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ST.PAUL, Minn. -- Usually a general manager who trades two pieces from a recent championship team and gets very little in return isn’t happy with his day. But that’s not the case for Stan Bowman. His moves have finally given him flexibility to do more of what he wants for the first since taking over the job in the summer of 2009.
“It was a great day for us, yesterday and today,” Bowman said at the conclusion of the NHL draft on Saturday. “In terms of the players we got as well as having more flexibility to spend in the right situation.”
We can argue all day the on-ice value Brian Campbell brings to a team but there is little argument that his salary didn’t justify his production. And in the salary cap world that’s a luxury few teams can afford.
“You saw our cap situation over the last couple years and that’s how its going to be for a while,” Bowman explained. “We have some really good players signed to big tickets and we’re always looking to the future. Obviously, Brian’s contract was one of the largest ones on the books for us. In our team structure the contract made it very difficult.”
Bowman and Panthers’ general manager Dale Tallon both admitted it was Tallon that convinced Campbell to waive his no-trade clause and he did it the same way he convinced Campbell to come to Chicago in the first place: by convincing him they were building a winner. This time in Florida.
“Why wouldn’t he trust me,” Tallon joked.
Bowman admitted the next few days will help determine the direction the Hawks take with their newfound money. Make no mistake, re-building the fourth line into a grittier, meaner trio, who is harder to play against, is a priority.
“We are going to do that, absolutely,” Bowman said without hesitation. “Sometimes you target players and we do have a little bit more room now to make sure we get guys that we value at that position. It’s an important thing.”
So this time around Bowman will have more than the league minimum $500,000 to use when they go fishing for that kind of talent. It should bring them better than Fernando Pisani and Jake Dowell.
The Hawks believe in Dave Bolland and to an extent Marcus Kruger, and despite the lack of major depth at center, they like what they have there at the moment. What they don’t believe in is anyone who occupied the fourth line last year.
“That’s probably the one place we didn’t have consistency not just in the line but the personnel was constantly juggling,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “In the prior year it was more predictable but this year it was a little uncertain.”
As for replacing Campbell on the roster, don’t look for the Hawks to sign or trade for a major name on defense. They won’t want to spend more on their blueline after just relieving themselves of a major headache. They’ll try to promote from within while the current crop of defenders moves up a notch, including big John Scott.
“He’s such a valuable part of our team in terms of being a popular player,” Bowman said of the sometimes maligned winger/defender. “Our players like to have him in the lineup for sure, have him on the ice for sure. He makes a difference that way. He’s an intimidating force. We’d like to get him some more ice time.”
For those worried about that last statement or how the Hawks ultimately replace what Campbell and Troy Brouwer brought to the team, Bowman asks for some patience.
“It’s a little early to have everything mapped out,” he said. “We had some ideas in case this happened but you never know until you make the trade and we just made it less than 24 hours ago. We’ll spend the next few days preparing how we’re going to change the lineup.”
After a dramatic draft weekend which will help reshape the Hawks for years to come, Blackhawks' nation will be watching closely.