Photo Credit: Abbotsford Canucks
*This was originally posted March 4, 2022*
Almost nine years after Madison Bowey was selected 53rd overall in the 2013 NHL entry draft, the right shot defenceman finds himself in the American Hockey League playing for the fourth NHL organization of his career. Things have not gone as they were supposed to for the former Kelowna Rockets captain, but his recent play with the Abbotsford Canucks along with his latest call up to the NHL show that his dedication to the game is not going unnoticed.
After a dominant WHL career with the Rockets, where he still ranks as the third highest scoring defenceman in the organization’s history, Bowey turned pro at age 20 with the Hershey Bears, the AHL affiliate of the team that drafted him, the Washington Capitals. Despite battling through injuries his first two season in Hershey, Bowey proved to be a promising NHL prospect by averaging 0.41 PPG. He earned himself a spot on the Capitals the following season as the team’s sixth defenceman, and played in 52 games before Michal Kempný was acquired at the trade deadline, forcing Bowey out of the lineup. Though he watched from the press box, Bowey still has his name engraved on the Stanley Cup, as the Capitals went on to win the franchise’s first championship that season.
The following season Bowey came prepared to take on a larger role with Washington, but again found himself playing minimal bottom six minutes. Consequently, Bowey was involved in a trade to Detroit days before the 2019 trade deadline, and looked forward to increased responsibility with the Red Wings. In 70 games over two seasons in Motor City, Bowey had 21 points, good enough for second on his team in defensive scoring. He presented a good case as to why he could still become a reliable NHL defender, showing at times the excellent puck movement and mobility he routinely displayed in junior. However, due to a plethora of available defenceman in free agency and uncertainty regarding his future role within the organization, Bowey was not tendered a qualifying offer with the passing of the season, making him a UFA for the first time.
Bowey missed two weeks of this past season as he surveyed his options, but ultimately signed a two-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks. Between the taxi-squad and the AHL, Bowey played just four games last season, none coming with the Canucks organization despite being acquired by Jim Benning at the trade deadline last minute. Due to extended quarantine following the deal, and being unable to win over Travis Green, Bowey would have to wait until this season to make his British Columbia debut.
After a difficult season with Chicago, the Winnipeg native has been more than happy to be playing big minutes in Abbotsford. Although his 33 AHL games played this season marks his most since his sophomore season with Hershey, Bowey is steadily regaining the confidence he once held. At 26-years-old, he knows that if he doesn’t make the NHL soon his desired salary will likely come from overseas. With the Baby Canucks, Bowey has been a consistent top-two defenceman, dominating in his own zone when his young team is caught on a rush, and mixing it up offensively when called upon. His 16 points on the season put him second in defensive scoring on Abbotsford, behind only Jack Rathbone. In the opposition’s zone, Bowey’s vision is just too good for the AHL. He reads plays at an NHL level, somehow predicting the messiness that is the minors, often jumping up into the rush like a forward. His dynamic skating that once dictated his game in the WHL is still present, and he has appeared to be more committed to his defensive development as of late. Simply put, Bowey has matured, and with him needing waivers when the Canucks current injury troubles subside, I would not be surprised to see other NHL teams explore claiming his talents.
If he does return to Abbotsford, Bowey will continue to play a significant role on the back end, especially with Rathbone still out of the lineup. Bowey recently wrote an incredibly insightful article for The Players Tribune, where he spoke about his experiences as a black hockey player, and I implore everyone to read it. His writing truly demonstrates the kind of person he is, and why he is someone worth rooting for.