Well it’s been a while since there have been games for the Hawks that have needed to be covered, two full weeks in fact since they last played in Dallas, wherein they earned point in overtime after falling behind very early, thanks in large part to a hit from Brett Connolly on Hawk Legend Tanner Kero that landed Connolly four games on top of getting 5 and the gate. Since then it has been a whirlwind of cancellations and changes in protocols across all sports and real life as Omicron burns through the unvaccinated countryside. It even led the NHL to pull out of the Olympics in China in February, and while a few players wet their pants over it, it’s probably the right move given China’s far stricter covid measures and the number of games that are going to need to be rescheduled during that break. In any event, the Hawks are back at it tomorrow afternoon while everyone rehydrates, as the Winter Classic is now smartly placed in prime time in Minnesota. Whether any of these games actually take place remains to be seen.

1/1 – at Nashville

Game Time  – 1:00 PM CST
TV/Radio – 
NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720
David Poile Has Always Been A Scumbag – On The Forecheck

In the penultimate game before the pause, the Nashville Predators were already pretty well besieged by covid and still manage to rub the Hawks’ ass in moonshine pretty much the entire game on the shot and possession ledger, with the Hawks only getting a point thanks to Marc Andre Fleury’s necessary acrobatics. And while the Hawks by and large have stayed clear of the covid fray, Flower still has yet to test out of it, and it’s unlikely he’ll be available for the New Year’s Day matinee. The Preds have already played two games since the restart after Christmas, losing in regulation in Washington, which happens, and then losing in a shootout to Columbus, which probably shouldn’t happen to a serious team. Though having Roman Josi out in protocols certainly isn’t helping their cause, as he’s their leading scorer (again) from the back end with 29 points. Colton Sissons is also currently out, but that could all change at a moment’s notice. As is going to be the case for probably the next two or three weeks, these games are still going to be completely slapdick in terms of roster availability and how that affects outcomes.

1/2 – vs Calgary

Game Time – 7:00PM CST
TV/Radio – NBC Sports Chicago, SportsNet, WGN-AM 720
Dangerous Minds – ScorchStack

The Hawks had better hope Flower passes his PCRs or whatever soon, otherwise they’ll turn their lonely gaze towards Swedish child Arvid Soderblom to take the second half of the back to back and make his NHL debut, instead of Colin Delia whose ass is likely going to be stuck in the drive through at Beef A Roo for the rest of his life. Soderblom has a .915 in nine games for the Piggies, so it’s fair that he at least gets a look so the Hawks know if they have anything before they inevitably have to ask MAF where he’d like to be traded. Being listed at 6’2″, 188 lbs is probably generous for this taut pre-teen Swedish boy, as his draft mugshot last year made the rounds last year to a chorus of “christ almighty”. The Flames won their first game back last night in Seattle, and are avoiding a stopover in Winnipeg (hooray) prior to coming here. They’re mostly healthy right now, and dong whipped the Hawks at the Saddledome in November, so this could be TRIAL BY FIRE (GET IT) for young Arvid.

1/4 – vs Colorado

Game Time – 7:30PM
TV/Radio – ESPN+/Hulu (bullshit), WGN-AM 720
Loud Pack – Mile High Hockey

The Avs clearly aren’t where they would like to be standings-wise right now. They had a ton of nagging injuries even before this latest bout with pestilence gripped the league, though at the moment it appears that they don’t have anyone in protocol. However Bowen Byram, who was supposed to announce his presence to the league this year has yet to do so consistently, and is currently on IR. But regardless of what the Wild might be doing in the division at the moment, it’s still all about the spring for the Avs, as they still have the firepower to come out of the Western Conference if not win the whole fucking thing, and have yet to get past the second round since their proverbial window has opened. Though it seems like nine years ago already, the Avs absolutely embarrassed the Hawks and the previous regime on national television on opening night for TNT’s first broadcast, so it will be an interesting measuring post to see if even the slightest bit of structure and home ice can keep this game competitive for even 40 minutes.


