PHILADELPHIA — It was just in March when the Blackhawks thought enough of Brandon Bollig to sign the bruising winger to a three-year, $3.75 million contract extension.
On Saturday, the Hawks traded Bollig to the Flames for a third-round selection in the 2014 NHL draft.
So, what happened?
“Things change all the time,” Hawks general manager Stan Bowman said after the draft at the Wells Fargo Center. “It’s a puzzle to try to make all the numbers work. That’s clearly the biggest factor when you have the salary cap being what it is. You’re going to have some tough decisions.”
The most significant change occurred when the NHL announced Friday that the upper limit of the salary cap would be $69 million for the 2014-15 season, which put the Hawks nearly $500,000 above. That meant somebody — at this point only one somebody — would have to be dealt. That turned out to be Bollig, who was a regular on the Hawks’ fourth line and finished with seven goals and seven assists and a team-leading 92 penalty minutes. The move cleared Bollig’s cap hit of $1.25 million per season off the books.
“It definitely came as a shock,” Bollig told the Calgary Sun. “My time in Chicago was amazing and I’m going to miss all those guys, but I’m excited to bring my game up there.”
Said Bowman, who was engaged in trade talks throughout the draft: “It’s always tough when you trade a player who has been … a regular player for you. But … we have to look at doing some things like that to prepare for next year.”
Mission accomplished: The Hawks made nine selections during the draft and came away with two centers, including first-round pick (20th overall) Nick Schmaltz. In addition, the organization drafted two right wingers, two left wingers, two defensemen and a goaltender.
“As a whole, on the depth chart we filled a lot of things,” said Mark Kelley, the Hawks’ director of amateur scouting. “But Schmaltz to start things off (Friday night) was huge for us. We look at his skill set to be right around the top of the draft.”
Jeremy spoken: Bowman said winger Jeremy Morin, who signed a two-year contract extension Friday after spending the last couple of seasons trying to secure a spot on the roster, would be with the Hawks next season.
“Jeremy has been patient with us,” Bowman said. “I know sometimes it’s tough to spend a couple of years in the minors when you’re an NHL-ready player. Give him credit, he really has done everything we’ve asked him to. The only thing that missing was an opportunity. Now, we’re giving him that opportunity. He’s going to be on the team.”
Teuvo talk: Coach Joel Quenneville is looking forward to seeing the progress ‘13 top pick Teuvo Teravainen will make over the summer.
“It’s probably a good summer for him,” Quenneville said. “He had a busy year and the transition and adaptation to the next level coming overseas (from Finland) and this … North American game is going to be a change for him.
“I’m sure he’s going to grow (and) he’s going to get stronger. I’m looking forward to seeing how he plays in camp. I expect some progress. We liked what we saw last year at the beginning of the year. He’s going to make the decision for us with exactly where he’s going to fit and where we’re going to play him.”
Tough stuff: With Bollig not on the roster, the role as the Hawks’ so-called enforcer is open. Though that role has diminished significantly in recent seasons, there remains a need for some toughness and Bowman believes an under-the-radar trade with the Rangers last season could provide the answer.
“We were fortunate (when) we traded Kyle Beach for Brandon Mishinter. He came into Rockford and played really well for us, to the point where we re-signed him during the season to a two-year deal. We’re certainly going to give him every opportunity to show what he can do.”
Mashinter had 14 goals, 14 assists and 79 penalty minutes in 47 games with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs last season.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun