As usual, Stan Bowman in no hurry to make a move

SHARE As usual, Stan Bowman in no hurry to make a move

Stan Bowman still has plenty of moves to make after the draft. (Getty Images)

You wanted action. You wanted to see Stan Bowman be a major player, walking the floor at the draft, striking up conversations and striking deals. You wanted to rip the Band-Aid off.

It didn’t happen. And now… you wait.

If the grueling two-month grind of the Stanley Cup playoffs was an exhilarating kind of agony, this offseason could wind up being the agonizing kind of agony: a slow bleed, a summer of celebration becoming a summer of angst. Patrick Sharp will be traded — but when? Bryan Bickell could be traded — but when? Brandon Saad will be re-signed — but when? Marcus Kruger should be re-signed — but when?

“We have some things we’re still working on,” Bowman said after the draft on Saturday, calm and relaxed as ever. “But we’re not putting any time frames on things.”

This is Bowman. This is who he is. In a league populated by impulse-buyers, Bowman is the guy perusing every gallon of milk for the latest expiration date. He could have made a trade or three over the weekend. He spent hours in a room with all the other GMs at the Bellagio in Las Vegas on Tuesday, then spent eight more hours on the same floor with them at the BB&T Center in South Florida over the weekend. There were calls. There were chats. There were substantive discussions.

But there were no deals, other than shipping third-string goaltender Antti Raanta to the New York Rangers for a prospect.

The knock on Bowman in recent seasons, if you can find a knock on a guy with his name on the Stanley Cup three times, has been that he’s too patient, that he’s almost too timid, too enamored with his own players and too unrealistic in the trade market. That’s what made his bold moves to acquire Antoine Vermette (which paid off) and Kimmo Timonen (which didn’t) at this year’s deadline so remarkable.

In 2013, reluctant to disrupt chemistry and give up prospects, Bowman didn’t make a big splash to bolster the best team in hockey, only picking up the cast-aside Michal Handzus from San Jose. In 2014, with a team short on depth and in need of a boost, all he did was move Brandon Pirri for a draft pick and acquire David Rundblad, And last summer, knowing he needed to move either Johnny Oduya or Nick Leddy to get the Hawks under the cap, he waited all the way until October to do it, sending Leddy to the Islanders for prospects.

Other than the 2014 deadline, the track record’s pretty good. Handzus was a sneaky addition, solidifying the second line and helping the Hawks win the Stanley Cup. The Leddy trade looked underwhelming at the time, but defenseman Ville Pokka and goaltender Anders Nilsson both are at the top of the Hawks’ minor-league depth chart. And Vermette obviously paid off in a big way, with three game-winning goals in the final two rounds of the playoffs.

“Stan takes his time,” a league source said over draft weekend. “For better or worse, he never has a sense of urgency.”

And he still doesn’t. Even with Saad and Kruger in need of new contracts. Even with salary-cap hell staring him in the face. Even with Phil Kessel and T.J. Oshie possibly on the market, too, weakening his leverage with Sharp. Even with Sharp and Bickell each having limited no-trade clauses (Sharp can pick 10 teams he will accept a trade to, Bickell can pick eight teams he won’t accept a trade to).

It could all happen any minute now. Or it could happen Wednesday when free agency opens. Or it could drag on all the way through the summer, and through training camp, and through the preseason, awkward and excruciating as that might become for the guys on the block.

Like it or not, Bowman won’t rush into anything.

But he’s earned the benefit of the doubt.

“Our job is to keep making calls and try to find something that works,” Bowman said. “When it does, we’ll do it.”


Twitter: @marklazerus

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