Stan Bowman's phone was ringing at the United Center on Monday ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline, and the Blackhawks Senior Vice President/General Manager was answering, even making some exploratory outbound calls of his own.
In the end, with a flurry of activity taking place around the league, Bowman made the decision to stick with the current process and wait out what turned out to be a quiet deadline day in Chicago.
Video: Stan Bowman trade deadline part 1
"A couple things were kind of on the borderline of happening," Bowman said shortly following the 2 p.m. CT deadline. "But, at the end of the day, we weren't determined to make a trade just to make [the media] happy. It had to make sense for where we're at, also short term and long term, and nothing came together today."
On Sunday evening, the Blackhawks swapped minor-league players with Los Angeles. On Monday, they activated Corey Crawford off injured reserve and re-assigned Collin Delia to Rockford. They also executed a paper transaction, assigning then recalling Dylan Sikura to and from the AHL. That was the extent of the Blackhawks deadline activity.
It's not as flashy or as exciting as going for broke and spending big assets on top-end rental players, but Chicago's current roster has done wonders to turn around their season and give themselves a chance at the playoffs, so temporary or quick fixes were not the target.
Video: Stan Bowman trade deadline part 2
"We were never in that rental market where we were going to be trying to chase players that were expiring contracts," Bowman said. "We were always looking at potential real trades where you were filling one need by trading an area where maybe you had a surplus. We had a lot of talks, it just didn't come together."
Given the market and what was available, the Blackhawks didn't rush to pull the trigger on any moves.
"If we were going to make a trade it'd have to be something that wasn't trading away a lot of assets for a guy that's only going to be here for a couple of months. That didn't make sense," Bowman reiterated. "As far as other trades where sometimes you have a surplus of one position or you have another team looking for a certain thing and you can swap out, we had some talks like that but it just didn't materialize."
The types of trades the Blackhawks were interested in were more akin to the ones they've already executed since the puck dropped on the 2018-19 season. Take the Nick Schmaltz to Arizona for Dylan Strome and Brendan Perlini deal for example. Or moving Brandon Manning to Edmonton for Drake Caggiula.
Stack up the last handful of trades the club has made since October began and you can see the outline of a plan in place. The top six is retooled and thriving, the team's cap situation has improved and they've added useful players with term left on their contracts.
Video: Stan Bowman trade deadline part 3
"Reshaping your team doesn't happen overnight," said Bowman. "I think it's a process. It's not one or two moves. I think the process has begun already with some of the trades that we've made."
And there are signs of growth with this current group. Chicago has gone 10-4-0 since Jan. 20.
"If you look back at where we were four months ago to the team we have now, I think some things have changed for the better," said Bowman. "We've really got two pretty reliable, consistent offensive lines. Some of the guys on those, Caggiula wasn't here and he's been a nice addition and same with Strome. Those moves have already happened and we're probably going to look at reshaping our team through potential trades between now and next season, as well as free agency. Those are the two ways, as well as players graduating from junior to the American League or American League to the NHL."
No, Bowman and the Blackhawks didn't add or subtract anything at the deadline. But they enter this final stretch with a chance to make the playoffs and a plan, cap space and assets in place to make more tweaks and improvements this offseason.
"The goal is to keep progressing year to year," he said. "So, a year from now we want to be in a better spot than we are now. Where that is in the standings, we're not trying to map it out that precisely other than to say we want to be in a better spot than we are today. Same thing the year after that. We're headed in the right direction for sure. The timing of when that all happens, there's a lot of factors. It's hard to predict it, but we want to be a team that's in a better spot a year from now than we are now."