Stan Bowman (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The NHL trade deadline came and went Wednesday afternoon with a minimum of fanfare for the Chicago Blackhawks. They acquired prospect Maxim Sauve from the Boston Bruins, but aside from their acquisition of center Michal Handzus from the San Jose Sharks, they did not acquire any pieces to help them in their goal of obtaining a Stanley Cup championship.
For some fans, those minor moves weren’t good enough. Some were concerned about improvements by teams like the St. Louis Blues when they acquired Jay Bouwmeester from the Flames, or the Vancouver Canucks in their acquisition of Derek Roy, but their worries are unfounded.
The fact of the matter is that there really weren’t that many players available that could have demonstrably helped the Blackhawks to win the Cup. Tyler Bozak was yanked off the market by the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Washington Capitals elected to try to negotiate a contract extension with Mike Riberio instead of shipping him out of town.
About the only player that could have conceivably fit into the Blackhawks plans would have been Buffalo Sabres forward Steve Ott, but in the end, the Sabres decided to hold onto him and Thomas Vanek so their offense could maintain at least some level of respectability with the departure of Jason Pominville.
With the market devoid of any surefire successful acquisitions, GM Stan Bowman had two options. He could either overpay to get one of the guys that could probably help the team out, or he could stand pat. By choosing the latter option, he did risk the ire of Hawks fans for not actively trying to improve the club, but that is a small price to pay to keep the team’s large contingent of quality prospects in place for future use, either by implementation into the NHL roster or in a trade at a date when it is more beneficial to do so, such as the NHL Entry Draft over the summer.
All of that being said, people who make the mistake of saying that the team is perfectly constructed are equally incorrect. This team does have some flaws that may end up costing them a championship in the end, such as an unsettled second line center position and the lack of a face-off expert who can actually skate well after winning the draw (sorry Handzus). These deficiencies, while minor, are things that Bowman and the club brass will have to address moving forward, but there was no magic bullet that was going to cure these ills at the deadline, much to the chagrin of some of those that follow the team.
The divisions between Hawks fans on the matter of trade deadline acquisitions are outrageous in their own right. It seems as though fans are being lumped into two categories: either you think this team is doomed to fail or you are a pie in the sky idealist who would be better served being exported to the idyllic times of the Brady Bunch rather than the cold hard present. Both of these extremes are nonsensical, and miss the whole point of these proceedings.
Yes, the Chicago Blackhawks are a legitimate contender as currently constructed. No, they are absolutely not perfect and immune from criticism. The truth is that there is room for improvement for any NHL club, because if there wasn’t, then there would be no reason to play the games in the first place.