Friday, November 18, 2011
Blackhawks GM in no rush to make deal
By Jesse Rogers
CALGARY, Alberta -- With the recent demotion of forward Rostislav Olesz, the Chicago Blackhawks have between $6 million and $7 million of cap space to spend if they want to make a deal.
But as the NHL's best team entering play Friday, they aren't in any rush.
"We do have more cap space than we've had before," general manager Stan Bowman said before his club took on Calgary on Friday night. "When the time is right, if the opportunity comes we won't be hesitant to move on it. Right now we don't have any things that we're close to doing or looking at, but we're always looking ahead about what might be there. We'll see what happens."
Bowman spoke to Chicago media as his team hit the quarter mark of the season. He's happy with the Hawks' 12-4-3 start but not satisfied.
"It's a fine line between being content and always pushing for more," Bowman said. "I think there are things we can get better at, and that's what we're trying to work on."
Bowman wasn't specific on what he wants his team to improve on, but he's happy with his core players who have rebounded from an average season a year ago.
"We're not looking to do anything in particular," Bowman stated. "We're comfortable with the players we have as well as the start that our top guys have gotten off to. That's really been the one theme. We've had a lot of big performances from a lot of our star players."
Bowman said they had hoped to get more out of Olesz, who they acquired over the summer for Brian Campbell. Sending him to the minors still means he gets paid his full NHL salary of $3.1 million. The Hawks are already paying goalie Cristobal Huet $5.6 million for the last year of his contract. Huet is overseas.
"We're looking to do what we can to be the best team," Bowman explained. "(Owner) Rocky (Wirtz) has said that from the very beginning, that we want to do the right things to give us the best chance to win."
With the Hawks relatively injury-free and with the most points in the NHL entering Friday's play, Bowman will be patient when it comes to the trade market. But that doesn't mean he won't be ready to strike.
"Nobody is giving up on their season yet so that's why we're just trying to monitor players that might become available," he said. "It's a bit of guesswork there but we're doing the best with our staff to try and pinpoint those and make sure we know them well so when that time does come down the road we'll have a good read on whether it's a guy we want to acquire."
If center is still a position the Blackhawks are interested in, Bowman isn't tipping his hand. Patrick Kane has made the adjustment at his new position and Bowman doesn't necessarily foresee a change -- even come playoff time.
"I would assume he's going to keep playing center because he's played very well there," Bowman said. "The biggest thing for us is it's really hard to defend our team when those two lines are clicking."
Bowman acknowledged a lot can change between now and the trade deadline, as well as the playoffs. One thing he is sure of is he likes having a 23-man roster for the first time in several years. It breeds competition.
"Keeping guys hungry to stay in the lineup isn't a bad thing," Bowman said. "If you have no extra players most guys know they're going to be in the lineup next game. Now we have a lot of competition on defense and at forward."
Jesse Rogers covers the Blackhawks for ESPN 1000 and ESPNChicago.com.