The Chicago Blackhawks acquired defenseman Johnny Oduya from the Winnipeg Jets earlier today, and sent John Scott to the New York Rangers.
After Stan Bowman’s press conference came to an end, Twitter flooded with panicking fans speculating that Bowman hinted he has given up on this season and has entered “rebuild mode” after expressing lots of confidence in his young players. My response: you’re dead wrong.
What Stan Bowman basically “hinted” at during his press conference is that the Blackhawks’ biggest problem lies within their current roster. In fact, it’s the younger players that have emerged and have stolen the show when the Blackhawks aren’t at their best. It’s really simple: they just aren’t executing, especially on special teams. Nobody’s willing to take sacrifices, block shots, or commit defensively.
So what deadline deals did Stan Bowman make today? He essentially added their biggest positional need in Johnny Oduya: a defender that is capable of skating top-4 minutes taking some of the work load away from Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, and a guy that can effectively play on the penalty kill.
It’s funny though because the people that were criticizing Stan Bowman for not making a deadline deal with hours left on the clock were the same people that whined about Bowman sacrificing a 2nd and 3rd round pick to Winnipeg and thought the price for Oduya was “too steep.” Stan can’t win in this town, can he?
In July, Hockey Prospectus ranked the Chicago Blackhawks 5th in the NHL for organizational depth and ESPN.com ranked them 4th in August before the 2011-2012 season began. Does that make you feel better? What should though, is that the draft picks Stan Bowman had to give up in the Oduya deal happen to be in 2013, and he didn’t even surrender a 1st-round pick. That’s a pretty fair deal if you look at the top prospects in the organization that will most likely be playing full-time minutes in the NHL in 2013.
Was Johnny Oduya’s acquisition enough? Probably not, as I expected Chicago to land a defensive forward or the ideal 2nd line center as well, but Bowman didn’t give up after that. He aggressively went after the guy he wanted, obtained him, and immediately shifted his focus to Buffalo forward Derek Roy as soon as the Oduya deal went through and fought till the end. Yes, Roy would have been a really nice addition for the Blackhawks to say the least, but the price for a couple other bottom 6 forwards that were dealt today were through the roof.
Example: Paul Gaustad was sent out of Buffalo to the Nashville Predators for a 1st-round pick in 2012. Are you kidding me? A rental third line center that’s an unrestricted free agent after this season went for a 1st-rounder? His former teammate, Derek Roy, whom Bowman chased after acquiring Oduya, ranks third on the Sabres in scoring and carries a $4 million cap hit throughout the 2012-2013 season. Buffalo’s asking price for Roy almost surely would have been twice as high so Bowman decided not to hit the desperation button, and stayed put.
Stan Bowman ultimately added the Blackhawks’ biggest need today, and desperately overpaying for expensive players isn’t the solution now, and will only hurt them in the future. Although he couldn’t pull the trigger on a minor deal to help their depth at the forward position, the Blackhawks have enough talent on their current roster to break out of their slump and the addition of Johnny Oduya will only help them in the long run and hopefully give this team a boost in the areas they struggle in. Only time will tell how much of an impact this deal turns out to be, but for now, Stan’s job is done. It’s now up to the players to get themselves back to the top of the mountain.