Happy New Year Everyone.



Game Times: 7:00PM (1/26), 6:30PM (1/27)
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago (1/26), NBCSN (1/27), WGN-AM 720
Beat Reporters Crying About Not Being Able To Visit Tootsie’s: On The Forecheck

Despite two wins against the terrible and depleted Red Wings over the weekend, this season still figures to be a long one for the Hawks, whose travels now take them to Nashville for a back to back against the Predators. And while the Hawks may be a punchline now with many gleefully kicking dirt on the grave of the team, it’s a far better fate than what’s befallen the Predators, who have a single Final appearance to their name despite being darlings of the hockey cognoscenti for just about as long.



Game Time: 7:30PM CST
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720
Send David Poile To Gitmo: On The Forecheck

In a less-dystopian universe, one where each team played to what their roster says they should be, tonight’s matchup on West Madison would be one filled with Western Conference playoff intrigue. The Predators jockeying for home ice in the first round and the Hawks clinging to hold on to one of the last wild card spots. But instead, it’s the Preds still trying to figure themselves out as they keep running out of road in the regular season, and the Hawks actively imploding.



Game Time: 7:30PM CST
TV/Radio: NBCSN, NBC Sports Chicago, WGN-AM 720
David Poile Is A Scumbag: On The Forecheck

If the Hawks record and stagnant roster weren’t a self evident indication of how rudderless and sclerotic this Organ-I-Zation has been since its most recent playoff ouster at the hands of tonight’s vistors, the Nashville Predators, then the fact that the Preds fired Peter Laviolette earlier this week while remaining ahead of the Hawks in the standings should drive the point home. But it remains unchanged that the Hawks are still outwardly holding the product on-ice to a playoff standard, and tonight poses yet another opportunity to gain points on a team they are currently (on paper) battling for a playoff spot, an opportunity which will surely end up being pissed away in creative fashion as so many others have the past two seasons.

Everything Else

Last week, The Maven brought up the idea of trading Brandon Saad. You should read the whole thing, but the SparkNotes version is that the Hawks might have as many as three forwards who can maybe do what Saad does for less money. This money will be important for re-signing Alex DeBrincat after next year.

While we’ve been hemming and hawing over how the Hawks need to make a legitimate run at Erik “My Crotch Is Itchy” Karlsson, it’s hard to picture the organization having the stomach to pay him the $12 million per over eight years he’ll probably ask for (and deserve). EK65 will always be the dream(boat), but you can see the Hawks balking, with DeBrincat and possibly Strome asking for the money the Hawks owe them in arrears for setting the world on fire.

With all that in mind, there are three things the Hawks should be looking to do this offseason:

1. Shore up the defense

2. Improve the penalty kill

3. Add a top-six forward

Shoring up the defense and improving the penalty kill are so far ahead of adding a top-six forward in my view that if the Hawks decided to trade Brandon Saad—who himself is a top-six winger, even if Beto O’Colliton thinks he was born for this third-line horseshit—to solve the first two problems, I wouldn’t even be mad.

I’ll stop edging you here.

Let’s offer Brandon Saad, Erik Gustafsson, and a pick/prospect for P.K. Subban.

How the FUCK Did You Come Up With That?

After the Preds were hilariously bounced from the playoffs much earlier than anticipated, the trade rumors around Pernell-Karl began circulating immediately. (Whether they’re true or not doesn’t matter right now. We’re bored and don’t really want to think about the Cup, so this is what we’re doing.) If there’s even a small consideration that David Poile would trade someone as dynamic, fashionable, and wonderful as P.K. Subban, you absolutely must make a phone call, division rivalry be damned. (As much as I’d like to use the Hartman–Ejdsell trade as proof that in-division trades can happen, what I’m proposing is a much more unwieldy beast than that.)

P.K. Subban on the Hawks definitely shores up the defense. He most likely improves the penalty kill as well.

