God we’re going to use that picture a lot.
I’m probably going to disappoint you here, because my energy to rant and rave got up and went. My borderline-dread of what this season very well may be has kind of robbed me of the vigor to go nuclear at the lowest-level signing of Brandon Davidson.
Because the thing is…Brandon Davidson is fine. He’s fine if he’s in your #5-7 rotation. Yes, he played for three teams last year. And players who play for three teams in a season suck. That’s just the nature of the thing. Yes, he played for three teams with terrible defenses and moreover two of those teams don’t really know how to coach or develop any d-men. I don’t know what to make of Claude Julien anymore, so I’ll reserve judgement on that.
Davidson doesn’t score much, but his underlying numbers have always been good with the roles he’s been given. He’s honestly not going to kill you. But if there’s room for him on your blue line, your blue line probably blows.
What Davidson’s signing should have been is the one instead of Brandon Manning. Because they’re essentially the same thing, though Davidson probably has a little more dash to his game, whatever kind of claim that is. They’re both left-sided, third-pairing guys that you hope you don’t even notice really. The fact that the Hawks found room for both of them is a pretty huge indictment of what they are right now.
The Hawks are spending nearly $3 million this season to get two versions of the same thing. They could have had one of them for nothing, as that’s what Davidson is getting. There’s really only one slot for both, I guess, behind Keith and Gustafsson who take the other left-sided spots. And if one of them overtakes Gustafsson, that means things are worse than we thought and Goose is never going to be anything and you’d be better off watching porn than this team (probably always true, though).
None of this solves anything, which is the gaping holes on the top four. And they’ve been there FOR YEARS. They were there the minute Johnny Oduya sauntered off to Texas after the third parade. And the Hawks have done nothing, NOTHING, to fix it. Their pro scouting continues to let them down, or their internal budget does. It’s why we’ve seen confused clowns like Rob Scuderi, Jordan Oesterle, Christian Ehrhoff, Trevor Daley, David Rundblad, TVR, Darko Svedberg, the corpse of Michal Rozsvial or the corpse of Oduya’s second term, while somehow Michal Kempny wasn’t used and then went on to just anchor a second-pairing on a Cup winner. Also, if you read that entire list you will now die of dysentery in the next four years. Sorry.
That’s not to say Stan Bowman can’t recognize any d-man, because it’s generally agreed that Adam Boqvist and Henri Jokiharju are going to be difference-makers. Ian Mitchell may be as well. But all of that is two years away at a minimum.
The Hawks actually had cap space to address this. They could have addressed it in the past. Their answer was Brandon Manning, whom they just duplicated for a quarter of the cost. And the defense is the biggest reason this team is almost certainly going to suck and no one will be paying attention to it by Christmas. The forward corps isn’t great, but with a good blue line and a healthy Crawford (or any goalie who isn’t Cam Ward and could be competent) the Hawks would threaten the playoffs at worst. This one is probably going to get its head kicked in by any team with a collection of speed, which these days is just about all of them except like, the Islanders. And you only play them twice.
This is what happens when you have to use your movable pieces to help get things off the roster instead of put things on. I could trace this back to trading Patrick Sharp a year too late, or having to move Stephen Johns to get Sharp off the roster (not that Johns saves this, but he’s an NHL-quality d-man who at the very least could have netted something in return if he wasn’t used as Sharp sweetener. Insert your joke about all the places “Sharp Sweetener” went in Chicago here, just like he did). Or Teuvo, who most certainly could have gotten you a young, serviceable d-man in return if he didn’t have to be lashed to Bickell.
But that’s getting to be the longest book written, next to “Why No One Goes To Comiskey.” The problem isn’t Davidson. The problem is that there’s room for him at all.