This is a post we might have to keep coming back to as the summer develops. But I thought it would prove useful to compare the sell-offs of the summers of ’10 and this one, and to compare how poised the Hawks are for their next Cup as they were with that one. It won’t make for pleasant reading, but so much of what we do doesn’t either so you’ll be used to that. No time like the present, let’s dive on in and not care if the water is shallow or not.
What Hawks Lost After ’10: It’s a pretty long list. Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Kris Versteeg (and it’s pretty funny that they simple CAN’T move him now), Brent Sopel, Ben Eager, John Madden, and Colin Fraser. In other terms, the Hawks lost 2/3rd of their third line (Versteeg and Ladd flanked Bolland most of that season), their 4th line center, a top six left winger (that’s where Byfuglien ended up anyway), a couple other components that rotated in on the 4th line in Eager and Burish, and their #5 d-man.
I should also add that Antti Niemi had to be left on the side of the road after his arbitration hearing.
What Came In: This will be return on those trades and other signings/draftees who replaced what came before. This isn’t that pleasant a list either. Bryan Bickell came up for his rookie year and managed 17 goals, almost all of which were wristers from the circle that teams kept giving him five minutes to line up. Viktor Stalberg floated around the bottom six. Jake Dowell centered the 4th line for a good chunk of that season. Michael Frolik was brought in midseason. Nick Leddy also appeared for the first time. This was also the dawn of the John Scott era. Nick Boynton and Jassen Cullimore briefly wasted all of our time on the 3rd pairing.
We forget that the Hawks did return basically their entire top six that year, and their entire top four defense. It’s also an indication of just how bad Hjalmarsson and Keith were that season that the Hawks barely scraped into the playoffs, but you want to give Hammer a pass as it was only his second season and he was still very much in his developmental phase (the following season wasn’t any better for him, however). But there was simply no depth behind any of this. After the top six was… I guess Bolland? Stalberg wasn’t anything, and eventually Marcus Kruger showed up as The Plan All Along.
However, a couple seeds were planted that would be part of the Cup winner two years later. Frolik and Leddy and Kruger, all mid-to-late season additions in 2011 were all some part of a Cup winner in ’13, and Kruger in ’15. You could argue that Hjalmarsson was part of this growing crop as well, taking two years of major lumps to be an integral cog in two further banner-raisings.
And of course, Corey Crawford took over for Marty Turco and he’s been something of an important piece in two Cup winners.
What Hawks Have Lost This Time: This is the problem, because we’re probably going to have to add to this list as July rolls on. But so far, the major difference between the two reconstructions is that the Hawks have lost a third of their top six (and I really hesitate to call Byfuglien a top six winger back then. I know it’s where he played but he dragged his ass for a good majority of that season). However, the forwards have already been much better fortified depth-wise than they were in 2010.
The bottom six now has some combination of Dano, Teuvo, Garbutt (who does have use despite the bile being spewed toward him right now), Shaw, Desjardins, I’m going to guess one of Hartman or Danault. We’d like to think Kruger will be added to that list as well, but we’ll hold off on that until it’s official. That’s certainly a better start than Dowell, Pisani, Stalberg, Skille, Potulny, a 19-year old Morin (when the Hawks still believed in him), and whatever other garbage water was used there. So that’s a little encouraging?
The Hawks of ’10-’11 also didn’t have a second center, as this was about the time Sharp moved permanently to wing until he absolutely had to go back to the middle near the end of the season and playoffs. This time Anisimov is already here, and Teuvo and Dano can fill-in there as well (though it seems both might be better off at wing, and I wonder if they haven’t pegged Kruger for a bigger, third center role this year if they can get him in).
The other big difference might be that unlike that ’10 purge the Hawks could lose one of their top four d-men in Oduya. They have a replacement in Daley, but that’s a step down (and we’ll go over why tomorrow). But much like the previous team, the third pairing is at best unknown and at-worst a mess. Despite the claims of many we still don’t really know what the Hawks have in Trevor van Riemsdyk, especially coming off two major leg injuries. While we think we might know what David Rundblad is, he only has 100 games of NHL experience and 180 in North America. Remember what Leddy’s first 100 games in the NHL looked like and maybe there’s still hope he can be something of a contributor down the line (I tend to doubt it but I won’t give up on the idea wholly yet). Worse yet, there doesn’t appear to be any Leddy ’11 candidates in the system now to grow beneath what is already set.
There are of course other differences. The ’10-’11 team contained Toews and Kane who hadn’t even hit their primes yet. They’re smack dab in the middle of them now. Keith was just starting his prime back then, and we like to think he’s got a couple more years in it even now but we’ll have to wait and see what last year’s Krpyton-inspired effort took out of him. Hjamarsson had a lot of development back then to do, he doesn’t now. Seabrook is at least on the latter half of his prime, and so with either of Daley or Oduya or both. Hossa is one year farther away from his prime. The good thing is you know almost exactly what you’re getting from all of them. The bad thing is the promise of more than that is pretty slim. There’s also no question about the goalies, we think.
I suppose there are as many seeds that could possibly be part of the next Cup winner here now as there were in ’10-’11. Teuvo’s already been part of one and has a lot of growth to go. Dano’s pedigree would suggest he could be too. Anisimov is 27 and should have a few prime years left and can certainly be part of a winner. We don’t know about Patarin, but we’ll throw him in to be charitable. We’d like to think Hartman could be a fourth or even third liner on a championship team, but we don’t know that.
What worries you a little is that Saad was supposed to be another one of those seeds, and some thought Johns could and would be too. But at least the loss of Saad has a potential equalizer in Dano.
I guess the bottom line is that the Hawks right now are better positioned at forward than they were the last time there was a major fissure of a championship team (as of right now). And they’re basically just about equal to where they were on defense, and could be better off if Keith and Hammer don’t take major steps back as they did then. And there’s no reason to think they will do that (though Daley is certainly not going to be anywhere near as good as Campbell was that season, but that’s a fight I’ll have another day).