- Scott Powers, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman hasn’t changed his mind about his core group.
Bowman said Tuesday he doesn’t plan on making many changes to the Blackhawks’ roster in the offseason after his team lost in the Western Conference finals to the Los Angeles Kings this season and failed to repeat as Stanley Cup champions.
“I don’t think we’re going to have wholesale changes. That certainly isn’t warranted at this point,” Bowman said. “Our team performed very well in most areas of the game. Ways to improve would be certain players are going to be looking growth from within. We’ve still got lot of young players that play big roles on our team, and I think you saw that this year.”
Nineteen of the 26 players on the Blackhawks’ playoff roster are signed for next season. Bowman said he hoped to re-sign restricted free agents Jeremy Morin, Ben Smith and Antti Raanta. Unrestricted free agents Sheldon Brookbank, Michal Handzus, Peter Regin and Nikolai Khabibulin are not expected to be re-signed. Prospect Teuvo Teravainen is also expected to be included in the Blackhawks’ mix next season.
Bowman thought a few new players could be added before next season, but he expressed that the Blackhawks’ identity wasn’t going to be altered.
“There will be some new faces coming next year,” Bowman said. “I think the most important thing for us is to maintain that same style of play. It’s been successful for us obviously the last few seasons. Looking forward, we’re not going to deviate because that’s what the core of our team does well. We’re going to try and accentuate that , whether it’s with bigger players or making a couple additions here or there. There are a lot of options.”
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was also confident the team’s current group could continue to compete for Stanley Cups. Seven current Blackhawks played key roles in their Stanley Cup championships in 2010 and 2013, and 16 current players were significant contributors to just the 2013 title.
“To be honest with you, I love our group,” Toews said. It’s a great group of guys and the guys that have been here for a while and will be here for another extended period of time, those are the guys that are the leaders in our room, the main reasons we’ve had so much success the last few years.
“And I think we’ve just done such a great job with some of those other guys, especially young guys that have a lot of that potential to bring that similar character and same similar leadership to our team are learning a lot from going through series like we just did and even winning a championship last year.
“Like I said, there’s so much potential with the group we have right now. Even the guys that have done it before, this feeling of losing -- even if you won two Stanley Cups already -- to feel this is something completely different and you learn from it and grow from it, so I think as a group we’re all going to do that. I think there’s a long ways for us to grow and get better.”