Are the Blackhawks Actually Rebuilding?

When Stan
Bowman said Corey Crawford wasn’t coming back, and are going with
Colin Delia and Malcolm Subban, it seems to signal a rebuild. Then
the next day the Blackhawks sent Brandon Saad to Colorado. It all
would seemingly signal a rebuild, but are they really?

One of the
goals for the season was to clear up some spots on the blue line for
the returning Brent Seabrook and some of the kids. Shipping off Oli
Maata was a start but in the Saad trade Chicago took back defensemen
Nikita Zadorov and Anton Lindholm. The trade did save Chicago about
1.5 million but what did it accomplish? Bowman traded his best trade
chip and got back no picks or young players.

Trading Maata
and Saad and letting Crawford walk added up to about 10.5 million
dollars in cap space, but Dominik Kubalik signed a two year deal with
a  cap hit of 3.7 million. That’s a big move that needed to get done
but goalie looks weak and the Blackhawks lose about 20 goals a season
from Saad. I’m still hopeful for Dylan Strome, who was tendered a
contract, Kirby Dach looked promising in his rookie season and Alex
DeBrincat needs a bounce back but what is the actual direction for
Chicago?

Stan Bowman’s
comments have alluded to a rebuild, and so have the players being
moved, but is Chicago actually rebuilding? There’s no room right now
for another young defenseman to get playing time and Bowman hasn’t
acquired any picks or young players. With the suppressed cap
situation for the upcoming season also, how many moves does Bowman
actually have left?

Crawford
signed a two year deal with the New Jersey Devils for a 3.9 million
dollar cap hit. That seems like a contract the Blackhawks could have
fit in and given themselves competent goal tending for the 2021
season. But it’s a rebuild, alright go through with it. Get as many
kids seasoning as you can, but instead Bowman got another defenseman
in his prime.

I know it’s
blasphemous to even talk about trading Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews
or even Duncan Keith, and I don’t want to see them gone, but what’s
the direction. If they’re staying in Chicago then Bowman shouldn’t be
wasting their seasons. Now, I’m not necessarily saying trade the
picks and farm to build a non-playoff team to fringe playoffs, but
how about a consistent direction?

Chicago was
one of the youngest teams in the expanded playoffs and saw the kids
step up but also saw just how far away they were. Another season of
that with the defense featuring kids would have made sense as the
core of the Stanley Cup teams is their to elevate the team, but
instead Bowman is making moves that signal trying to go both ways.
Getting another in his prime defenseman without a competent goalie
makes no sense. It’s also wasting another season to evaluate any of
the prospects to see what you have.

Bowman has put
the Hawks in cap hell with no relief in sight and that hinders what
he can do, but leadership needs to pick a direction and see it
through. Stan is clearly terrified of bottoming out for fear of
losing his job in the fans so instead Chicago will be wallowing in no
man’s land, not a threat for the Cup and not getting premiere picks.

Calvin de Haan
or Connor Murphy look likely to move, possibly both. Speculation, and
probably a fantasy, but things got ugly in the post season between
Marc-Andre Fleury and Las Vegas. Now that two year seven million
dollar cap hit is too much for the Blackhawks but the Golden Knights
have been looking for a defenseman in free agency. Could their be a
match there that improves the goalie situation for Chicago, gets rid
of the locker room distraction and gets Vegas a quality defenseman?

Zack Smith and
Andrew Shaw combine for 7.1 million this season, Shaw has two years
left, and are both buyout candidates but will Bowman do it? On reason
Drake Caggiula wasn’t tendered a contract was because he was similar
to Shaw, who is likely unable to be moved. Can he stay healthy? Will
Smith contribute anything?

Regardless of
what Bowman has said of the direction for the Blackhawks he has put
Chicago in a position of having more questions than they started
with. Loyalty has been a big reason the Hawks have found themselves
in cap hell, see Bryan Bickell contract and subsequent trade of Teuvo
Teravainen to move him. Moving on from Crawford seemed like a final
change in that but I’m not so sure. I’m not confident in the
direction of this team and it likely will mean very little success
for the remaining primes of Kane and Toews.