The Blackhawks will be gone in the first round once again next Spring

Parise and Suter are gone.

The Blackhawks- a middle-of-the-pack playoff team at best, despite the delusions of General Manager Stan Bowman- are probably out of luck in their efforts to fill their two most glaring weaknesses- the lack of a natural second-line center and at least one more top four defenseman- through the free agent market. The trade route seems unlikely in the extreme. It’s a given that the Hawks’ inadequate goaltending will go unaddressed.

In fairness, Stan Bowman seemed to make a genuine effort here. Still my prediction is that the Hawks will be eliminated in the first round of the playoffs again next year. If they get to the second round, they should hold a parade.

In the meantime, Bowman needs to publicly acknowledge reality. It does not help the confidence of the fan base that the Hawks’ very substantial weaknesses will be addressed if the team’s general manager remains in public denial.

Hawks GM is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma

So what’s the deal with Stan Bowman?

On one hand, he had a decent draft, and apparently made a move this week to bring elite goalie Roberto Luongo from Vancouver to the UC. Luongo refused to waive the no-trade clause in his contract because he wants to play in a small market.

But on the other hand, he can make absurd statements like this:

We don’t have to make moves. We can kind of be selective in doing things to improve our team going forward. It’s hard to say at this point if our team is going to be the same as it stands right now.

It’s hard so say what to think of Stan Bowman at this point. Is he the totally clueless clown who really think the Hawks are just a tweak or two away from being a Stanley Cup caliber team again? Or does he have the brains to do what it’s going to actually take to get us back there?

One thing is sure: if the Hawks don’t at least to the second round of the playoffs next spring, Stan Bowman needs to be looking for a new job- or an awful lot of the Hawks fans who came out of hibernation when Dollar Bill died and Rocky Wirtz took over are going to be snoozing again.

A very Bowman draft for the Blackhawks

Malcom Subban went to the Bruins, who don’t really need him.

The Blackhawks- who really, really did- instead chose a seventeen year-old left wing from Finland, Teuvo Teravainen, who was expected to go much higher in the draft and who has been compared to Patrick Kane (but hopefully with more maturity). Teravainen can also play center, a crying need for the Hawks.

Not a bad choice at all. I can really understand grabbing a talent like Teravainen who somehow was still available even at the risk of losing Subban. I wouldn’t have done it, but that doesn’t mean there’s not an upside.

Chicago also selected defenseman Dillon Fornier in the second round. Another decent pick, but only decent. And the goalie the Hawks finally selected- in the seventh round- was Matt Tompkins, who was rated tenth among North American goalies in the draft and whose numbers are not particularly encouraging. Another merely decemt prospect without much upside, a commodity with which the Hawks’ system is well-stocked.

Meanwhile, we’re still stuck with Corey Crawford between the pipes, and no relief in sight.

All in all, Bowman- the clueless wonder who think that the Hawks, at best a middle-of-the-pack playoff team, only need “a few tweaks” to win another Stanley Cup- did better than I feared, though not nearly as well as I’d hoped. I guess we’ll have to look to free agency and trades to provide those “tweaks,” which will need to include decent goaltending, greatly improved team toughness (including an ability to dominate the shooting lanes the Hawks lost when they lost Dustin Byfuglien), at least one more strong defenseman (and preferably two), another solid center, and vastly improved special teams.

Maybe this draft will provide a few of those answers- a few years down the line. And don’t get me wrong; Teravainen and Fornier, at least, were decent picks. But this is an organization notorious for having unbelievable depth in throughly mediocre hockey players, while lacking stars anywhere but on the parent club. The Hawks’ two top picks may well prove to be anything but mediocre, but somehow I have my doubts about Tompkins as the goalie of the future.

And I still have grave doubts as to Stan Bowman’s fitness as general manager. He has a long way to go to prove to me that he hasn’t been possessed by the spirit of Bob Pulford.

ADDENDUM: Here is another take on what to expect from Teravainen. However disgruntled I am by Bowman’s failure to address the Hawks’ netminding woes, it should be said that adding a Claude Giroux or a Martin St. Louis to the team isn’t a bad days work all by itself.

Or even another Patrick Kane.

ADDENDUM II: Oops, I missed one- and it’s a major mistake.

The Hawks drafted two goalies in the seventh round. The other one is Brandon Whitney- the number two rated North American goalie, right behind Subban.

That changes things a bit. I’m not sure I want to criticize Bowman to much for passing on Subban and coming up with both Teravainen and Whitney, even though the drop in talent from Subban to Whitney is rather steep, if the scouting reports are right.

This could turn out to be a decent draft for the Hawks after all. But one thing remains certain: Bowman is on the bubble.

If he doesn’t make some major moves to correct the Hawks’ glaring weaknesses- weaknesses he thus far as declined to acknowledge- over the off season, and we get bounced from the playoffs in the first round for the third straight year, he has to go.

There is no excuse possible for not addressing problems as plain as the four feathers on the Chief’s head.

The Kings make the Blackhawks look bad

Steve Rosenbloom of the Trib nails it: the longer the Kings hang around in the Stanley Cup playoffs, the worse the Blackhawks look- and the more depressing it becomes that GM Stan Bowman apparently doesn’t have a clue.

The Kings are everything the present edition of the Hawks stopped being when they had to take that salary cap hit after winning the Cup two years ago: proficient on special teams, large and physically dominating, defensively competent, and possessed of above-average goaltending. But after two years of finishing back in the divisional pack and then being eliminated in the first round, Bowman apparently hasn’t had it sink in yet that the problem with the Hawks isn’t that they underachieve.

It’s that ever since the championship, they’ve lacked the talent to be a geniune Stanley Cup contender. Moreover, they’ve lacked it at easily identifiable places which somehow don’t seem to appear on the Bowman radar screen.

Here, meanwhile, are ten free agents we should target. Wanna bet on how many Bowman will land?