Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has had a very busy offseason and we aren’t even sure if he is done making moves yet. In addition to trying to improve the team’s defense, Bowman has made plenty of moves to add to the depth up front as well.
The Blackhawks were a top-heavy team last season, with much of their scoring coming from the first two lines. The team is looking for more contributions from the bottom six and Anton Wedin and John Quenneville will be contenders for a spot on the opening night roster.
Wedin Added to the Mix
On May 11, Bowman inked Swedish forward Wedin to a one-year contract worth $925,000. Wedin, 26, is a southpaw shooter who has played on both the left and right-wing during his career.
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Last season, he led Timra IK in Sweden’s top division with 14 goals and was third in scoring with 27 points in 32 games. Wedin has 18 goals and 32 points in 83 career SHL games. He has also played in 204 games in the Allsvenskan, Sweden’s equivalent to the American Hockey League, where he scored 28 goals and 78 points.
According to Johan Svensson of Kvalls Posten, the Arizona Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche and Toronto Maple Leafs were also interested in bringing in Wedin before he signed with the Blackhawks. Head coach Jeremy Colliton should be familiar with Wedin as he coached against him for two seasons during his time in Sweden.
The 5-foot-11, 194-pound winger is known for his speed and 200-foot game. While he is not going to be an All-Star, by any means, he could become a good fit on the bottom six.
“There are a lot of things to like about Wedin’s game on the ice,” Tony Carr of Dobber Prospects said. “He is an above-average skater, which has turned into an organizational must in the past few years. He brings a high level of compete to the rink every night and plays a very smart, if not overly flashy, game. Don’t look for highlight-reel plays from him. You’ll most likely find him set up in the right position on the ice, both offensively and defensively. The Blackhawks have a bunch of hungry players vying for a role in their bottom six which makes it far from a guarantee he will start the season in the NHL but given the fact he is only signed for one season; you can bet he will see action at some point.”
Quenneville Looks to Finally Live Up to Potential
We have all heard the old adage that sometimes all a player needs to succeed is a “change of scenery.” Bowman loves acquiring these types of players. We have seen it with guys like Tomas Jurco, Anthony Duclair, Dylan Strome and Alexander Nylander (more on him in a later post) with varying degrees of success.
On June 22, the Blackhawks and New Jersey Devils swapped a pair of players that fit this description when Quenneville was sent to Chicago in exchange for John Hayden. Both players have shown flashes of being decent NHL players, but neither has found consistency in their games yet.
Before you ask, yes John is related to former Blackhawks head coach Joel; they are second cousins. Quenneville is also the nephew, by marriage, of New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk.
Quenneville was originally a first-round draft pick (30th overall) by the Devils in 2014. He has two goals and three assists in 33 NHL games. Since being drafted, Quenneville has spent most of his time in the AHL where he has 46 goals and 119 points in 138 games. He scored a career-high 18 goals for the Binghamton Devils last season, while also playing in 19 games for New Jersey.
Prior to going pro, Quenneville spent four seasons playing for the Brandon Wheat Kings in the Western Hockey League where he put up 81 goals and 197 points in 222 games.
Quenneville inked a new two-year deal, worth $750,00 per season, a few days after being acquired by the Blackhawks. It is a two-way contract for the upcoming season and turns into a one-way deal for the 2020-21 season. He is no longer waiver exempt, so he would have to be cleared in order to be sent down to Rockford.
While he will likely never live up to the billing of being a first-round draft pick, Quenneville has shown the potential to be a solid depth player. He is responsible in his own zone and has been productive offensively at the AHL level. He just needs to find a way to get on the scoring sheet more often in the NHL.
One of the knocks on Quenneville has been his off-ice activities and his dedication to the game.
“He needs to get in shape,” Devils assistant general manager Tom Fitzgerald said. “He needs to take pride in his off-ice conditioning, his diet, his nutrition. He needs to be able to maintain a cardio level that is conducive to playing consistently in the National Hockey League.”
from “Devils Future Watch,” The AthleticNHL – 5/7/18
That quote does not exactly inspire optimism, but hopefully, Quenneville picks up a thing or two from Jonathan Toews in this regard.
Both Wedin and Quenneville will get a long look during training camp and the preseason to make the team. In a perfect world, both players contribute to the bottom six by adding some secondary scoring and solid defense. However, do not be surprised to see them spend time with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs as well, which isn’t terrible considering all the offensive woes they had last season.