OK, Dumbass, Why Would Nashville Ever Do That?

Let’s say you get Poile on the phone and offer Saad, Gus, and a pick/prospect. Let’s say the pick/prospect is either Boqvist or this year’s second round pick (#43 overall). Is this comparable? Let’s start with the stats.

2018–19 GP G A P CF% xGF%
P.K. Subban 63 9 22 31 53.61 50.54
B. Saad 80 23 24 47 52.69 47.27
E. Gustafsson 79 17 43 60 50.24 45.50

Last year was Subban’s worst year as a professional hockey player. He posted his lowest games-played total (not counting the season-in-a-can in 2013), his lowest assists total, his lowest points total, and third-lowest goals total. He was out for six weeks nursing an upper body injury, which no doubt contributed to his off year.

Compare that to the two players the Hawks would give up. Erik Gustafsson not only had the best year of his career by far but also was one of the best offensive D-men statistically in the NHL last year. He and P.K. Subban have exactly the same number of 60-point seasons under their belts. He’s also younger (27 vs. 30) and on a much friendlier albeit soon-to-be-ending contract ($1.2 million vs. $9 million). Something tells me you can use these points to convince Poile it’s not a bad idea.

Likewise, Brandon Saad’s 47 points would have made him a top-five scorer for the Preds last year. His 23 goals would be third behind Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg. His 24 assists would also be top five on the Preds.

Based solely on last year’s numbers, this trade is a huge win for the Preds, statistically.

But of course, we can’t neglect history. P.K. Subban is without a doubt one of the top D-men of his generation. He’s been a consistent force on both sides of the puck and on both sides of the special-teams ledger. His presence on the PP is devastating, and in the four years prior to last year (2014–2018), Subban played a top role on both the Canadiens’s and Preds’s PK units: Each team’s PK finished 7th, 12th, 15th, and 6th, respectively, and in the two years a Subban team finished outside the top 10, Subban had missed at least 14 games. Neither Saad nor Gus have anything close to his pedigree.

At this point, it’s probably not a bad idea to talk about cap implications, because that could matter.

With this trade offer, the Preds would free up $1.8 million in cap space, giving them just about $9 million to play with (according to CapFriendly). Maybe they use that money to add another scoring threat in, like, Jeff Skinner, I don’t know. Fuck Nashville, I’m not doing this for them.

The point is: If Nashville truly believes it’s Subban’s fault they got knocked out so early and would consider trading him for it, Gus and Saad both provide as much or more offense than they currently have for less money. Nashville can then use that additional money to re-sign Josi or sign Duchene or Ferland or whichever other good ol’ boy they think is the missing piece but obviously isn’t. Plus, Poile might be getting itchy feet, as his team hasn’t yet won the Cup all of its entitled, illiterate, hillbilly, raising-banners-for-nothing-that-matters fans have been stealing college chants about, such is the depth of that pool of cleverness. He can MAKE A MOVE and trade his misidentified scapegoat in one fell swoop.

While Saad and Gus would be good adds for Nashville in the contexts of last year; Nashville’s need for more scoring from their forwards; and their need to replace the defensive offense Subban provides; P.K. Subban is a legitimate star who can pull the receipts out of any one of his agonizingly fashionable outfits as proof. That’s where you’d hope the #43 pick pushes this offer over the top.

I had wanted to use the #3 overall pick in this peyote-driven fantasy. As much as I love Subban (fuck, I’m offering SAAD for Christ’s sake), giving up 100-plus points AND a decent lottery ticket is probably feeling my oats a tad too much. Maybe you talk #3 if it’s an either/or with Saad and Gus, but that’s gonna complicate things more than I’m willing to get into. So you offer the #43. If they say no to that, or if they said, “No, we’d rather have Boqvist,” fine, I don’t fucking care, you can have him.

