We’ll wrap up our free agent wishlist, and wait for the Hawks to sign players we never considered, with the biggest fish out there, unrestricted or restricted. And let’s cut the heart out of the Leafs while we’re at it.
Height: 6-0 (not really) Weight: 175 lb
Age: 22 Shoots: Right
82 games – 26 G – 68 A – 94 P – 22 PIM
52.0 CF% (+0.38 Relative) 52.8 x GF% (+1.63 Relative) 51.6 ZSR
Why The Hawks Should Sign Him
Because he’s really good. Because he might actually be a generational player. Because 22-year-olds who just racked up 94 points are generally nowhere near the market, and we can thank the Toronto media and fans for this bit of intrigue. Because he’s another torch-bearer when Toews and Kane can’t do it anymore. Because it’s a statement of intent. Because it makes it clear the last two seasons were simply unacceptable. Because it shows imagination and hutzpah. Because the Hawks might actually have to sell some tickets instead of papering their sellout streak anyway possible. Because it would certainly placate the veterans you still want to be a part of things. Because it would be exciting and suddenly your team might just be Showtime of the Central Division. I really don’t even have to sell this.
Why the Hawks Shouldn’t Sign Him
Well, that’s just as obvious, isn’t it? He ties up the cap something fierce. He doesn’t help the defense other than scoring more goals. There are questions about his appetite for getting involved in the middle of the ice when things matter most, though that’s probably drummed up by the Toronto media again to help drive his price down. He’s a touch small, but that shouldn’t be a concern at all. He doesn’t help the kill much, though he did kill penalties for the first time this season, and is someone whose speed and threat could be a real weapon on the kill. Point-men would be a little more careful with the puck knowing any slip is sending Marner the other way.
Ok, let’s first figure out how it’s possible, because it is. Let’s just say right now it takes a seven-year, $77M offer. It might even be more, but let’s go with the $11M figure for now. The Hawks have just over that in space, so signing Marner to that leaves no room for Perlini and Kampf. Well, actually it does, because you can be 10% over until opening night.
So for the 185th time, get Anisimov off this roster. You just drafted his replacement anyway, and said replacement should probably be playing, and if Dach really isn’t up for it this season guess what? Marner can play center too. It’s not ideal, but you can do it. So there’s $2-4M in space depending on what you have to take back to get Arty’s beleaguered ass out of town. That probably gets you through this season, though your defense is still a goddamn mess. But we’ve pretty much already acquiesced to that being the case.
BUT WHAT ABOUT STROME AND TOP CAT HOW ARE WE GOING TO PAY THEM?! That’s been the squeal from the front office itself for about six months now. First, pump the brakes on Strome for a hot minute. This time last year the Hawks were telling everyone that they had to reserve space to throw $6-7M a year at Nick Schmaltz. He’s on a trainer’s table in Glendale now. Strome gave you a good 50 games. So did Schmaltz. Let’s just say he’s got more to prove.
Still, you’ll obviously need more than $6M in space or so that moving Arty along will give you, plus the minuscule bump the cap will get. It’s the season after that when the new US TV deal will kick in and the cap will get a noticeable bump, so we’ve got some work to do.
Let’s attack another way. The Hawks currently have $23M open for next year. $11M to Marner brings that down to $12M, but a punting of Arty makes it somewhere between $14-$16. If everything goes well this year, DeBrincat and Strome eat that up, and you also haven’t re-signed Crawford yet. But, one or two of Murphy, de Haan, or Maatta probably have to go because they all do the same thing and by 2020 Adam Boqvist and Ian Mitchell had better be in the lineup or everyone’s fired. You’re probably selling Brandon Saad too unless he does something pretty goofy this season. After that the US TV deal kicks in and you have more room and fucking figure it out.
As for the draft picks? Who gives a shit? You’re not going to have a top three pick again, and you supposedly just got your #1 center of the future. You clearly think you have enough young d-men to make up for the fact that none of them are a true #1, but it may be that you don’t need that anymore. You can find players at #18 or #25 or wherever the Hawks plan on finishing, but you can find players anywhere too. Maybe you convince the Leafs to send one of the #1s back to you for Gustafsson or something. Or you get another #1 for him at the deadline when he’s goofing another 60 points off the power play but Jokiharju and Boqvist are ready to go and hey maybe Denver is done early and Mitchell is too. Whatever, how long do you want to be in the wilderness?
Basically, it doesn’t make any sense but it can be figured out. Fortune favors the brave. Let’s get nuts.