Everything Else

I suppose I should rejoice that they’re doing SOMETHING. And the quickness with which it was done lets you know the Hawks know they need to make changes and are urgent to do so. I’m not sure that matters when your changes are wrong.

In case you didn’t see the news, the Hawks traded Dominik Kahun and a 5th round pick this year to Pittsburgh for Olli Maatta. I’m not going to sugarcoat this for you. Olli Maatta sucks. He’s sucked for years now, and the only reason anyone would be attracted to him is a first-round draft pedigree that is now seven years old and buried under the dust of underwhelming when not straight-up bad performance. This is how Pierre McGuire would make trades.

Maatta is SUH-LOW. In a league that’s getting faster and for a team that lacks any mobility on the blue line, I guess he’ll fit right in but he doesn’t fix anything. He also can’t make up for it by making plays or the like, as the Hawks could get away with a slow d-man who can at least get the puck out and up to the forwards quickly and crisply. Maatta cannot do that, or at least hasn’t shown he can.

Maatta spent a majority of the season on the Penguins third pairing, which he was eventually punted from when Marcus Pettersson proved to be more useful and after the acquisition of Erik Goddamn Fuck You Gudbranson. That’s right, Erik “If And Italian Beef Shit Were A Hockey Player” Gudbranson was much preferred over Maatta in the playoffs. And before you say, “Well, maybe the coach is an idiot?” remember Mike Sullivan has two rings.

You can at least try and find the pinch-hold that Maatta started an overwhelming amount of his shifts in the defensive zone this year. But his zone-starts weren’t really noticeably worse than Letang’s or Dumoulin’s (the guy the Hawks probably should have been calling about) but his metrics far worse. And in the previous three seasons, Maatta’s zone starts have been more forgiving and his possession numbers are still awful.

Maatta has never managed more than 30 points in the league, so he’s not offensively gifted. He’s not like, an awful passer, but he’s far from a dynamic one.

To add to that, he’s made of duct tape and snot. He’s gone the route of 82 games just once in six seasons, and has missed more than 15 games in a year four times in his six year career.

One more thing, he’s not even that cheap! Maatta makes $4M for the next three seasons, but seems awfully expensive for a third-pairing d-man, which is all Maatta has ever proven to be. Good thing the Hawks already had like, five of those.

And this isn’t some love letter to Dominik Kahun. He’s a useful player that can help a team a lot from the bottom six, but he’s also the type of player you’re supposed to be able to find with regularity. And the Hawks might already have with Dominik Kubalik, any step forward from Dylan Sikura, and possibly a surprise from Phillip Kurashev who I’ve decided to adopt as my guy for really no other reason than my love for Xherdan Shaqiri. Kahun will do well with the Penguins, but the Hawks should be able to plug that hole. You’d hope.

Where Maatta slots is another questions. He’s left-sided, so he’d be best paired with a fast, puck-moving, right-sided d-man. Let me look over who fills out that role for the Hawks. Oh that’s right, fucking no one. Boy, guess we’d better hope Boqvist makes the team out of training camp, huh? Except that Maatta won’t be able to cover for all his booboos in the d-zone. Wonderful. I’m now going to go eat a stainless steal pan.

If this is what the Hawks diagnose as their problem, they’re fucked. If they’re scouting Maatta as the mobility or assuredness they need, they’re fucked. Maatta is a bottom of the roster fix when the top is still emitting noxious fumes. You have to pray this is only the start and not the coup-de-useless.

Otherwise, great trade.

Everything Else

Before we get started, we didn’t do one of these yesterday because talking about hockey didn’t feel right yesterday. When you’re in this morass, do you really want to even think about next season right now? But anyway, this is our charge now so let’s resume.

Ok, Nazem Kadri is a complete penis. He’s more likely to do something horribly damaging to your team when it matters most than help it. In fact, had he kept his head on straight for once the Leafs might have actually beaten the Bruins. Any future infraction from this dickhead is going to result in a long suspension, and seeing as how you can’t trust him to learn or trust your substitute teacher of a coach to straighten him out, the risks are quite clear.

But here’s the thing. When he’s not trying reenact the Battle Of Saxony by himself, Nazem Kadri is a hell of a player. He has four 50+ point seasons on his resume (one was at that pace in 2013), and he’s done that mostly taking the dungeon shifts as a checking center either as the #3 center behind Matthews and Bozak or Tavares this year. He won 55% of his draws this year, which you know will still make some people in the Hawks’ front office tumescent. He put up 44 points this year mostly playing with a corpse in Marleau and something called Connor Brown. He’ll produce with just about anyone.

