Will all of these moves lead Blackhawks to playoffs? It's certainly possible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Blackhawks' Patrick Kane (88) celebrates with teammate Jonathan Toews after scoring a hat trick during game in December 2019. The longtime Hawks teammates look to be in for more good times ahead with all the recent moves made the team.

    Chicago Blackhawks' Patrick Kane (88) celebrates with teammate Jonathan Toews after scoring a hat trick during game in December 2019. The longtime Hawks teammates look to be in for more good times ahead with all the recent moves made the team.

  • The Blackhawks traded defenseman Nikita Zadorov to Calgary Wednesday in return for a third-round draft pick.

    The Blackhawks traded defenseman Nikita Zadorov to Calgary Wednesday in return for a third-round draft pick. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 7/29/2021 9:00 AM

If Stan Bowman and his regime are in the waning days, weeks and months of their time with the Blackhawks, they certainly aren't going quietly.

After two-plus weeks of franchise-altering explosions, Bowman and Co. made two more significant moves when free agency opened Wednesday by trading defenseman Nikita Zadorov to Calgary and signing D-man Jake McCabe to a four-year, $16 million contract. The Hawks also inked hard-hitting forward Jujhar Khaira to a two-year deal that carries a $975,000 cap hit.

 

Zadorov, who is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights, was sent to Calgary for a third-round draft pick.

The 6-foot-1, 204-pound McCabe is essentially Zadorov's replacement. He's a stay-at-home defenseman who has 18 goals in 353 games, all in Buffalo. McCabe, whose wife is from Downers Grove, only played in 13 games last season after tearing his ACL and MCL in his right knee.

"I got zero concerns," McCabe said in a Zoom call with reporters from Fifth Third Arena. "My rehab's gone very, very well. And the last month on the ice has gone really, really well, too. A lot of guys have had an ACL injury in hockey and have come back even stronger."

Bowman did not speak with the media Wednesday, but his actions have said more than enough since he dealt Duncan Keith to Edmonton July 12.

Likely under fire on two fronts, Bowman is clearly not content to sit back and let the seeds of a rebuild grow slowly. Instead, he's thrown so much fertilizer into the roster you wonder if he isn't choking it for the next general manager -- if indeed that move comes in the wake of the sexual abuse scandal and/or more losing.

On the other hand, it's entirely possible these seeds take immediate root, allowing the Hawks to become a legit playoff team.

Here's how that happens:

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• Newly acquired goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury doesn't retire, comes in and plays lights out -- just as he has for 17 years.

• Whatever injury Patrick Kane was dealing with is 100% healed and he returns better than ever.

• Jonathan Toews returns and is at least 90% the player he was before taking last season off.

• Alex DeBrincat continues his resurgence and scores 40-50 goals.

• Tyler Johnson, Dominik Kubalik and Kirby Dach consistently play as high-level top-six forwards. Don't sleep on Henrik Borgstrom, either. He has plenty to prove after falling out of favor with Joel Quenneville in Florida.

• Seth Jones rebounds from a couple of down years and combines with Connor Murphy to lead a resurgence on the back end.

• McCabe has no issues with his knee and is a solid second-pairing guy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

• Riley Stillman, Wyatt Kalynuk, Caleb Jones, Nicolas Beaudin and Ian Mitchell take the next step and make it difficult for coach Jeremy Colliton to decide who to play on a nightly basis.

Forwards like Dylan Strome, Brandon Hagel, Philipp Kurashev, Adam Gaudette, Alex Nylander and Khaira either bounce back or take the next step in their careers.

As for Calvin de Haan? We'll have to wait and see, but it sounds like he may be on the way out.

That's a lot of "ifs." The first two listed are of utmost importance. If either doesn't pan out, you can forget about the Hawks being a factor in the Central Division.

Johnson, acquired from Tampa Bay Tuesday, believes better days are on the horizon.

"Obviously Chicago's made quite a splash the last couple days." he said. "I know they already had some good veteran players (and there are) some good young players coming up. Now with the other adds that they've got, it's going to be really exciting and I'm glad to be a part of it."

Former Hawks move on

Pius Suter (14G, 13A in 55 games) signed a two-year, $6.5 million deal with Detroit. The Hawks did not qualify Suter, who was a restricted free agent. Meanwhile, David Kampf (1G, 11A in 56 GP) signed a two-year, $3 million deal with Toronto, and Vinnie Hinostroza signed for one-year at $1.05 million with Buffalo.

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