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BLOG: Bowman Assesses 2019-20 Campaign, Offseason Ahead

Key points from SVP/GM Stan Bowman's media availability following Chicago's postseason exit

by Carter Baum @CarterBaum / Blackhawks.com

Just days after the 2019-20 season officially came to a close, Blackhawks' Senior Vice President/General Manager Stan Bowman spoke with members of the media on Friday to assess his team's postseason, individual performances and looking ahead to building the 2020-21 roster.

Here are some of the highlights:


On the team coming together in Edmonton with the mix of young and experienced players...

I think it was a great experience. Certainly it stings when you don't advance and your season's over, but when you look at the totality of it, a lot of positives came out of that.

Just seeing the progression of Kirby, in particular, he almost looks like a different player from when the season paused back in March. He was coming on (before the pause), his minutes were improving and he was playing a bigger role and then we took a few months off. Watching the way that he seized the moment was really impressive. 

I really thought that the team did a very good job of continuing to fight through the adversity that we faced. Even in the (Qualifying Round), it wasn't easy. We fell behind in a lot of those games, but we stuck with it and for a young group, I thought that was really impressive to see the competitiveness, the battle level to just keep coming. 

We played a strong opponent in Vegas and, once again, other than a game or two, we were always kind of chasing it. But I felt like we did a really good job or staying in the moment and competing to get ourselves back in games. That experience is going to pay off for us down the road. You have to understand what it takes to play against those top teams and do well against them. We didn't win the series, but I thought that we really were in every game. Even the first game, which was the biggest margin of defeat, I thought we played pretty well that game. The other games were all one-goal games. I think it shows that we did some good things and we've got to build on that. Not enough of good things or we'd still be playing, but you have to recognize the accomplishments we did make and try to build on those. 


On evaluating Dylan Strome's season... 

Dylan missed some time (due to injury). We moved him around a little bit (during the season). I think he probably played better in the middle (at center) for us. It's his natural position. We had him on the wing to try some different things out.

No question he's got the offensive skill set. He's a very creative player, very good passer, makes a lot of plays and I think he's shown progress I thought his faceoffs improved. He was pretty good in Edmonton on the draws, which is something that he wasn't as good during the season. I saw some improvement there. He wants to get better. He's got a good attitude. He wants to learn. He's still getting his feet under him in the NHL. It was really his first full season this year, but he missed some time.

I think for him, it's just becoming a full two-way player. I think he's got the offensive game down with his creativity, his passing and he's shown a willingness to try to get better. I liked his attitude and I think there's more for him there. 

Video: Bowman on roster building


On promising stretches from Adam Boqvist and Alex Nylander during the season, perhaps a step back during the playoffs and any concerns about them going forward... 

Like young players, they do have some ups and downs. Not just those two, I think there's some other players that probably fall in that same category.

What you're trying to see with players is the ability to bounce back if they have any kind of set back. It's not always a straight line, forward progression, as much as we would like it to be. There's nothing like that experience of what it was like in Edmonton in the bubble, to see what those games are like. I think both players had their moments when they played really well during the season and even leading up to Edmonton. They had flashes there where they were effective and areas where they need to get better.

I don't know if I would single them as the only two that applies to. I think for our young group in general, we're hoping they can take the next step, which is to bring consistency. When when you look at both of those players, Adam and Alex, when they are at their best, they're effective, helpful players and the goal for us is to try to get them there more often. Part of that is on us as coaches and management, but part of it's on them as well to take the next step. That's what we need from them -- not just those two but other young players. We need them to learn from this but come back and be better because of it. 


On benefit of having Interim President Danny Wirtz in the bubble with the team and getting to know him... 

It was great to have Danny in the bubble. I hadn't had that much time to spend with him leading up to it. I had a lot of Zoom calls over the last 4-5 months with Danny, but to actually spend over three weeks, every day, multiple hours per day with him, it was great for me. I really learned a lot. You (are able to) pull back the curtain a little bit on some of the day-to-day things and you get to see what's behind some of the decisions and how things play out. Just in talking to Danny, I think he found that very helpful.

We had a number of conversations on a wide variety of topics. I think we touched on almost everything. We're going to have more, it wasn't like that was the end of it and we're not going to continue to build on it. We had a great time together and I plan more of that as we go forward here. (There were) philosophical discussions for sure, but I think it was a lot of other tactical-type things as well and detailed conversations. It was a mixture, it wasn't just high-level stuff. We talked a little about everything. 


On challenge of flat cap, having space to re-sign guys and having cap space to work with during the season next year...

We do have some decisions to make. I think there's a group of teams that are in the same boat and the flat cap is a challenge. At the same time, I think we have some ideas on what we're going to to. That process is just starting right now. I've had a couple meetings since we finished the season and we're going to have more over the coming weeks to map out how that's going to play out.

It's a reality of our game that this is where we're at as a sport and we'll make it work. That's our job, to figure out how we can have some flexibility. That's going to be part of it, as well as making sure that we can keep the players we need to keep. It's a balancing act and it's something that we've put a lot of thought into already and we're going to keep working through in the coming weeks.

Video: Bowman on cap flexibility


On the goalie situation for next year with Corey Crawford's contract expiring... 

I don't have any announcements to make on what we're going to do. We have an idea of what we want to do. Now we're going to talk to the agents and see where that goes. There's no question that Corey played excellent for us. Certainly as the tournament got going and he got more up to speed, I thought he got better as it went along. He came in in a tough situation. He hadn't really practiced much coming off his sickness and full credit for him to be able to get up to speed that quickly.

We do have some decisions to make right there. I don't have much to share at this point. It's been a day since the season ended (and we got back). That's something we're going to have to get to probably in the next couple weeks here. There's a lot of work on our plate and that's a top priority to figure out, how we're going to get our goaltending situated for next year. 


On Seabrook's future and role with the team...

He's on our team ... His role on the team is something that will be figured out in training camp as opposed to now.

It was a valiant effort for him to come back from his rehab and try to make it so that he could help our team in Edmonton. Really, there wasn't a lot of time for him to (do so). He had been off the ice for a long time. I think now, by the time we get to training camp, whether it's in November or whenever it is, we'll have a better feel for what his role on the team would be moving forward, what spot he's going to play. I know he has high hopes for himself and he's put a lot of work in on the rehab front to get back to being an impact player and that would be great if that's the way it plays out.

There's no question his value to our team as part of the leadership group. Also his influence on younger players, I think he had a positive impact for this season with Kirby staying with him. There's no question he's a big part of what we do. I think at this point, the next part is just to see how his health is and how our team looks in training camp and then we can speak more about his actual role in the lineup. 


On young, talented prospects coming up and decisions with trades or moves to accommodate them... 

We might make trades. I don't know if it's just to fit a guy in, I think it's trying to build our team or plan out how our team's going to look in the coming years. We're going to explore those ideas. 


On if contract buyouts are an option this offseason to make cap and/or roster room... 

It's always been a possibility. I don't know if this year's any different than past years. I think what you do is look at what you want to accomplish, how you want to build your team, the cap constraints and then you come to the decision, which could involve (them) or it could not. We haven't made those determinations yet on which way we're going to go and how we're going to be re-shaping our team. I would say it's not different than previous years and we're going to go through the same process we normally would to try to make changes to put us in a good position for next year. 

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