And the Hawks have a need, whether they want to admit it or not. As it stands right now, you don’t really want Jonathan Toews taking a massive amount of draws and shift-starts in his own end. But the Hawks only have one other player who can do that in David Kampf. Strome needs to be completely sheltered, and really so does Anisimov until you finally get him off this roster. Swapping in Kadri and punting Arty to wherever will take him for an Edible Arrangement gives you two centers you can leash to the d-zone, allowing Toews to really focus on the offensive end. At this point in his career, it’s one or the other for the most part.

Second, Kadri is cheap. His cap-hit is essentially the same as Anisimov’s, but you get a ton more. You get more skill, more speed, and a far better defensive player. Sure, he’s signed for three more years but at 28 he’s not likely to fall off a cliff before it’s up. And even if the offense starts to dry up you still have a pretty hellacious checking center on your hands. And there’s really nothing in the system at center unless the Hawks take Turcotte (which they’re going to), but you can worry about that shuffle whenever Turcotte is ready. Or you could just not take Turcotte if you swing for Kadri here.

Where this all falls apart is that the Hawks don’t really have anything the Leafs want. The Leafs need NHL-ready d-men. If they were run by a complete jackass, as they were in the past, you could probably really sell them on the offensive production and the cheapness of Gustafsson, which would still allow them to make moves considering he makes nothing. But Kyle Dubas probably isn’t a complete moron. Prospects don’t do the Leafs a whole lot of good as they are all about NOW NOW NOW, unless you could involved a third team for them to swing those prospects to. If you were looking for an actual landing spot for Keith, you might be able to sell him on this given Babcock and their chances but I don’t know that you could sell the Leafs on it. But there’s been no whisper that Keith has asked out or that the Hawks have asked him if he wants out.

Yes, Kadri wouldn’t solve your top six winger deficiency. But if you’re going 19-17-43-64 down the middle you can probably live with some third-line winger moonlighting on the top six. No, he doesn’t help the defense but his cap number is low enough, especially with any jettisoning of Anisimov, that you would retain all the flexibility to do something about that as well.

Yes, the gray matter is a concern. The hope would be that even with an overmatched coach, a leadership stable of Toews, Keith, Seabrook would keep him in a line a ton better than whatever it was in Toronto. The Hawks have made that bet before.

It hinges on just how sick the Leafs are of his bullshit. You get the sense if you could have made this trade in April they would have given him to you for a song. But now that time has let everything cool, it’ll be harder. But it makes sense, if the Hawks want to get creative.

Everything Else

We continue our look around what the Hawks might be able to pry loose via trade this summer, and our lonely eyes turn to The Iladelph. This one isn’t as clear as some others, where the Flyers aren’t actively shopping Shayne Gostisbehere. But they’re also listening, desperate for some forward help. That’s why they’ve traded for the rights to pay Kevin Hayes, who sucks, but it would be truly Flyers to get the jump on negotiations and fuck them up anyway.

So first off, would the Flyers actually part with Ghost Bear? Possibly. He’s been passed on the depth chart by Ivan Provorov, and it might soon be that Travis Sanheim does as well. They’ve been waiting for Robert Hagg and Samuel Morin forever, and there’s a couple other kids down in the system as well. It’s something of a strength to trade from for them.

And Ghost Bear has earned himself the title of a power play specialist. Your first reaction is to say that he’s just younger, more mobile Erik Gustafsson. Except that younger and more mobile is something we’ve wanted Gus to be for his entire stay here, so I’m not sure that’s anything worth complaining about.

But yes, Gostisbehere has racked up the power play points in the past, with 33 two years ago, and 23 the year before that. That doesn’t mean he’s a total nincompoop at even-strength, with 23 points this year and 32 the year before that. Ghost Bear might always be haunted by his rookie year where he put up 17 goals in just 64 games. But he shot 11% that season, which is astronomical for a defenseman and really shouldn’t be expected again.

That said, Gostisbehere’s metrics at evens are pretty good, well above the team-rate in Corsi the past three seasons and above in expected goals the past two. The caveat here is that Ghost Bear is punted in the offensive zone to start his shifts most of the time, so he should probably carry a higher rate than the team.

