Hockey

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Game Time: 9:30PM CDT
TV/Radio: NBC Sports Chicago, NBCSN, TVA-S, SportsNet, WGN-AM 720
Indecent Proposal:  SinBinKnights On Ice

While at face value, Game 4’s preview could qualify as a textbook motherfuck with the fates aligning to subject the general public to another game in this series, it has also been reiterated numerous times that it was going to take something truly weird for the Hawks to even push it to this point, and this indeed what happened. So, as usual, once again we are right in our analysis.

Hockey

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Game Time: 7:00PM CDT
TV/Radio: NBC, CBC, SportsNet, WGN-AM 720
Where’s All The Stolen Liquor, Danny Ocean? Did You Hide It Up Your Butt?: SinBinKnights On Ice

With the series now “shifting” to the Hawks having home ice tonight and tomorrow, it offers them a chance to claw back into the series after going down two games to none on Thursday night, squandering an opportunity after forcing overtime against the much faster Knights. This of course, operates under the assumption that the Blackhawks have a competent coach who will utilize his ability to free up his top players with last change, which they absolutely do not have.

Hockey

Well, the Hawks have a FOR REAL first round opponent after Vegas knocked off the Avs in OT earlier this afternoon for the privilege of now getting to play the lowest remaining seed as the Stanley Cup Playoffs now begin in earnest. There is no schedule set yet for the series, but we’ll try to get in as much preview as possible for the matchup ahead, which really it could not have been any other way now that Robin Lehner is in Vegas. But this isn’t the goalie preview. This is the forwards preview, complete with the first of several hundred thousand Killers references, and Vegas is obviously considerably deeper than the Oilers were with another very matchy-uppy if boring coach in Peter DeBoer (yeah, he’s here now).

Hockey

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RECORDS: Hawks 12-12-6   Knights 15-12-5

PUCK DROP: 9pm

TV: NBCSN Chicago

DIAMONDS AND DUST: SinBin Vegas

You most certainly don’t feel like it, but if the Hawks were to get a point out of this one, and they only just got their first two points ever in Vegas in four tries last month, they would have something of a points-streak. I don’t know if four games count as a “streak,” but these days we have to take what we can get. And it’s going to take an extended one if the Hawks are going to leap all the teams they need to get into the playoff discussion. They’ll start the desert swing tonight before wrapping up this small road trip in St. Louis, which is only a desert of the mind.

They’ll find a Knights team that isn’t quite having its own way as it had in its first two years. They hold the last wildcard spot at the moment, but somehow find themselves trailing both the Coyotes and the Oilers by five points. They won’t expect either of those teams to hold up, and you’d think when those bubbles burst the Knights will be there to pick up the pieces and go home. It’s still the smart money.

In some ways, the Knights are the opposite of the Hawks. They do all their good work between the goal lines, but when it comes to making it count on either end they’ve been a little shy. They rank in the bottom 10 in both shooting-percentage and save-percentage, which kind of undoes their top-1o standing in both Corsi and expected goals percentage. Whereas the Hawks can’t do any of that in-between shit but do get saves and do get goals because they have experts on that at both ends.

It would be easy to point to the aging Marc-Andre Fleury and think that’s the problem, but only his injuries have been a problem. The real issue is the Knights don’t have a representative backup. Malcolm Subban has been thoroughly mediocre, with a .901 and the sub-.500 record he and the team has when he starts. Fleury has bee fine, but has missed the past couple weeks. Luckily for the Hawks, he returns tonight.

At the other end, the Knights just haven’t made their chances count even if they get more of them. The days of Max Pacioretty being amongst the league’s best marksmen are probably past. Mark Stone never was. Wild Bill Karlsson was never going to match the 25% shooting-percentage of two years ago. Marchessault and Smith haven’t really made up the difference while also doing just enough. It’s likely the Knights won’t have a 30-goal scorer, but might end up with six or seven 20-goal ones. But if Smith or Patches or Marchessault catch fire for a month, they will most likely rocket up the standings.

It’s still the lightning quick squad that has been a nightmare for the Hawks for most of their meetings. Get it out, get it up, get it the fuck up there as quick as possible is always the plan with the Knights so they can get their forwards in space. And their defense, thanks to Nate Schmidt and Shea Theodore mostly, is just mobile enough to give themselves just enough time to do so, whether it’s one pass or off the glass or chipped out to the red line. When it’s on song it can be impossible to live with, but you also need to make those things count by actually finishing, which has been something of a struggle so far this year.

