Everything Else

Your most ambitious/erotic hockey free agency dreams are dead. The Hawks will not get John Tavares. They will not get John Carlson. Those were the biggest pieces out there, and one is staying put while the other won’t entertain the Hawks into his sewing circle. And while the consensus is still that it will be via trade through which the Hawks make changes, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to be found on the free agent market.

One name that hasn’t been linked to the Hawks is Paul Stastny. Now, maybe he really is a good St. Louis boy and would never dare pull on the red of the dreaded Blackhawks, Maybe he just wants to stay in Winnipeg because he has massive brain damage or something. But they’re going to struggle to find the space to keep him, and if they were going to they probably would have already. He’s out there, he’s better than serviceable, and he solves a lot of problems.

Is Stastny a dynamic scorer? No, and the thing is he never really was. His 28 goals as a rookie are the most he’s ever managed. He hasn’t eclipsed more than 20 in five years. But he consistently gives you 50-60 points if he’s got the talent around him (which he didn’t really in St. Louis as he didn’t play with Tarasenko or Schwartz much and it’s the Blues). He still has a 200-foot game and can kill penalties for you, and while not being the biggest he can play the role of “Annette Frontpresence” pretty effectively as his performances in the playoffs showed.

Under the surface, there are some concerns. Stastny had been a dominant possession player n the past, while taking on the tougher zone starts in St. Louis. But that changed last season, as he started more shifts in the offensive zone than before, and his Corsi went down, even on Winnipeg which itself was a dominant possession team. At 32, that doesn’t figure to get better. He’s also left-handed, and we know that right-handed centers tend to do better with Patrick Kane, which is probably where you’d slot him. But he’s a smart enough player to make that work.

The question is, as always, the money. Stastny just came off a deal that paid him $7 million per season and he’s coming down from that. The issue for the Hawks or anyone else is that any of the teams that get close to John Tavares but don’t get him are going to view Stastny as a Plan B. He makes sense in San Jose. He makes sense in Dallas. Going back to Colorado makes some sense. Quite simply, any team that feels it has to do “something” after losing out on JT is going to drive his price higher than you want.

Second problem is term. At 32, you ideally don’t want to be handing Stastny anything more than three years if you can help it. But as this is almost certainly going to be his last BIG DEAL, he’s going to want to get as many years as possible. Looking at some comps from the past, Martin Hanzal last summer got a three-year deal for $4.7M a year. He was two years younger than Stastny is now. Anisimov’s $4.5M hit seems a decent comparison as well. But given what some teams are going to want to do, you feel like Stastny’s number is going to puncture $5 million, and he may get four or five years.

As for where he fits on the Hawks, he wouldn’t displace Toews as a #1 center and maybe not even Schmaltz as a #2. If you just want a third center, someone that allowed Schmaltz to get the hammock shifts, then there are probably cheaper options. If you want something a little more dynamic and just have three really good centers, Stastny can probably still give you that.

Everything Else

For the second time this season, the Trib’s Chris Kuc has let it be known that the Hawks are after another blue liner in the trade market. This continues a pattern of Stan Bowman the past few years letting everyone in the world know what he’s looking for, which was a trait he had a couple years ago. And nothing gets into the press the Hawks don’t want, so this is no accident. It’s not really that big of a deal, because any punter with a vague concept of the rules of hockey could look at the collection of players dressing as d-men for the Hawks right now, let out a hearty “EEE GADS!”, and conclude the Hawks need someone else.

However, it is strange to make it so clear what you’re after, because every other GM is pretty much going to hold you upside down and shake. And maybe that’s why, so when the Hawks can’t find anyone they can say everyone was asking for too much. But whatever. Where are the Hawks going shopping?

Everything Else

Even though we’re still wringing out the beer and champagne and tears from our shirts and jerseys, the world of the NHL waits for no one. After Sunday’s draft, the pedal stays to the floor as free agency opens on Friday. Though the Hawks promise to not be big players, or maybe even players at all, that doesn’t mean there aren’t holes to fill. Most likely, Stan will do what he did last summer and wait for the market to bottom out and pick up someone on the cheap, which is how Michal Rozsival ended up here. There are some names that are worth studying for Stan, though.

We’ll start with the men in the middle, as one just went away. It’s obvious that Stan wants to plug Brandon Pirri in there to start next year with as much as he’s mentioned him to the press. Either that, or he’s just bluffing for some purpose yet to be determined. That slots Shaw and Kruger behind him, but the Hawks might be better off getting a veteran to move Shaw to wing to make up for the loss of Michael Frolik. There are some options.