Because remember, you’re getting P.K. Subban, a proven two-way D-man who can play well on special teams. Boqvist doesn’t project to do that, and even if he ever became that, the Core will be long dead by then (or retired or whatever it is hockey players do when they’re done playing). And by all indications, the goal is to make one last run at it with this Core, specifically, Kane and Toews.

So again, the point of this trade is to shore up the defense and improve the PK, with the overarching goal of making one more run at a Cup with the Core. If the price is right, Subban might be the missing piece.

I’ve Made It This Far. What’s It Look Like?

What do the Hawks look like if something like this goes through? Let’s start by using the current roster after the trade.








Boqvist/Beaudin–Koekkoek/Seabrook (Kill me)



That top four on the backend starts looking a lot better. Subban also gets Seabrook off the PK, which is an absolute must after last year’s trainwreck. You can mix and match Murphy and Harju, Subban and Keith. Having Subban back there solves a lot of defensive and PK problems. Subban also knows how to move the puck, which the Hawks have missed as Keith has aged.

This line up as you see it makes a few assumptions. First, I’m assuming that the Hawks re-sign the entire third line at $1 million per: Each of Perlini, Kampf, and Sikura is an RFA this year. This is purely a guess at what they’ll get. I’m also guessing that Kabulik brings a $2 million cap hit, because I don’t know what his contract actually looks like.

With these assumptions, the Hawks still have $11–12 million in cap space, according to CapFriendly. That’s probably not enough to both sign a top-six forward this year AND re-sign DeBrincat/Strome next year, unless you find someone willing to take Anisimov’s contract. This also asks a lot of Dominik Kabulik, but slotting him with someone he knows (Kahun) and someone he can probably trust (Toews) is about as soft a landing as you can get. It ALSO doesn’t consider what the Hawks will do about Crawford, who is a UFA after next year.

P.K. Subban would solve a ton of problems the Hawks have. He’d give them the second-best shot (after Karlsson) of shoring up the Hawks’s woeful blue line (and he might be a safer bet than Karlsson anyway). He’d keep this Core’s window open just a little bit longer.

If the Hawks could get him for Saad, Gus, and the #43 or a prospect like Boqvist, I’m pulling the trigger on that every day. For P.K. Subban, the whole package is more than worth it.

If the goal is to make one more run at a Cup with the Core, Subban can help. We’d just need Dave Poile—the winningest GM in NHL history, except in the one game that matters—to prove what a huge fucking genius he is one more time.

Stats from and NaturalStatTrick. Cap shit from CapFriendly’s Armchair GM tool.

Everything Else

It’s not often that you see a 60-point defenseman and think, “This guy probably tops out as a third-pairing bumslayer.” But that’s what we got with Erik Gustafsson, who’s a riddle wrapped in a mystery wrapped in a position on the blue line. He was the ambergris of the Blackhawks: a weird combination of gross–great as exciting, frustrating, and terrifying as discovering your sexuality.


79 GP, 17 G, 43 A, 60 P

50.24 CF%, 45.5 xGF% [5v5]

It Comes With a Free Frogurt!

We didn’t bury the lede here. Erik Gustafsson scored 60 points. That’s sixth among all NHL defensemen. You know who else did that? Brent Burns, Mark Giordano, Morgan Rielly, John Carlson, and Keith Yandle. That’s good company.

And it wasn’t all on the power play. His 13 even-strength goals tied him for third among defensemen, along with Roman Josi and Kris Letang, and just behind Morgan “Fuck spelling” Rielly and Dougie Hamilton.

From about December 18 on, he took the point on the top power play unit and brought it back from the dead. From that day on, the Hawks led the league in PP% at 27.1%.

The only guys ahead of him in scoring on the Hawks were two future Hall of Famers in Kane and Toews, and a budding star in Alex DeBrincat.

All of this came from out of nowhere, too. After being drafted by the Oilers in 2012, Gus had only played a total of 76 games before this season, racking up 14 points in 15–16 (all assists) and 16 points in 17–18 (five goals, 11 assists). There were a few flashes of brilliance from him toward the end of the year in 17–18, especially when he was out there with Kane, but nothing that could have predicted what we got from him this year.

