Stan Bowman Speaks: Adding Marc-Andre Fleury, Salary Cap Space, Offseason Moves, More

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Stan Bowman Speaks: Adding Marc-Andre Fleury, Salary Cap Space, Offseason Moves, More

Chicago Blackhawks

A lot has happened in the world of the Chicago Blackhawks since before the NHL Entry Draft. That was also the last time we heard from Blackhawks President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Stan Bowman. After going through the Entry Draft and the beginning of NHL Free Agency, the Blackhawks are looking like a much different team, heading in a much different direction as an organization than they did just two weeks ago.

Addressing the offseason in general, Bowman says this summer’s moves were part of a process “set in place a couple years ago.”

So what was all that “rebuilding” talk? As much as we were told the Blackhawks would take the long route to rebuilding their team back to Stanley Cup contention, they’ve accelerated the process this offseason with the moves they’ve made, going back into their old ways of “re-tooling.” We’ll see where it goes, I guess.

The biggest addition this offseason, in a short-term sense, was acquiring 2021 Vezina Trophy winner Marc-André Fleury. It was touch and go for a while whether or not Fleury would play in Chicago at first, but we learned this weekend that the 36-year-old goaltender is committed to play for the Blackhawks.

Fleury not only makes the Blackhawks a more watchable team this season and potentially a Stanley Cup playoff-contender, he becomes a likable player, one of the most liked in the league, on a team needing good PR.

Fleury, along with Seth Jones, Jake McCabe, Tyler Johnson, and a healthy Jonathan Toews make for a huge offseason for Chicago, looking to get back out of the cellar in the Central Division.

One of the biggest keys this upcoming year will be the health of Toews. He was seen this weekend having a great time at Alex DeBrincat’s wedding and at Lollapalooza, so you would think he’s feeling pretty good these days. The Blackhawks are still slow-playing the return of Toews, but at this point in time, Bowman feels like things are headed in the right direction.

Chicago had a lot of salary cap space to work with this offseason, something they haven’t had in a long time. But with all the moves this summer, Chicago has gone right back to being one of the team’s in the NHL flirting with the $81.5M salary cap ceiling. But with Andrew Shaw’s contract set to be placed on LTIR once the season begins, Stan Bowman feels like there doesn’t need to be any more moves made this offseason to create space.

While they don’t have to make a move, that doesn’t mean the Blackhawks couldn’t make one that makes sense to them. A few players that I would keep my eye on as the season approaches are Dylan Strome, Brett Connolly, Malcolm Subban, and Collin Delia.

With Fleury playing this season, Chicago has four goaltenders with NHL contracts this season between him, Subban, Delia, and Arvid Söderblom. Without the taxi squad this season, Chicago will likely only carry two goaltenders. That will likely be Fleury and Lankinen, leaving Delia, Subban, Söderblom, and Cale Morris playing for the Rockford IceHogs at the AHL level. That’s a crowded and some too talented for the AHL crop of goalies.

Strome and Connolly don’t have massive contracts, but they are making a decent chunk of change to likely play in either middle or bottom-six forward roles. With the influx of young players coming back from last season and coming into the fold fresh this year, there could be some money-saving moves made by Chicago as the season approaches or in season.

Speaking of middle and bottom-six forwards, Bowman touched on letting Pius Suter and David Kämpf go in free agency. Two potentially underrated forwards that the Blackhawks are going to bank on being replaceable by the likes of Tyler Johnson, Henrik Borgström, a healthy Kirby Dach, a healthy Jonathan Toews, and maybe even Lukas Reichel.

Then there is all of the off-ice issues with the Chicago Blackhawks and Stan Bowman. You know the story by now, the Blackhawks have two lawsuits pending against them stemming from sexual abuse, harassment, and assault incidents involving former video coach Brad Aldrich. On Monday, it was revealed that the team will make the findings of the independent review being conducted by the law firm of Jenner and Block open to the public.

As for Bowman, he reiterated his intention to cooperate with the investigation, but said nothing much more than that.

Bowman is slated to be the General Manager of Team USA at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. But with the investigation and lawsuits still ongoing, there has been pressure and public outcry for Bowman to be relieved of his position with USA Hockey. He was asked about that situation by TSN’s Rick Westhead, one of the most prominent journalists covering the sexual assault and abuse lawsuits, and Bowman could not give much of an answer.

We are continuing to have to compartmentalize the on-ice and off-ice dealings of the Blackhawks organization. Bowman gave us some insight as to what the team may do as the summer continues, which is giving me some hope that the team can be watchable and competitive again, but in the backdrop of all of this are the pending lawsuits and allegations against the team. Any time that Bowman is front and center, that will be the atmosphere the Blackhawks are operating in until the investigations and the lawsuits come to their conclusions. On the ice, things are looking up, and that’s something fans can try to hang their hats on this offseason so far for Chicago.

Author: Mario Tirabassi

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.