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Pre-Draft Q&A: GM Stan Bowman

by Chicago Blackhawks / Chicago Blackhawks
GM Stan Bowman
Although many in Chicago are still celebrating the Blackhawks' historic Stanley Cup run, it's business as usual for GM Stan Bowman and his hockey operations team. With the NHL Entry Draft this weekend, Bowman spoke with local media to discuss the Blackhawks' off-season plans and his objectives going into the draft.

Can you talk a little bit about what you'll be looking for in the upcoming draft?

"I think this year's draft has some good depth. I’ve spent some time recently meeting with our group and we’ll get into it really deep over the next couple of days. It’s an interesting draft. The top end is very good; a couple players are dominant forces, but after that the player picked at 30 might be just as good as the guy picked at 12 or 13. I think there’s a top layer, then that next layer kind of expands. We know that the draft is important to our franchise. If we can pick up another asset, then I think that’s kind of our goal.  We’ve got to continue to have these young players developing and coming into our lineup each season.”

So you consider it a good thing to be picking at the back of each round...

“Yeah, we’ve talked about that internally a lot and normally when you’re picking at the back of the first round you’re not very happy, with the exception of number 30. Being at the very end... we’ll take that spot every round in every year if we can.”

Do you draft by need when you’re that low, or do you take the best available guy?

"When you pick in the first round, you’re still going to get the cream of the crop. When you look back over previous drafts, historically, they tend to be guys that make it to the league. That’s a general statement, but it’s based on percentage. I believe you've got to go with the guy that is the best player. Even if you’ve got strength at that position, you’re still accumulating an asset. I think after that first round -- maybe in the second or third -- then you might start to look at position. We tried to do that last year: at center, we were a little bit light and we tried to draft a lot of centers as the draft went on. In the first round last year, we took the player that we thought was the best and it was a defenseman [Dylan Olsen]. We’ll do the same thing this year. I think we’re not going to be looking to fill holes with the early picks. We’re looking more at choosing a guy that has the best chance to be an impact NHL player.”       

In general terms can you talk about how it’s been going trying to get the Blackhawks’ salary cap situation squared away for next season?

“It’s a work in progress. We’ve been planning this for a long time, really. It’s not something that has surprised us or anything. The good news for us is we are talking here today as Stanley Cup champions. We were going to have to make changes to our team regardless of how the year ended, which makes it much easier considering that we’ve got the Cup and we locked up early the key group that we needed back in December when we signed Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith. I wouldn’t want to be sitting here talking to you guys today trying to get those three guys under contract. That’s the good news out of all of this, and we’re working lots of different angles and we’re looking forward to Friday. Hopefully it will be a great day for the Blackhawks."

You’ve been planning for this off-season for awhile, going back to the Kane, Toews and Keith signing. Did any of the playoff performances of your other players change your plans for this off-season at all?

“No. I think if anything the playoffs would have changed our plans if we hadn’t signed those three players; I think they were probably our best players if you take a step back and look at the performance of our team over the entire playoff run. I think a lot of guys stepped up at different points and we had a consistent level of performance from Kane, Toews and Keith. That was to be expected, and that was the whole reason we focused on those guy when we did: they were dominant players for us during the season, at the Olympics and in the playoffs. I think other guys had good playoffs as well, which helped us. It was a team effort. I don’t think there were any surprises, going back to your question in general."

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