Draft and trades on Hawks' platter
(MCT) — Activity at the Blackhawks' table during last year's NHL entry draft was frenzied as general manager Stan Bowman was wheeling, dealing and making selections.
It was at the 2011 draft in Minnesota when Bowman traded Brian Campbell and Troy Brouwer to clear cap space and added 11 prospects to the fold — including two first-rounders.
Now as the NHL turns its attention to this year's draft beginning Friday at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, the Hawks are in a position to pick their spots after Bowman spent much of the spring locking players into the organization. Since the Coyotes eliminated them from the postseason in the first round, Bowman has re-signed Jamal Mayers, Johnny Oduya, Brandon Bollig, Ben Smith and several others to fill the roster.
"We're a little bit ahead of it compared to previous years," Bowman said Tuesday. "We have a lot of these guys taken care of before we hit July. There are a lot of teams looking to find players so I think it's kind of dealing from a position of strength if we choose to make moves.
"Some teams have six, seven holes they need to fill and they probably have a different task with a lot of uncertainty but for the most part we know what our roster is going to be with some minor tweaks here and there."
That doesn't mean the Hawks will be content just to make their eight selections — including at No. 18 in the first round — without at least considering significant moves to improve a team that hasn't made it to the second round of the playoffs since winning the Stanley Cup in 2010.
"If there are deals to be made we're not hesitant to do that," Bowman said. "It would have to be the right fit. … We're always trying to improve our team and sometimes that's just keeping your picks. Sometimes it's making moves, whether it's trading picks or players."
If Bowman does stand pat, the GM believes he can find enough gems in what many consider a weak draft class to continue to stockpile talent in the minor league system.
"There are obviously players we're very high on," he said. "… We've done our work and we've prepared ourselves so we're optimistic heading into the draft."
Bowman on Tuesday also gave updates on the health of several players, including Marian Hossa, who suffered a severe concussion during Game 3 against the Coyotes when Raffi Torres checked him illegally.
"Marian continues to improve," Bowman said. "Same thing with Steve Montador (concussion). They're both starting their summer training programs. It's not something anyone can guarantee how people will progress but I'm very optimistic in the way they're both feeling. I suppose that can change but most likely it's going to be full steam ahead."
Two other players — forwards Daniel Carcillo and Ben Smith — also are recovering from injuries. Carcillo had surgery Jan. 17 to reconstruct his anterior cruciate ligament and Bowman said the veteran is skating.
"(Carcillo) is close to 100 percent," Bowman said. "He would certainly be ready to roll even if training camp were to start in a week or two."
Smith missed the tail end of the season with the Hawks and AHL Rockford after suffering a hernia and a cartilage tear in his hip.
"He probably has another few weeks before he would be ready to start a training camp but by September he's going to be certainly 100 percent," Bowman said.