The Blackhawks finally added another depth defenseman to their system Thursday, signing former Capitals and Red Wings defenseman Madison Bowey.
Bowey’s two-year contract is two-way for this season — and he was on waivers Thursday, so he likely will be assigned to the taxi squad or the American Hockey League on Friday — but becomes one-way next season. It carries a manageable $725,000 cap hit.
Bowey, 25, is rather experienced, however. He has appeared in 154 NHL games, compared with only 10 AHL games, in the last three seasons.
The 6-2, 202-pounder had three goals and 14 assists in 53 games for the Red Wings last season, but he also had an ugly 42.6% on-ice scoring-chance ratio (although that was fairly typical for the Red Wings).
He was a second-round draft pick by the Capitals in 2013 and once was considered a decent prospect.
It has seemed plausible for a while that the Hawks would bolster their organizational defensive depth. They entered Thursday with only 13 defensemen under NHL contract, and two of them (Brent Seabrook with a back injury and Adam Boqvist with COVID-19) are out. Plus, only three (Connor Murphy, Ian Mitchell and Alec Regula) of the 11 active ones are right-handed shots, as Bowey is.
The Rockford IceHogs opened their training camp this week with only eight defensemen, and only three of them are on NHL contracts.
But the biggest benefit derived from signing Bowey — and the obvious reason his contract is for two years — is the upcoming Seattle Kraken expansion draft.
Every team, including the Hawks, will be required to expose at least one experienced defenseman. Bowey will meet the experience parameters after one more NHL game, according to CapFriendly. He would be a no-brainer for exposure.
Murphy is the only other Hawks defenseman eligible for exposure who currently meets the parameters. Nikita Zadorov would meet them once he is re-signed for next season, and Calvin de Haan would meet them if he plays in 32 of the Hawks’ remaining 48 games. But the Hawks well might want to protect all three of those guys or look to deal one or two of them for future assets before the trade deadline April 12.