NHL Trade Deadline: Did Stan Bowman Strike Out?

NHL Trade Deadline: Did Stan Bowman Strike Out?

When the dust settled, the Blackhawks had traded John Scott and second and third round picks in the 2013 NHL Draft for defenseman Johnny Oduya and a fifth round pick.

Is that enough? 

Quite simply, no, it isn't.

Oduya is a nice defenseman who the Hawks will rent for the rest of this season. He’s an unrestricted free agent this summer. And getting a fifth round pick for John Scott borders on highway robbery.

That isn’t enough.

Not for the 2011-12 Chicago Blackhawks to chase a Stanley Cup.

But was it enough for the Blackhawks to be a playoff team in April?

Looking around the teams of direct concern to the Hawks, it’s clear that the cost of getting anything done at this deadline was astronomical. Toronto GM Brian Burke has been very outspoken in the last 24 hours about the “ridiculous” cost to make a deal happen this year, and the deals that ultimately did happen indicate he was correct.

The big winners of the deadline in the NHL were the Nashville Predators, who continues to go-for-broke with the additions of forwards Paul Gaustad and Andrei Kostitsyn. Ultimately, those deals have cost the Predators a second round pick in 2013 and and a first round pick in 2012.

Detroit added defenseman Kyle Quincey a few days ago. St. Louis did nothing.

But the reality Blackhawks fans have to own right now is that the Hawks are clinging to sixth place in the Western Conference. Catching Detroit, St. Louis or even Nashville is doubtful. Bowman’s job was to keep the Hawks in the playoff picture.

And, based on what teams around the Blackhawks did before the deadline, Bowman may have accomplished that goal.

San Jose made one move, trading Jamie McGinn and a couple prospects to Colorado for forwards TJ Galiardi and Daniel Winnik. Does that make them better? Perhaps. But they’re in the same mess as the Blackhawks, and didn’t address the questions on their blue line.

Dallas did nothing. Steve Ott stayed put at the end of the day, meaning they only made the one deal with the Flyers a couple weeks ago. Their issue has been getting outscored, and they moved their best defenseman. Being quiet may, or may not, have been the best course of action for the Stars.

The Kings, who are five points behind the Hawks in ninth and have won only three of their last ten, made the biggest name move of the deadline in adding Jeff Carter. Is adding him enough to push them into the playoff mix? Perhaps.

Colorado’s only move was with the Sharks. They moved a couple forwards out and brought one back. That doesn’t appear on face value to be enough for the Avs to jump two teams into the playoff picture. The Avs are also five points behind the Hawks.

Calgary is six points behing the Hawks and did nothing.

Minnesota might have made the most intriguing moves of the teams that are considered close to the playoff picture. They made two bold moves on their blue line, trading Nick Schultz to Edmonton for Tom Gilbert and then trading Greg Zanon to Boston for Steve Kampfer. Is that enough for them to make up a five-point gap and jump four teams to get into the postseason? I’m not sure.

Clearly, the Blackhawks surveyed the NHL, and Western Conference, landscape and considered their organizational depth and made calculated moves to put this year’s team in position to make the playoffs without compromising the pipeline.

Which for many fans isn’t going to be good enough.

Bowman did not, at the end of the day, add the top-six center that the team needs. The Blackhawks also didn’t utilize the cap space created when they traded Brian Campbell out of town, which is disappointing.

But will the organization respond by (finally) moving Patrick Sharp (back) to center? Considering what Nashville paid for Gaustad, a third-line center, adding a player like Derek Roy may have been cost prohibitive.

What Bowman did accomplish was adding a player capable of skating top-four minutes and killing penalties to the lineup. Oduya will help clean up the Hawks’ zone, and the blue line will be better if/when Niklas Hjalmarsson returns to the lineup. If Oduya continues playing around 19 minutes per game, he’ll take ice time away from Nick Leddy and Duncan Keith, which should improve their play as well.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that Bowman’s hope is that the return of Hjalmarsson and a fully healthy Jonathan Toews, with the addition of Oduya, is good enough for the Blackhawks to hang on to the sixth playoff spot and then the team can get hot and give the Pacific Division champion hell.

Opinions will vary on the performance of Bowman at the deadline. Did he succeed in keeping the Blackhawks a playoff team? Perhaps. Did he put them in position to win a championship? Doubtful.

Remember these standings, which is how the Western Conference looked when the deadline arrived. Where the Blackhawks go from here is up to the players on the roster.

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