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Middle Of The Road Is The Best Place To Get Run Over

So, as the season is about to wrap up (in a most unpleasant fashion no matter how it goes) and we can really get our teeth into the offseason, Scott Powers is here to give you, the people, some nuggets. They’re not…great nuggets.

The headline is that the Hawks have called the Jackets about Ryan Murray. Murray is an RFA this summer, and he can go completely unrestricted next summer if he were to sign a one-year deal. Which is probably what he wants to do, but that’ll be a hard sell to any team.

Murray had a pretty decent season last year, one for which he was finally able to stay in one piece for. At least for him. 56 games is an avalanche of efforts for him, but yeah, he’s got health issues. He’s been around six seasons now, if you can believe it, and has only gone the route once. And that 82 game season is the only one he’s managed more than 66. That’s generally the headline with Murray, something will fall off of him during the year.

Murray racked up 28 assists and 29 points, both career-highs. His metrics from this past season look pretty good, as he was +0.72 Corsi relative and +3.6 xGF% relative. The caveat is he spent a good portion of the season with Seth Jones. There is no Seth Jones here. However, Murray’s numbers don’t crater away from Jones, and Jones and Nutivaara’s (his other main partner) do go down without Murray. It’s perfectly in bounds to say that Murray is a fine player.

The thing is though, he helps your middle when the Hawks don’t have a top. They probably think they do, but they don’t. If you’re going to give up any kind of assets for a d-man who is made of balsa wood, why not just commit money to the one with red bursting crotch dots who is a top pairing player? There are more than a few guys who can do what Murray does that don’t involve giving up picks or prospects and then paying them. Fuck, Henri Jokiharju is supposed to do what Ryan Murray does and he’s already here and cheap. And if he can’t after a training-wheels season, then you better get his ass up outta here while other teams are still bewitched by his promise/have blind scouts. Connor Murphy basically already does what Murray does, and even better he’s now got the same health issues.

I understand why the Hawks might think they need a player like Murray. He’s stable in his own end. He’s big, but not immobile. And that certainly can’t hurt. He’s an upgrade on whatever they have now, but that’s hardly saying anything. But he’s not a puck-mover. He doesn’t pick up the Hawks’ pace, and the Hawks need that. He doesn’t get them out of the zone. They may think that Boqvist is going to do that one day but they also seem pretty damn determined to make sure that isn’t this day.

But you don’t get where you want to go by shopping in the middle. You get high end and then fill in below. The Hawks don’t have high end. They don’t have it anywhere, at least not proven. It’s not Keith anymore. It’s not Jokiharju, at least not proven. It’s not Boqvist, at least not proven. Either go big or go little but finding the middle is how you end up in the middle.

There isn’t a suggestion that this deal is close. And there isn’t a suggestion why the Jackets would even consider this unless Murray has made it clear he wants out (which is the trend around there). Losing their best forward makes their strength on the blue line all the more paramount, so unless they’re turning Murray into forward help I can’t see it. And the only forward help the Hawks have to move is Saad, and the Jackets have seen that movie and weren’t all that enamored then.

There’s a long way to go on this. It’s a defensible move, but it isn’t an inspirational one. My fear is that the Hawks don’t think they need an inspirational one, when it is clear that they do.

-Powers also adds to the rumble that the Hawks are going to take Alex Turcotte, which we probably should have all just accepted once you found out he was from here. Look, if the Hawks think he’s a genuine #1 center in waiting, and more of a sure thing to be that than Byram is to be a #1, then you can do that. And then you wait the year until he’s here, because while I wouldn’t bet on Jonathan Toews repeating that season, he’s still going to be productive. You don’t need the help at center the way you do at defense now.

I think I’d rather Byram, and we’ll dive into this during draft week. While the Hawks’ drafting generally gets good marks, remember it’s been six years since their 1st round pick made a serious impact (our dear sweet boy Teuvo). No, I’m not counting Ryan Hartman fuck you. Boqvist appears to be a major project. Jokiharju is an anything. The one before that was three years previous and it was Schmaltz and he ain’t here no more. You can’t miss on a #3 pick.

If you’re suspicious because of how the Hawks lust after local players, I’m not going to stop you. Turcotte’s scouting report is glowing as well. So are Byram’s though, and he could be here next season. He also creates flexibility via trades of your other prospects. Turcotte does not.

Getting itchy.

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