Blackhawks expand pool of picks, prospects as Stan Bowman swings 4 deadline trades
The Hawks traded Mattias Janmark for second- and third-round picks, Carl Soderberg for a prospect, Madison Bowey for a pick upgrade and Matthew Highmore for Adam Gaudette.
The Blackhawks were the NHL’s busiest team on trade-deadline day.
General manager Stan Bowman swung four trades Monday to go with his two trades in the last few weeks, all designed to accumulate as many prospects and draft picks as possible.
‘‘We did what we set out to do,’’ Bowman said. ‘‘It’s really consistent with what we’ve been trying to do going back to the offseason: We’re trying to rebuild our asset pool.’’
Bowman successfully dealt both of his notable pending unrestricted free agents Monday, trading forwards Mattias Janmark to the Golden Knights and Carl Soderberg to the Avalanche.
The Hawks received two draft picks — a second-rounder in 2021 and a third-rounder in 2022 — for Janmark and gave up a fifth-rounder in 2022. The Soderberg trade netted prospect forward Ryder Rolston and minor-leaguer Josh Dickinson.
Bowman also traded twice with the Canucks, swapping bottom-six forwards Matthew Highmore and Adam Gaudette and using defenseman Madison Bowey to upgrade a fifth-round draft pick in 2021 to a fourth-rounder.
Adding in the two earlier trades with the Panthers — in which the Hawks used some depth players and cap space to acquire an intriguing prospect in Henrik Borgstrom,as well as three possibly useful NHL guys — Bowman adeptly improved the team’s future without giving up anything of long-term significance.
‘‘We’re trying to build our team back up,’’ he said. ‘‘We’re taking steps this year by giving young players larger opportunities, and many have really run with it. . . . [And] we’ve brought in some other young players that are not in the league, who are still in juniors or in Europe, but will be trending into the league pretty soon. We want to see how that sorts itself out.’’
Blackhawks trade recap. Very impressive work by Bowman.— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) April 12, 2021
IN: Hinostroza, Borgstrom, Connolly, Stillman, Gaudette, Ryder Rolston, Josh Dickinson
2nd, 3rd, 4th, 7th round picks
OUT: Wallmark, Carlsson, Janmark, Soderberg, Highmore, Bowey, Brad Morrison
Two 5th round picks
Breaking down trades
The Janmark trade was Bowman’s biggest and best move.
Janmark had been a decent producer for the Hawks this season, scoring 19 points in 41 games, but his on-ice shot-attempt ratio was the worst on the team. He never was expected to be with the Hawks more than briefly.
His value seemed roughly equivalent to a third-round pick entering the day, so to receive second- and third-rounders was impressive.
‘‘Mattias has had a very good year for us, so there were a number of teams that were calling on him,’’ Bowman said. ‘‘Ultimately, we found the best deal with Vegas.’’
Gaudette is the one asset the Hawks added whom fans will see this season. The Hawks view him as the superior player in the like-for-like exchange. He’s one year younger than Highmore, has played in 47 more NHL games and has much more offensive upside.
Gaudette, 24, had 33 points for the Canucks last season, and his struggles this season made him an appealing buy-low candidate. The Hawks also like that he’s a right-handed center. All of their other centers besides Kirby Dach are left-handed.
‘‘We certainly see the potential in what he brings to the table,’’ Bowman said. ‘‘He had a really good year last year. We’re trying to recapture some of that.’’
A serious COVID-19 case disrupted Gaudette’s season, but he’s now healthy and should be ‘‘all systems go’’ upon arrival, Bowman said. He will be a restricted free agent this summer, but the Hawks likely will re-sign him.
Rolston, meanwhile, is a project prospect. Drafted in the fifth round by the Avs last year, he just finished his freshman year at Notre Dame, where the Hawks saw him often while scouting prospect Landon Slaggert.
The son of longtime NHL forward Brian Rolston, he scored only six points in 28 games this season but has raw attributes — especially speed — that fit the NHL prototype.
‘‘When you go to watch Notre Dame play, you’ll notice him,’’ Bowman said. ‘‘He’s a pretty good-sized kid who really can skate. As far as putting the whole game together . . . there’s more there.’’
‘Strange’ NHL market
The Hawks were part of four of the mere 17 trades — the fewest since 2013 — processed around the league Monday. The flat salary cap and relative lack of playoff ‘‘bubble’’ teams this year reduced the urgency and activity.
Most interesting was that returns didn’t seem to match up from one trade to the next.
The Sabres moved forward Taylor Hall to the Bruins on Sunday for the underwhelming return of a second-round pick and forward Anders Bjork. Yet the Red Wings made a late splash Monday by dealing forward Anthony Mantha to the Capitals for a package that included forwards Jakub Vrana, Richard Panik and first- and second-round picks.
‘‘It was a little strange in the sense that some deals didn’t match others,’’ Bowman said. ‘‘And that’s because the teams in [contending] situations were really focused on one or two players.’’
Bowman didn’t take on another team’s bad contract (beyond Brett Connolly) for a sweetener, although that still might happen this summer. He also didn’t trade defenseman Nikita Zadorov, whose reported availability created some buzz.
In keeping Zadorov and trading Bowey, who was signed in January largely for expansion-draft insurance, Bowman signaled the Hawks almost certainly will leave defenseman Calvin de Haan exposed to the Seattle Kraken this summer.
Bowman sees more maneuvering ahead, but he is pleased by the progress the Hawks have made during the last year.
‘‘We have more NHL players today than we did eight months ago,’’ he said. ‘‘Some players here now might not be here as we move forward, if we can turn them into something even better or turn them into something we don’t have enough of. This process is ongoing. We’re not moving onto a different stage of our team [evolution], but I like the direction we’re headed.’’