The drawback to Ghost Bear is that he doesn’t help out the defensive game much. And while he’s brilliantly skilled and mobile, it’s unclear if he can consistently skate or pass his team out of trouble when in his own zone. He wasn’t asked to do it a whole lot in Philly. Again, perhaps paired with a really good defensive partner you’d have a nice dynamic, but right now the only player the Hawks have that qualifies as that is Connor Murphy. It’s a nice thought, but a Ghost Bear-Murphy pairing sounds like a really nice second pairing and doesn’t solve your top of the rotation problem.

Is he gettable? Probably. Rumors have the Canadiens hot on his ass and dangling Andrew Shaw and/or Paul Byron to get him. Certainly Brandon Saad would be more than that, though if that deal straight up makes you queasy I get it. The Flyers are desperate for any kind of second line help, and Saad would definitely qualify as that. Fuck, maybe you catch the Flyers being the Flyers and convince them that Anisimov is that, especially if they can’t sign Hayes. It’s a longshot, but dumber things have happened.

Does he help? That’s a harder case to make. Again, the Hawks are fiending for mobility on the back end like no one else. This would make Renton’s withdrawal look like a cold. But Ghost Bear might be more of what they have, somewhat wayward in his own zone. If he had proved to be a carry-the-mail type, you’d be in on this 100%. But he might just be like Gustafsson, where you’ve got to get him to the offensive zone another way before his real effectiveness is apparent.

Like we’ve said about just about everyone we’ve previewed, he’s better than almost everything else the Hawks have on the roster now. But is he such an improvement? He would make Gustafsson expendable and you probably can fetch more for Gus than you give up for Ghost Bear simply due to the contract. Ghost Bear is also 26, so he may have some improving to do but he’s also not so far away from his peak that you can picture him being significantly more than he is. Again, this feels like another half-measure.

Everything Else

As we idle away waiting for Game 7, and really the offseason when the Hawks will be involved again, it’s probably time to cycle through some possible targets the Hawks could trade for. There will be time to discuss free agents, the draft as well, but we know a lot of deals happen between the end of the Final and draft day, and really right up until July 1st. With the free agent market being pretty damn thin, the Hawks are likely going to have to work out an exchange with someone if they want to upgrade either the defense or top six.

So let’s start with probably the best d-man available via trade, Jacob Trouba (unless Carolina gives up on Dougie, but we don’t know that they will).

Trouba is an RFA this summer, which means you could simply offer sheet him and just give up the draft picks. That runs the risk of the Jets matching, a forfeiture of picks that is a tad heavy, as well as breaking the NHL’s unwritten “no offer sheets” rule. So it’s more likely you’d have to work out a straight trade for his rights.

To some, it may be curious why the Jets would be giving up on their top-pairing d-man, and they certainly don’t have to do anything given his restricted status. But the Jets and Trouba have been at odds for years, and it’s hardly a secret that he wants out and has for some time. And the Jets, after a pretty sad first-round flameout are eager to make some changes, and probably want to keep a large chunk of the $25 mildo in space they have for Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor and maybe some new blood. Something is amiss up there (it’s behind the bench but they seem determined to ignore that), and the Jets will try and address it. They very well may start with clearing out a malcontent.

So the next question is what is Jacob Trouba? Well, he’s big at 6-3, but he’s mobile as well. There is a snarl to his game, or there can be. He took the hard shifts, along with Josh Morrissey, for the past few years, freeing up Dustin Byfuglien to do whatever it is he does, when he could be bothered to be healthy and not straining himself at Timbo’s. The last three years, Trouba has started about half of his shifts in the defensive zone

So with the unsheltered zone starts and the toughest competition, it puts something of a thin layer of gloss to his generally team-rate metrics. Trouba has always been just a tick ahead of the team rate when it comes to attempts and expected goals, and is just a year removed from a dominant year in expected goals relative to the rest of the Jets (+5.07).

Trouba is coming off something of an offensive explosion, setting a career-high in points with 50, 17 more than his previous high. Most of that can be attributed to far more power play time thanks to Byfuglien’s needing time with a wash cloth on a stick, and you can bank a lot of points on the man advantage simply being out there with Wheeler, Scheifele, and Laine. Clearly, Trouba wouldn’t get that here but he also wouldn’t be following a bunch of dolts on the power play either. Assuming he could get on it, which seems far fetched thanks to the presence of Messrs. Gustafsson, Keith, and Seabrook.

