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Trade Coverage

Busy Blackhawks add key pieces for stretch run

Bowman satisfied with trades, highlighted by Ladd

by Brian Hedger / Correspondent

Bowman on Ladd, additional trades

Stan Bowman on Andrew Ladd, additional trades

Stan Bowman talks to reporters Saturday after making two trades to bolster the Blackhawks’ roster

  • 15:22 •

CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman needed seven words to summarize the state of his team Saturday, as the clock ticked toward the NHL Trade Deadline of Monday at 3 p.m. ET.

Asked how he slept Friday, after making two trades to acquire three veterans a day after re-acquiring forward Andrew Ladd from the Winnipeg Jets, Bowman used some dry humor to start a press conference held before practice.

"I slept a little better last night," he said, drawing laughs from reporters.

It's easy to see why.

After adding Ladd to play left wing on the top line, Bowman addressed additional lineup holes with trades to obtain forwards Tomas Fleischmann and Dale Weise from the Montreal Canadiens, and defenseman Christian Ehrhoff from the Los Angeles Kings.

Including the trade for Ladd, which sent forward prospect Marko Dano and two draft picks to the Jets, the Blackhawks parted with one player on their roster, rookie center Phillip Danault, 23, who was sent to the Canadiens along with a second-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft for Weise and Fleischmann.

Veteran defenseman Rob Scuderi was sent to the Kings for Ehrhoff; each was playing in the American Hockey League.

Video: Stan Bowman on trading for Andrew Ladd

Chicago (38-20-5), second in the Central Division with 81 points, added a combined 43 goals, 90 points and 40 seasons of NHL experience with the four players.

"That was the prime motivation," Bowman said. "Looking at our team, I like what we've done. We've actually had a great season to date. I think there's always things you want to get better at, and when you look at your team, I think the one area we wanted to try and improve was our depth and our players with experience."

The Blackhawks' motto of "One Goal" never changes, because that one goal is to win the Stanley Cup. After adding talent, experience, size and grit through the trade market, Bowman said he feels good about Chicago's potential to defend the Stanley Cup.

"When you look at the task ahead, with the playoff stretch and you've got a lot of games [left], and it's hopefully going to be playing until June, there's a lot of hockey to be played," Bowman said. "You can rely on some veteran players to do that. We're going to need everybody down the stretch, but knowing that we have some veteran pieces that we added [Thursday and Friday], it really makes you feel better."

The Blackhawks' competition might have a different feeling after watching them again add key pieces near the trade deadline. Last year, Bowman acquired center Antoine Vermette from the Arizona Coyotes, considered the top available forward, and defenseman Kimmo Timonen from the Philadelphia Flyers.

This season's deadline moves, headlined by Ladd, are added to a team that already surged to the top of the Western Conference using its core group of top talent, along with inexperienced role players. Bowman tried to downplay any inherent messages sent by the recent moves, but they were received loud and clear.

"He's always been a guy [who] has gone after what he wants," Ladd said of Bowman. "The message is pretty clear that they want to win right now."

Video: Andrew Ladd on adjusting to Chicago

The effort begins against the Washington Capitals at United Center on Sunday (12:30 p.m. ET; NBC, SN). The Capitals' 94 points are the most in the NHL.

Ladd and Fleischmann will play, but Ehrhoff likely will wait to make his Chicago debut. All three practiced Saturday and got accustomed to their teammates. Weise, who needs to get a U.S. work visa approved, hadn't arrived.

"This is a chance to play with the Chicago Blackhawks," Weise said Saturday on a conference call. "You look at their roster, adding Andrew Ladd, adding Tomas Flesichmann, I just think the roster, it looks dangerous right now. For me to get a chance to go play on a Stanley Cup contender and go deep into the playoffs, I think from an individual standpoint is huge for me and is only going to benefit me."

Ladd, who played for Chicago from 2007-10 and helped the Blackhawks win the 2010 Stanley Cup, was at left wing on the top line with captain Jonathan Toews and forward Andrew Shaw during practice. Ladd also worked with the second power-play unit.

After going through a tough season in Winnipeg, mostly the result of too many losses and unsuccessful contract negotiations, Ladd, 30, is ready to put his focus on winning a championship.

"That's the best part about coming [here]," said Ladd, who can become an unrestricted free agent July 1. "You know you're [going to] have a chance to win a Stanley Cup. I enjoyed my time in Winnipeg a lot and [there are] a lot of great people there that I'm going to miss. Anytime you're in the position that we were in there and we were in the bottom of the standings, it's tough to stay at the pace that you need to stay at. Just coming here gives you a boost, a kick of energy. [I'm] just excited to be back in the mix."

Fleischmann, 31, and Ehrhoff, 33, also are looking forward to the remainder of the season. Each has the added motivation of proving his career isn't coming to a close prematurely.

Video: Fleischmann on joining the Blackhawks

Fleischmann started the season strong in Montreal, but has 10 goals and 20 points in 57 games. Ehrhoff had two goals and 10 points in 40 games for the Kings before he was sent to Ontario of the AHL.

"It's a great opportunity," said Fleischmann, who skated at right wing on the third line during practice. "I'm very excited to be here, because it's a team that does very well in [the] playoffs. I've played against them and I know exactly how hard they play in the playoffs, and it's a chance to win the Cup."

Ehrhoff, who played 49 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins last season, limited by injuries, likely will alternate games with veteran Michal Rozsival on the third pair. Ehrhoff skated with rookie Viktor Svedberg on Saturday, but Svedberg was reassigned to Rockford of the AHL hours later.

Bowman hopes a roll of the dice pays off with Ehrhoff, who didn't fit into the Kings' plans, similar to the way Scuderi didn't fit in Chicago after he was acquired in a Dec. 14 trade that sent Trevor Daley to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"Last year, I had a tough second half with my injuries and that put kind of a question mark on me, and then this year the fit wasn't great in L.A.," Ehrhoff said. "The expectation from both sides were different. For me it's a change of scenery, and I hope I can be a good fit here and move forward."

Bowman will track the market until the deadline passes, but said he's most likely done dealing. Looking at what he has accomplished, there might be more good nights of sleep ahead.

"We're just here trying to do what we can to help our team win," said Bowman, the GM for all three of the Blackhawks' championships in the past six seasons. "We've done that every year, and sometimes moves are there to help your team. This year, we clearly had some pieces that we thought would really give us a better chance and we were able to make it happen."

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