In the end, it turned out to be a pretty flaccid trade deadline for the Hawks. It makes sense. They’re capped out and would have had to get awfully creative to acquire another center, which is what they need. And you can understand if not agree running for the shelter of going with last year’s team that won instead of risking fucking it up by tearing off a piece to get another.
But therein lies the problem, at least for me. The Hawks are basically standing still, and the rest of the West aren’t. The Blues, Avs, Ducks, and Sharks are unquestionably better than they were last year (and it’s not Ryan Miller’s acquisition for the Blues, but the growth of Jaden Schwartz and the unholy performance of Alex Steen among others). The Kings might not be better, though Gaborik helps and they might not be as beat up this spring as they were last.
The Hawks meanwhile, have basically swapped out Frolik for Ben Smith (push?) and Viktor Stalberg for Kris Versteeg (like it or not, Stalberg was more productive in last year’s regular season than Versteeg has been). It’s kind of just expecting everything to go right again, and I don’t know that it’s solid policy to bank on that.
The trade for David Rundblad is even more curious now. Last week, Stan Bowman told us he didn’t want to carry eight d-men anymore. Now he does and wants to cough up a 2nd round pick for the right? And where does Rundblad fit in the future? Even with an Oduya trade on draft day, he still plays the same side as Johns, Clendening, and Rozsival. He’s only going to get a handful of games the rest of this season at that. Is someone carrying an injury they’re not telling us about and thus need the insurance?
I just have this chilling vision of May when David Backes is harassing Jonathan Toews all over the ice and into irrelevance (he wouldn’t be the first to do it in the playoffs) and what’s after that? Can we count on Shaw and Handzus and Bickell to pick up the slack if the top line is rendered moot? Dicey. You can make an argument either way.
It could totally work, of course. Playoff time could see Sharp and a rested Hossa flank Handzus and make up for his slow feet. Saad might go off in the playoffs, which he didn’t last year. The slower game of the spring could see Handzus and Bickell shine again. The even greater depth on D could be telling, as Leddy is a better player than he was last year and could be a vital weapon. The farther away Versteeg gets from knee surgery could improve his play. All these things could happen.
It just seems like you’re asking for all of them to, and it seems like a lot.