- Jesse Rogers, Chicago Cubs beat reporter
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Stan Bowman’s first major move as general manager could turn out to be a short- and long-term winner.
In obtaining defensemen Kim Johnssonand prospect Nick Leddy from the Minnesota Wild for Cam Barker, Bowman addressed depth on the blue line while shedding salary for next season and helping re-stock the defense for the future.
Johnsson will be the immediate dividend. The 33-year-old Swede is a 10-year veteran who provides depth for all situations.
“We talked about having some experience here,” Bowman said. “We have a young group. He’s been through playoff runs. He’s been to the Olympics. He’s been in high pressure situations before. He’s going to fit in great with the style of play we have here.”
Bowman said Johnsson plays “both ends of the ice” and his flexibility as a player is something Joel Quenneville is going to like. Quenneville has options with Johnsson he didn’t have with Barker. He’s a penalty-killing guy who logged over 23 minutes of ice time for the Wild. He may not need to do that in Chicago, but his durability could allow Quenneville to reduce the minutes of Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook down the stretch.
While Johnsson will try to help win a Cup this season, without Leddy in the deal, Bowman said it would never have gotten done. Leddy, 18, was Minnesota’s first-round draft pick in 2009 and is a freshman at the University of Minnesota.
“We’ve been very high on him since last year when we tried to trade up in the draft to get him, honestly,” Bowman said. “His speed is something that has been talked about quite a bit. He just plays the style of game we play here…He had to be in the mix for this to work.”
Bowman said the deal “didn’t come out of nowhere” and took a couple weeks to finalize. It came just before the NHL trade freeze for the Olympic break.
“Whenever you have a deadline it usually pushes things to a resolution,” Bowman said. “We didn’t have to do it prior to the break, but once we reached the level we were comfortable with, there was no reason to wait.”
Johnsson will debut Saturday night against the Thrashers and wear No. 8.
Bowman says they will continue to look to add depth, if it’s needed, before the March 3 trade deadline. He says they have the cap space to do that but would be just fine, after Friday's deal, if this was his roster.
“[We’re] pretty happy with what we were able to accomplish today,” Bowman said.
Bowman's move could be a short- and long-term winner.