When the dust settles after the NHL draft this weekend in Philadelphia, there will be new players in the Blackhawks organization.
Whether they are limited to the prospects the organization drafts — the Hawks currently hold eight selections, including No. 27 in Friday's first round — or veterans acquired via trades remains to be seen.
General manager Stan Bowman will be the man at the draft table addressing both the Hawks' long-term future and solidifying the roster for the 2014-15 season.
"There's really a dual purpose," Bowman said Thursday from Philadelphia, where the entry draft will be held Friday and Saturday. "Our amateur staff is exclusively focused on getting prepared for (Friday). ... But the other side is, this is when there is a lot of movement, so there are a lot of phone calls made to other general managers and agents. In terms of a percentage, I don't know if it's 50-50, but it's pretty close to that. You're multitasking. I've been very busy the last few days trying to prepare on both fronts."
In addition to juggling draft picks and potential trades, Bowman is also in the negotiating process with several current Hawks, including Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, on contract extensions. TSN reported Thursday that the agent for the standout young forwards could be asking for deals that average up to $12 million per season — the most expensive in league history.
"I'm not going to be getting into any of the specifics of ongoing negotiations that I have with our players," Bowman said.
The GM also declined to comment on trade rumors involving Patrick Sharp, which were vehemently shot down by the veteran winger's agent Wednesday.
"I've never commented on rumors and I'm not going to start today," Bowman said. "I just don't think it's a helpful process for anybody."
Bowman did, however, admit that he has had plenty of discussion with other GMs regarding trades, and in the past he has used the draft as a time to either overhaul or tweak the Hawks' roster. Last year in Newark, N.J., Dave Bolland was traded to the Maple Leafs less than a week after scoring the winning goal to give the Hawks the Stanley Cup, and Michael Frolik was dealt to the Jets. Those moves paved the way for Bowman to re-sign Bryan Bickell to a long-term contract.
"It's a busy time every year," Bowman said. "Earlier in the week, I made a bunch of calls just to sort of figure out what other teams were looking at, and that usually leads to follow-up conversations."
One Bowman target is apparently Canucks center Ryan Kesler, who would seem to be a perfect fit as the No. 2 center the Hawks have needed. Kesler's camp continues to work hard on a trade, and the Hawks remain on the veteran's short list of teams to which he'd go.
"There are a lot of things being tossed out there — options, most of which won't come true," Bowman added. "You sort of need to do your homework and be prepared so that you're in the know when things do start to break. There is a lot of fielding calls."
Included in those talks is the possibility the Hawks may alter their draft order.
"It's certainly possible we might get additional picks or we might package picks together and move around," Bowman said. "We've had a lot of discussions on those possibilities."
For now, however, the Hawks are scheduled to pick 27th on Friday night and hold seven more selections when the draft continues with Rounds 2-7 on Saturday.
"We're not expecting that impact player coming in to play on our team next year, but I think if we do our job correctly we're going to be able to find players throughout the draft," Bowman said. "We're picking late in the first, and I'm sure there will be some players we like there. There's value to be found if you do your job properly."
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