The other factor is that Trouba is right-handed, and balked in the past when the Jets tried to kick him over to the left side. The Hawks seem to be collecting right-shooting d-men, and just on the team next year you’d have Seabrook, Jokiharju, and Murphy. The latter two have shown they can play the left side if need be, but one wonders how much you want to go to that well.

Still, something seemed off with Trouba during the playoffs and most of the year. Maybe it was just the misery of the Jets, but at times when you’ve wanted him to dominate playoff games, it just hasn’t quite been there. That said, Trouba was excellent in the playoffs just a year ago when the Jets made their only run, so it’s in him, it’s just not always apparent.

Another question about Trouba is what kind of surcharge the Jets would slap on him to trade him within the division, and whether he is worth it. The Jets and Trouba clearly want to be done with each other, but there won’t be a shortage of suitors and the Jets would almost certainly prefer to get him somewhere where they don’t have to deal with him five times a year. It doesn’t always work out that way, but clearly the Hawks offer would have to best the second-best one by a distance.

What the Jets would be looking for is another question. They don’t really need another forward, though it probably can’t hurt. Trouba’s absence would have to be accounted for, especially as Byfuglien is getting fucking old. Selling them on just the Hawks defensive prospects is a stretch to be sure. Perhaps you could sell them on Gustafsson’s ridiculously low contract for a year and insurance that they would have a PP QB whenever Buff pulls another section of fat. But the Hawks seem to treat Gus like he’s found gold or that check that Ricky Henderson framed instead of depositing.

The bottom line is that Trouba is an improvement on what the Hawks have, and by a distance. He’s idealized Murphy, in that he’s not a puck-mover per se but he’s also not simply a road grater. He can get your team up the ice through passing and breaking up plays instead of his feet, but you’d want to pair him with another mobile d-man who can use his feet on the other side. The Hawks don’t have that right now, though they probably think it’s still Keith if just in the right spot.

It’s hard to believe but Trouba is still only 25, so some sort of long-term commitment is unlikely to bite you in the ass until very well down the road. He’s not everything the Hawks need, but he’s a lot of it. The problem is the Jets are going to be asking for the moon and they just might get it. Saad and a prospect and a second-round pick might not even be enough, and I can’t see the Hawks wanting to go much further than that. Especially as the Jets don’t really need Saad and the prospect almost certainly wouldn’t help them this year and the Jets are very much in their window.

It’s a long-shot, but one worth considering.

Everything Else

Perhaps it’s a good thing, at least for him, that Stan Bowman has become a master in saying nothing. Because if he were honest or forthcoming about the position he finds himself in, we all might understand just what a difficult spot he’s in at the moment.

Obviously, everything hinges on Corey Crawford, and there isn’t much Stan can do about that. But if he were to come out and say publicly they don’t have any idea when and if Crawford is going to play again, then whatever calls he’s making for even a backup goalie suddenly get a lot tougher. Whether that’s Darling, or maybe a call on Grubauer, or whatever other idea he might have, everyone is going to know that he’s looking for someone who can step in as a starter if need be, not just a backup.

But it runs deeper than that. A theme of Stan’s press conference yesterday was that he wasn’t going all-in on this season, wanting to build for as much down the road as this season. That hasn’t stopped us from pointing out that if the Hawks don’t massively rebound this year, the long-term isn’t going to matter for him because Stan’s not going to have a job, at least not here.

But there’s a two-pronged problem with that. One, even if Stan went all-in on this season, where does that leave him? What’s a successful season for the Hawks next year? Second round of the playoffs? When you’ve won three playoff games in three years that’s a pretty big step, but is it enough for McD and Rocky? A valiant defeat to Nashville or Winnipeg there? Because it’s unlikely there’s any amount of moves the Hawks can make this summer where you’d go into next season saying they’d be favored over either of those teams. The Hawks can overhaul Minnesota, St. Louis, Colorado and Dallas, but those two remain ahead of the rest of the pack.

So say you do all that, but in the process you lose…oh I don’t know, Jokiharju and/or Sikura and maybe one or two others in pursuit of the defenseman and forward you need and more, without giving up anything major on the NHL roster. Where are you for ’19-’20? Is it likely with “THE CORE” another year older that you can improve without a pipeline of kids aiding them? Would you have to keep being active in free agency after you’ve used all the powder in your system? Would you have just put off your firing one season? Any free agent you sign is likely to skew older as well. Justin Faulk is a good age, but he’s not turning it around on his own.

