Draft – Over. Bickell – Traded. Teravainen – Traded. Shaw – Traded. Panik – Re-signed. Rasmussen – Re-signed.
What are next steps for Stan Bowman and the boys in the Indian Head Sweaters?
First of all, the Rumor Mill is a-buzzing. Several of these need to go away. First there was a rumor that the Hawks were interested in Evgeni Malkin. Then, it was PK Subban. And inevitably, someone is going to say that the Hawks are “making cap space” to be a contender for Steven Stamkos. These three are pipe dreams, and video game fantasies. In the modern, Salary Capped NHL, you cannot have $30+ Million tied up in 3 players. Mathematically, this just doesn’t work. This doesn’t even include the fact that they would still have to play for Quenneville and play in his system (*cough cough* Subban).
There is no doubt that the Hawks have holes. Ideally, the Hawks need to a top 6 LW, a veteran bottom 6 winger (who can play Center in a pinch), and a defenseman or two. Based on the Cap, the Hawks are going to have to rely heavily on their farm system to fill some of these holes. Players like Ryan Hartman, Mark McNeill, and Garret Ross might finally be given a chance to compete and win some of the bottom 6 spots. Tyler Motte, Nick Schmaltz, and Vince Hinostroza, I believe, are on the outside looking in, and probably need another year or two. Defensive prospects like Ville Pokka, Gustav Forsling, and Dillion Fournier might have a long shot on the back end.
There are going to have to be a couple holes filled by free agency.
Brian Campbell has been a popular name to come in and help a diminished defense corps. Soupy helped the Hawks bring Lord Stanley back to Chicago in 2010 before being shipped off to Florida to play out the rest of his 8 year, $57M contract. Campbell is now a free agent again at the age of 37. A lot of Hawks fans have been clamoring to bring him back, hopefully, on a low dollar contract. At 37, it has to be asked, what does Campbell have left in the tank? As a puck moving defenseman, he was never shutdown in his own end. I can’t imagine that has improved since he was traded to Florida in 2010. Report today says he is willing to take less to come back to Chicago. Absolutely an upgrade to the rotating 5th and 6th Defensemen last year. But what’s the cost?
At Forward, Jiri Hudler and Jamie McGinn have been the two most popular names on the rumor wire.
Hudler was coming into the 2015-16 season after setting career highs in both Goals (31) and Assists (45) in 2014-15. He became one of the more productive players in league. However, the 2015-16 season was not as kind to the former Stanley Cup winner (2008 Detroit Red Wings). In split time with Calgary and Florida, he only posted 16 Goals and 30 Assists, and playing 2+ minutes less of ice time than the year before). He turns 33 on January 4th. At this point in his career, we have to believe that 2014-15 was the anomaly year, and shouldn’t be something to expect. With that being said, Hudler has been able to play both Wings and Center, and might be a quality depth guy.
McGinn posted his career high in points in 2015-16, splitting time with Buffalo and Anaheim. He posted 22 Goals and 17 Assists, and turns only 28 on August 5th. McGinn is listed at 6’1”, 205 lbs, and typically uses his size well at Left Wing. Unfortunately, LW is one of the biggest needs for the Hawks. The Hawks spent most of the year looking for a LW with size to play with Toews on the first line, a hole that was finally filled by the acquisition of Andrew Ladd. While McGinn may not be the flashy name that Hawks fans are desiring, he might be the sort of guy that gives Toews enough space and time to make plays in the offensive zone.
I started writing this before the NHL World got set on fire. Someone needs to put down the NHL 16 Controller…
First: Edmonton trades F Taylor Hall to New Jersey for D Adam Larsson. This deal makes sense for both teams in that both teams fill needs that have been apparent for years. The deal makes ZERO sense in that Edmonton got robbed. Larsson is a solid defenseman. On a good team, he is probably a number 3 defensemen. He is not a number 1 like Edmonton paid for.
Second: Nashville trades D Shea Weber to Montreal for D PK Subban. Our first blockbuster deal. It is a change of scenery for both teams. Montreal gets a solid at home defenseman with the best shot in the NHL, and Nashville gets the puck moving, play making D-man they lost when they traded Seth Jones last year.
Finally: Stamkos is staying put. Tampa Bay resigns the LeBron James of 2016 NHL Free Agency for a reported 8.5M per year for 8 years.
Free Agency starts July 1. Hold onto your butts…