To the Hawks, who will start Corey Crawford tonight. Adam Boqvist is up, and is the only Hawks d-man who can play at the Knights’ speed. Where he’ll play hasn’t been determined yet, or if he’ll play at all. It’s likely he’s in for Koekkoek while everyone still worships at the altar of Dennis Gilbert. And he is likely to get very exposed tonight, chasing hits he won’t come within five feet of as the Knights forwards gleefully sprint into the space he vacates. The rest of the lineup should remain the same.

The Hawks have gotten three of four points available against Vegas so far this year, which seems a miracle given what we saw the first two years. Without Keith and this plodding blue line, you really don’t look forward to this one much. But the Hawks can’t afford to deem any game beyond them if they’re serious about playing games that matter later on in the season. So they’ll have to be quick with the puck, no 17-pass breakouts, and perhaps collapsing a bit more to their crease instead of chasing forwards they can’t catch all over their zone would be helpful.

Off we go.

Everything Else

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SCHEDULE

Game 1 in San Jose tonight, 9:30

Game 2 in San Jose Friday, 9:30

Game 3 in Vegas Sunday, 9pm

Game 4 in Vegas Tuesday, 9:30

I suppose I should stand my ground, as I’ve believed in the Sharks all season, until their late-season pants-filling without Erik Karlsson. The fact that they finished where they did and their metrics are where they are despite having the worst goaltending in the league is a testament to how good they actually are. All they need really is league-average goaltending and not only would they come out of the West, they’d probably amble or mosey out of it. And yet the universe seems intent on shoving the Knights down our throats even though it took their GM less than two seasons to completely bork a blank cap situation and no one cares. Mark Stone showed up, everyone lost their mud, and he scored at a 22-goal, 50-point pace, which is fine, except it’s not fine  for the $9.5 MILLION DOLLARS HE’S GOING TO GET PER SEASON WHY AM I THE ONLY ONE FLABBERGASTED I MUST BE ON THE WRONG DRUGS!!!

But Stone’s contract doesn’t have much bearing on this series. His play does. And boy does this seem a nightmare for the Sharks, and could potentially swing the direction of the entire organization.

Goalies: Before we get to the disaster that is the Sharks’ net, Marc-Andre Fleury is reasons 1-4 the Knights made it to the Final last year. While some want to attribute it to magic dust or a genius front office or a secret style of playing or Ryan Fucking Reaves, just about any thrown-together bunch of fuckwits can win a series or three when their goalie is going .945, as Fleury did in the first three rounds. When he stopped doing that, you’ll notice the Caps dispatched them tout suite.

Fleury was a tick above league average, with spotty health all season. He was marvelous in five March starts, and bad in three April starts, so current form is hard to diagnose. Fleury’s playoff pedigree is also hard to figure, as there’s just as much buffoonery as there has been brilliance. If anyone thinks he’s a sure bet just because of the last two seasons, you’re not paying much attention. It would not be a shock if he’s terrible. He was just a short time ago February.

That still makes him a better bet than Martin Jones, who was just woeful this year. The Sharks had the worst goaltending at evens this year, and in fact were the only team lower than .900. You can’t roll into the playoffs with that and expect to do much. If there’s any silver lining, it’s that Jones’s playoff pedigree is rather strong. In three tries with the Sharks he’s at .926 over 42 games. At 29, he really shouldn’t be in a career abyss. Maybe the fresh start of the playoffs lets him reset everything mentally. That’s the only thing the Sharks can be counting on right now.

Defense: You’ll never get me to buy into the Vegas defense. But I’ll also readily admit they basically take them out of the equation, by just asking them to get the puck up to the forwards as quickly as possible and not much else. They don’t get a ton of scoring from there but they don’t have to. And the forwards have the puck so much that they don’t have to do that much defending. But the Sharks have the puck a ton, too. And the more you’re asking Colin Miller and Brayden McNabb and Deryk Goddamn Engelland to do in their own end, the more likely it is they’ll turn back into the players we’re fairly sure they still are. Because I have to believe eventually things return to as they are, no matter how much of a fantasy land Vegas is of dreams and money and tits.

If Erik Karlsson is healthy, then the Sharks’ blue line is way better. He appeared for the last game and says he’s ready to go, but premature returns from a groin injury have sent him back to the darkness twice already this season. With him, the Sharks boast three pairs the Hawks would honestly kill for. Maybe Vlasic and Braun are a touch slow to deal with the speed of the Knights over a long series, but they know how to take the dungeon shifts. If they can keep the roof from leaking, Karlsson and Burns can get up in it. And they do the scoring the Vegas’s back end doesn’t. Yes, the Knights have four lines, but the Sharks are the rare team with three pairings. If anyone’s equipped…

Forwards: I still may be in denial or not “get it,” but there’s a reason the Knights are here again. They just have a lot of speed and depth. Wild Bill may have crashed back down to Earth, but it’s a real boon to have a second line of Stastny, Pacioretty, and Stone. The Ginger Ninja lurks on the third line with Alex Tuch, and somehow Bellemare and Reaves and whatever other jackass they punt out there come up with big goals. And there’s never a break in pace. It’s so much to deal with when it’s on song.