Secondly, Stan might be gun-shy on any “win now” moves, considering how his coach has handled them in the recent past. Go back all the way to the Vermette trade. It took until Game 4 of the conference final before Q bought into Vermette, who cost a pretty penny. The following season, Stan brought in Ladd, Weise, and Fleischmann. The latter two were discarded essentially by the time the playoffs rolled around, and Ladd didn’t have much to offer. Those trades cost picks and Phillip Danault, and man would Danault look nice about now.

Connor Murphy was a move for now and later, and spent most of the season having his coach shit on him like he was Roman Reigns (WRESTLING REFERENCE). Alex DeBrincat, certainly one for the future but definitely a help now, spent way too much of the season on a third line and on the right side.

So if you’re Stan, are you truly confident any big move you make is going to be deployed properly? Because if they aren’t, then you have to fire the coach in the middle of the season. Does Stan draw enough water to do that? Who’s more important to the higher-ups, Stan or Q? Does he already know he doesn’t? Do we know? Does Stan have a Plan B in case he does get to make that move? Would Jeremy Colliton be ready? And as a GM if you pull the trigger on a coaching change, your neck is now exposed. If it doesn’t turn things around, you and the coach you hired are out on your ass come the summer.

It seems Stan knows that whatever moves he makes specifically for next season, he can’t completely lose what’s after that, even if he’s not around for it. Because this roster is going to need to be augmented, fed, freshened by kids through the system each of the next two, three, four years to maintain and eventually replace THE CORE.

With Tavares looking likely to stay put, the one-and-done answer in free agency isn’t there. Anything else is subject to usage, which hasn’t always gone Stan’s way. We’ve said it wouldn’t make sense to fire a GM and not a coach midseason, because an interim GM can’t change much midseason. But not everything with the Hawks management has made sense, despite what their success says. They apparently gave the reins fully to Stan last summer, and then they missed the playoffs. Is he still as trusted? Or are Q and his allies getting their influence back?

We’ll know soon enough.

Everything Else

It feels like Stan Bowman is going to have another “June 23rd” in the coming week. That was the day last year when he went more aggressive than we’d seen before, some might say he went “a little funny in the head,” and shipped out Artemi Panarin and Niklas Hjalmarsson (hilariously not telling his coach) for Brandon Saad and Connor Murphy. We’ve already been down the road on whether these were good trades or not, so we don’t have to do that again right now.

What’s clear is that Stan knows the temperature under his office chair is getting turned up, and Rocky Wirtz going “Kiss Of Death” after his flavorless Manhattan of a season in Crain’s made that abundantly clear, as well as John McDonough stomping around the Hawks offices like Dracula and Miranda Priestly’s lovechild.

So earlier in the week we talked about Justin Faulk, as that’s been the big rumor. Yesterday, the Sun-Times’s Mark Lazerus (closer than you know…love each other so…Mark Lazerus) put forth a rumor that Faulk might cost the Hawks one Brandon Saad. When reading that for all of us here, we cringe a bit, mostly because we love Saad and mostly because we feel that trading him after this season would A) be selling low and B) evidence that the Hawks don’t really have any sort of plan.

And yet, when you begin to think about it, this might make more sense. While Faulk didn’t have his best year last year, that kind of return for Saad certainly wouldn’t be selling low, per se. As previously stated, the Hawks don’t have a lot of pieces. While we dream about centering a deal around Artem Anisimov, fooling some GM with his goal totals and size for the far too many GMs who are still concerned about that sort of thing, it’s unlikely. The Hawks simply can’t lose Schmaltz, because they don’t have much depth down the middle. DeBrincat is almost certainly untouchable, given that he could very well be a 35-goal scorer if deployed properly. To give you some idea how valuable that is, there were only seven 35-goal scorers in the league this year. Dylan Sikura wouldn’t have much value, one would think. Below the main roster, it’s hard to see what else the Hawks can throw at a team. There’s no surefire prospect, though we’ll get to Jokiharju in a second.

Still, the loss of Saad makes the Hawks look awfully short at forward. You have….this?

– Toews – Hinostroza?

DeBrincat – Schmaltz – Kane

Sikura – Anisimov/Ejdsell – Duclair?

Jurco – Anisimov/Ejdsell – DUHHHHHH?

