no assurance that Carl Dahlstrom, John Hayden, Robin Norell (who the ‘Hawks moved up by dealing the fourth-round pick gained by the Maple Leafs to San Jose) or Luke Johnson will become productive NHL players.
That said, this was still the right move for Bowman.
This team will need to rely on the draft to replenish inexpensive role players. That will remain true as long as the 'Hawks retain the core of the organization.
I knew Bowman would not stand pat in this draft with just five picks. But, apparently, eight was enough. (Allow your elders to chuckle at the '70s TV reference.)
Now let’s take a hard look at the players the Blackhawks just lost from the 2013 champs.
I am not going to expound much on Bolland, as I have previously weighed in on the possibilities of his departure. This move was visible from space. Chicago has players who can grow into the checking role the Rat leaves behind.
Frolik, who was a big part of this year’s success, deserves some extra attention, though. Our hearts lament the loss of one of Chicago’s best penalty killers and defensive forwards. I empathize. Frolik bought into his role to the hilt. I wish him well.
If Frolik was making a million dollars to skate on the ‘Hawks fourth line, this move would be a bit of a head-scratcher. However, Frolik was not signed to a three-year deal at a cap hit of $2.33 million to skate fourth-line minutes and play defense.
The ‘Hawks made that deal thinking that eventually Frolik would at least approach the offensive production of his first three seasons in Florida. That never came to pass in two full seasons with the Blackhawks.
Bowman is probably of the mindset that Frolik’s trade value wasn't going to be much higher in Chicago. At the same time, he is likely confident that he can replace Frolik with a cheaper but equally effective player.
I hate to see Frolik go. I will admit that I thought he would survive the offseason and remain in the Indian head sweater. I do see the logic of the move, though.
Bowman has stockpiled prospects that need to get a shot at the roster. He traded two productive and popular players in a quest to pare down salary and generate fresh talent. That’s what you’re going to have to tell your heart for a while.