Plus, strictly by the statistics, Gus was decent in terms of possession. His CF% was a pubic hair above even, which, relative to the Hawks, was Dirk Digglerian.

And it’s all at bargain basement prices, as Gus is signed through next year at a cool $1.2 million.

And yet . . .

The Frogurt Is Also Cursed

Gus couldn’t find his own asshole in the defensive zone with both hands and a hemorrhoid donut. Watching him in his own zone was like watching a never-ending game of “HEY WILLIE! CATCH THE FOOTBALL!” He took huge risks while skating with a partner who’s only slightly less of a cowboy than he is. He hung his goalies out to dry more often than not. And it didn’t look like he was actively trying to improve that as the year went on. Scoring 60 points excuses a lot of things.

Remember that for a time, there was discussion about turning Gus into a forward because of how woeful he looked as a defenseman. And some of the numbers flesh that out. Despite starting a tad over 60% of his time in the offensive zone at evens (not just 5v5), the only defenseman to give up more high-danger chances against was his running mate, Duncan Keith (363 and 367, respectively).

It’s the same story with high-danger goals against, with the two of them present for 47 HDGA each at evens. While Gus didn’t have the worst rates in terms of high-danger chances and goals allowed (which belong to Carl Dahlstrom and Brandon Motherfucking Manning), it sure is odd for a guy who starts so much time away from his own goaltender to be on the ice for so many chances.

Unless, of course, you’re Erik Gustafsson.

Can I Go Now?

Erik Gustafsson is polarizing. It’s hard to true up the fact that he’s both a 60-point scoring D-man and a bad D-man, but here we are. He’s not quite a forward, and he’s not quite a D-man, but maaaaan.

The Hawks have shown no interest in trading Gustafsson, and it’s really as simple as pointing to those 60 points and that $1.2 million deal. But doubling your career point total from out of nowhere in your age 26 season is so far out of the realm of normal that it’s a hell of a risk to assume that he can do it again. And if he does it all over again, you can bet he’s going to be looking for some serious Fuck You Money.

Gus at $1.2 million makes sense. If he scores 60 or more again next year? That’s a hell of a decision to make with the re-sign. Are you comfortable paying $5–8 million a year for a D-man who doesn’t play defense, especially when you have four young D-men who are all offensively minded coming up in the next 3–4 years (in theory)? Especially when the only guy who’s shown he can play consistent defense is Connor Murphy?

It would hard to justify trading him (likely as a package) for anything but a proven #1 D-man. Sixty-point D-men are rare, even if they do look stupid out there sometimes. And above all, Gus is fun. If the Hawks don’t have a plan for how they’re gonna win another Cup with the Core—and to reiterate, they don’t—the least they can do is make it fun.

But if I’m Stan Bowman, I’m calling Dave Poile at whichever banner shop he’s at that makes every kind of banner except a Stanley Cup Champions banner and offering Gus, and Boqvist or the #3 for P.K. Subban, because anyone stupid enough to blame Subban for Nashville’s woes might take that offer no questions asked.

For now, all we can do is watch and wonder as Gus Diarrhea Dragon’s his way up and down the ice, bringing the backend offense we’ve so desperately wanted and the awful defense we’ve grown so accustomed to.

Previous Player Reviews

Corey Crawford

Cam Ward

Collin Delia

Duncan Keith

Connor Murphy

Henri Jokiharju

Gustav Forsling

Everything Else


Game Time: 7:00PM CST
TV/Radio: NBCSN National, WGN-AM 720
Fuck David Poile: On The Forecheck

With the next stop on this Freakout Hell Bus Ride of 5 games in 7 nights for the Hawks, they find themselves once again in Nash Vegas, where they’ll take on the league’s secret scumbag team masquerading as its sweetheart, the Predators, who somehow once again look different than the last time the Hawks saw them.