No offense, but I’m not going to make plans for that team in May. I guess this is the balance. Toss in David Kampf and an almost certainly returning Tommy Wingels (it’s a name, not a condition) and you’re still not inspired to write poetry about it. If the Hawks had another kid you were confident could step in to a top six role, you’d be more comfortable losing Saad, but he doesn’t exist yet.

You could argue the Hawks should just load the top line and let the rest fall where it may and have Top Cat, Toews, and Kane up there and just pray they jump into hyperspace, and maybe that’s the plan. I guess I can live with a second line of Sikura-Schmaltz-Hinostroza… I just won’t live comfortably. Or happily. Or healthily.

Which brings us around to Henri Jokiharju, who signed his entry-level deal yesterday. Now, normally, I would bet pretty good money the Hawks bring him to camp, throw him out in a couple preseason games, and then punt him back to Portland for his last year in the WHL. But this is not a normal time, and both Q and Stan might have to get outside their comfort zone here.

Yes, Jokiharju is only 19. But his numbers compare favorably with Mikhail Sergachev, who played a role on the best regular season team in the league. And Jokiharju did it in the WHL, which is a much tougher scoring environment than the OHL where Sergachev was. He also squares with Ivan Provorov, who has been the Flyers best d-man the past two years (and don’t give me any Ghost Bear bullshit).

Basically, what I’m saying is the Hawks are desperate, and it may come to toss Jokiharju in the deep end and leave with it. That doesn’t mean pairing him with Keith, but a heavily sheltered role with Murphy on his off-side or Dahlstrom or something I haven’t thought of and see where you are after 40 games. If he plays his way up the lineup, even better. But even at his tender age, he almost certainly can give you something in the same usage that Sergachev provided, assuming that Quenneville wouldn’t turn psychedelic purple at the thought of using a d-man who isn’t 20 yet. He did it before with Leddy…though we all know how that went at first.

While Stan might say something about “development,” he isn’t going to be here for the end of Jokiharju’s apprenticeship at lower levels if the Hawks don’t turn it around.

It would take quite the set of tires to pin that much on Jokiharju before he’s ever played professionally, but if the Hawks sold out on him in their minds they might consider cheaper additions on the blue line, like de Haan or Hickey from the Islanders or whatever they could fashion out of Anisimov (which is clearly Nurse from Edmonton because Peter Chiarelli would totally do that) and keep Saad around.

It’s not going to be boring.

Everything Else

Alex Ovechkin had barely gotten the Chalice over his head before we got some pretty tasty rumors about the Westside Club de Hockey. And they certainly bring some excitement and questions, and there’s nothing we love than the two of those together.

So let’s start with Scott Powers, who hasn’t been alone in reporting that the Hawks have called the Carolina Hurricanes about Justin Faulk and Scott Darling. Elliote Friedman was also in on rumors that Darling could beat a hasty retreat to his beloved land of beef and deep dish. There’s some smoke here, so let’s talk about the fire (YOU’LL JUST HAVE TO IMAGINE THE FIRE…). Faulk is easy enough so let’s do that second.

The possibility of bringing Scott Darling home would simply have to mean that at best, the Hawks have no idea when Corey Crawford is going to be ready to play again, or if. The worst case is they know he won’t anytime soon…or again. If the Hawks are looking not just for a quality backup, but one that can step in and take the starting role and do a passable impression, then you know something is up with Crow. And if it’s Darling they’re talking about, that’s $4.1 million worth of goaltender you’d be bringing in and you wouldn’t be bringing in that kind of number to merely be a backstop.

Now, if you’re sitting there wondering to yourself, “Darling didn’t kind of blow his chance at being a starter?” well, I won’t necessarily tell you you’re wrong. What I will say is the Carolina doesn’t do any of its goaltenders any favors with the way they played, and Darling was never the type you’d want to perform miracles night after night. That said, unless they completely overhaul the defense, including mailing Brent Seabrook to Zanzibar with Jordan Oesterle or something, it’s highly unlikely the Hawks are going to be all that defensively sound either. And given how the forwards shake out, the Hawks might have to play an even more up-tempo style to match what the Penguins or Knights or Preds do. Which means you need more circus acts from your goalie, which is what got the Canes in this hole in the first place. Duncan Keith isn’t going to rediscover Norris form next year, though he can still be good. Erik Gustafsson is still not going to be able to spell “defense.” Whatever Forsling improves, it’s still going to be a learning curve.

