Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said Friday’s moves to reacquire Brandon Saad, trade for Connor Murphy and deal away Niklas Hjalmarsson and Artemi Panarin weren’t just because of what happened against the Predators.
“These moves were not based just on one playoff round,” Bowman said. “I think it’s more about looking ahead to the future.”
By getting Saad (24 years old), Murphy (24) along with forward Laurent Dauphin (22) and goalie Anton Forsberg (24), the Hawks definitely got younger. In Saad and Murphy, they also got the kind of players it looked like they lacked against Nashville, when the Hawks played like an older and slower team.
Yet Bowman insisted the deals were about more than the four humbling games in April. Instead, the young guys were added to a team that saw breakthroughs from youngsters Nick Schmaltz, Ryan Hartman, Tanner Kero and John Hayden.
“We want to continue to be a team that’s in the top echelon and pushing to win a Stanley Cup every season. Sometimes that requires some infusion of young players,” Bowman said. “I think you saw that last year with guys who are breaking through for their first NHL experiences and I think there’s more to come from those guys that I mentioned.”
After Friday, the complexion of the Hawks has changed, as their transformation into a young team went up another level. And with Saad and Murphy, the Hawks have young players who have experience in the NHL.
“I think having some young guys who played in the league for a few hundred games is also really good,” Bowman said. “I can’t put too much of it just on one playoff round. That probably wouldn’t be accurate. More of a bigger picture for where we’re headed as a franchise.”
The direction of the Hawks is now altered. But in Saad and Murphy they have players under long-term control, and a dressing room that will feel different.
That said, there will be the same hopes and expectations.
“We’ve still got an incredible core of players here that have accomplished an awful lot together. I think they can get energized by having some of these young guys,” Bowman said. “We’re looking for that spark to achieve even more things down the road. Change is not always easy but I think it’s necessary and I think we’re looking forward. We’re excited about the potential for this group.”
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