Going into an offseason which follows a first round knockout, it’s clear that the Blackhawks need some changes. Obviously the team they had this year didn’t perform to the hopes of Stan Bowman, and thus he will undoubtedly be working the phones this offseason. But what should the Blackhawks go after? Here are my ideas for Mr. Bowman’s checklist…
1. Re-Sign Corey Crawford-
Obviously, one of the major factors that helped the Blackhawks all season was Corey Crawford’s play in net. The rookie’s 33 wins, 2.30 GAA, and .917 Save % were key to the Hawks this year. Without a Stanley Cup to use as leverage like Antti Niemi had last year, Crawford should come with a manageable raise for the Blackhawks to handle with their constant cap restraints.
2. Acquire a shut-down Defenseman-
Let’s face it, the defense was not the Hawks strong point this year. One of the critical problems the Hawks had at many times this season was being able to close out close games. Acquiring a defensive-minded defenseman would definitely help this problem. With Seabrook and Keith operating on relatively new deals and Campbell’s contract a problem to trade with a lot of money left on it…it seems as if Hjarmalsson would be a likely candidate, but did Bowman fight San Jose and match their offer sheet last summer only to just ship Hammer away this summer? Plus, with Rockford stocked with good young defenseman, it wouldn’t seem like a priority to bring another defenseman into the organization. This will be interesting to see what happens…
3. Sign a Legit 2nd Line Center-
Another problem that seemed to rear its ugly head a lot during the year was the constant failure in the face-off dot. How many times did we see Toews dominate the circle and see the revolving door of centers (Dowell, Frolik, Sharp, etc.) not do their job behind him. Perhaps the two most important aspects of acquiring a good second line center would be an added scoring threat to help relieve pressure off the big 4, as well as allowing Sharp to move back to the wing where he is more dominant.
4. Re-Sign Michael Frolik
The mid-season acquisition from the Florida Panthers seemed to flourish once he made his move to Chicago. He provided a nice secondary scoring option, and especially in the playoffs, proved to be a great linemate with Dave Bolland on the 3rd line. Also, with his low offensive numbers below his career averages, he should be a cheap contract.
What players would you re-sign if you were Bowman? What positions should we go after via trade or Free Agency? Please post in the comments below!