The other nugget here is that Friedman suggests Darling could be had for Marian Hossa’s contract. Which…I mean I guess? The appeal for the Canes is that though they would gain about a million and a half in cap hit, in actual dollars they’d spend three million less given that Hossa’s salary is only $1 million. And I mean…sure? If they’re that desperate to lose Darling, but we’re still talking about a goalie who’s only had one bad season and I don’t know that there are many alternatives out there for them.

One would be Phillip Grubauer, but he could be a cheaper alternative for the Hawks as well, at least in terms of dollars. But the Caps would want actual assets in return for a promising goaltender who had a wonderful regular season and is just 26. He’s also RFA, so he that might lessen the assets needed to get him and also makes his salary cheaper. But Grubauer is going to want to at least have a chance to compete to start, and if Crow is ever going to play again (and this is how we should really start framing the discussion) he’s still going to slide right back into being the #1. But, as said, Grubauer is restricted so you can sign him for two years or whatever and tell him to just wait it out. And given when those two years are up Crow would be 35, perhaps he’s ready to take over then. But again, it’s a thin goalie market, and there will be plenty of teams calling about Grubs, which will only drive the price up.

As for Faulk, well, we’ve only been screaming for the Hawks to get him for like five years now. He might not solve everything but he solves a ton. He’s a right-handed puck mover you could play with Keith, or Murphy on his off-side, or Dahlstrom, or some other combos. He’s a real live power play QB and not one play-acting at it like Keith. He’s sound defensively as well. You could already see pairing him with Keith, leaving Murphy and Gustafsson to be ya-ha time on the second pairing and leaving Seabrook on a third pairing where he actually can still be useful given the right partner.

Of course, you can’t just HAVE Justin Faulk. The Canes are looking to cash in on this, and distressingly Powers says in his article the Hawks won’t move the #8 pick. WELL WHY THE FUCK NOT?! By the time whoever they take at #8 (it’s so going to be Tkachuk’s asshole son, the second one) is actually ready to contribute at the NHL level, everyone very well might be out of a job. While planning for the long term is nice in your life and maybe even mine (never tried it), this team doesn’t have a long-term. Two seasons from now when everyone is in their mid-30s or worse they’re going to suck and suck hard, and no amount of clever drafting is going to prevent that unless they really get some somewhere-over-the-rainbow luck happening. The #8 pick alone isn’t going to get you Faulk, but it might take the place of a body you don’t want to give up. I’m sure the names on Carolina’s list start with “Schmaltz, DeBrincat, and maybe even Sikura.” Anisimov isn’t going to get it done either, though man that would be wonderful.

I suppose if I squint you could justify losing Schmaltz if you thought Ejdsell was ready for primetime now, and if you thought Quenneville could disabuse himself from the notion that Anisimov is a #2 center in the Western Conference. Those seem like big, motherfuckin’ ifs.

But hey, at least the kettle is percolating over on Madison. We’ll see what the construction workers yelling at McDonough want.

Everything Else

The NHL offseason has basically become pretty much every fan laughing at the stupid decisions of GMs across the league, and fans of those teams those GMs preside over trying to sell themselves on others that they weren’t THAT stupid. Some of that has reached these pastures, and maybe some of it is deserved.

It seems to me that possibly every NHL GM just hasn’t figured out how ruthless you have to be in this hard cap. Or maybe they know it, and just can’t bring themselves to do it. Or maybe mechanizations within the organization haven’t allowed them to do so. I think that’s what we’re seeing here with the Hawks and Stan Bowman.

While the Penguins will be used as the model, it’s probably important to remember their three Cups and four finals span three coaches and two GMs. So Jim Rutherford could have looked at the roster he got from Ray Shero and not feel the same attachments. And the Penguins roster from their first champion to the second and third only retains three and a half important elements in Crosby, Malkin, Letang, and Fleury if you want to count him, though he wasn’t supposed to be involved at all for the last two.

Everything Else

We’ve had some fun here the past couple months, leaving the Hawks in the background for the most part while they study and fidget about what to do to reclaim what they once felt was theirs. Obviously there’s not much you can do once your punted from the playoffs except have a press conference where you express just how angry you are and promise changes. Then you go back into the offices and realize you’re pretty much boned but thank your lucky stars you didn’t say that in public.

So we don’t have much to work with yet, and the answers probably don’t start really arriving until next week when the expansion draft, which for some inane reason is woven into the NHL Awards, takes place. But that won’t stop us from guessing!