But again, if you sift through the mishegas, the Sharks have the same depth, but better. The Sharks boast six forwards with 55 points or more. The Knights have two. There are four 30-goal scorers in teal. The Knights don’t have one. They can annoy the piss out of you too with Meier and Sorensen. They could even match center depth by moving Pavelski back to the middle if they so choose. Nyquist performed at the same pace Stone did in Vegas and yet I didn’t see anyone erecting statues of him in their publications like they did with McPhee and Stone. Starting to get the impression the Sharks have better skaters?

Prediction: Last year’s series, after the 7-0 Game 1 in Vegas for the Knights, was pretty even. Fleury made a huge difference. The Knights are maybe better than they were last year, though without William Karlsson and Smith doing what they did maybe not? The Sharks definitely are. Jones could undo it all and they could be done in four. But the possibility of Fleury having a gasoline fight with him are higher than most think. But honestly, I’m tired of the Vegas story and I think the Sharks have just been twiddling their thumbs waiting for this. And once they snap into gear, everyone in the West should be awfully worried.

Sharks in six.

 

Everything Else

Perhaps it’s just sour grapes, and lord knows our vineyard is awash with those. But we were kind of surprised that the Vegas Golden Knights, in less than two years of existence, have become a cap-team. And hey, we guess you can’t argue with the results. A Cup final and what looks to be a chance at another deep run this spring. That’s what a cap team should do. Even if most of it is on the back of a resurgent Marc-Andre Fleury. Still, looking at some of these deals, and what else he might hand out soon, you can’t help but wonder if George McPhee didn’t cock this up royally. And if he doesn’t hamstring the Knights going forward from here.

Some of these contracts are a bit bewildering. Nate Schmidt will see his extension kick in next year at a cap-hit of $5.9M. And ok, fair, he’s 27 and in his prime. He’s also never bettered last year’s 38 points. He’s scoring at a higher pace this year, though won’t get to that thanks to his ridiculous suspension. But for $6 million a year? That’ll give him a higher cap-hit than Matt Niskanen, who has bettered Schmidt’s career-high in points twice and the Caps thought was more worth keeping than Schmidt was. And then promptly beat the Knights in the Final. It’s the same as Matt Dumba, who scored 50 points last year and was well on his way to doing so again before getting hurt this year. It’s more than Dougie Hamilton. Schmidt’s a nice player to have, but at that rate?

So ok, traded for Max Pacioretty. Fine, Knights needed a second line after last year’s foray. Signed him for four more years at the age of 30, and Patches has 12 goals. Sure, Paul Stastny has been hurt most of the year, but Pacioretty has scored without a center in Montreal before. And he only put up 17 goals last year (in 64 games). Was maybe taking a half of a season before committing the worst idea?

Shea Theodore is getting $5.2M for the next seven years. And yes, he’s only 23. Maybe a couple years in this looks a steal. Except he was coming out of his entry-level deal, and hasn’t shown to be that dynamic of a force out from the back yet. He’s good. Is he worth quite this?

Some of this is just matter of degrees. You want players like Schmidt and Theodore on your team. Pacioretty seemed a pretty decent risk given his track record. Stastny has always been injury-prone, but maybe you take that chance, even if he’s never really changed any team he’s been on drastically.

And yet with a completely blank slate, the Knights will only have about $11M in space after the season. And a good portion of that will have to go to William Karlsson. That should make for a fascinating negotiation. Karlsson is only on pace for about 25 goals or so, which is what he probably is long-term. But his 43-goal season of last year will still be prominent in the memory of his agent. He’s restricted, so will McPhee hold the line and try to keep him as close to the $5M per year he gets now? Or will he push that closer to $8 or $9M? Will that force out meaningful depth players like Pierre-Edouard Bellemare who is unrestricted and certainly looking for better than $1.4M? Oscar Lindberg? Good thing they’ll lose that David Clarkson money the summer after next season.

That’s what McPhee appears to be aiming for. In the summer of 2020, the Knights will have some $30M in space or more once Clarkson’s insurance policy goes away, and Nick Holden, Erik Haula, Cody Eakin, and Ryan Reaves come off the books. Maybe they’ll run at Taylor Hall to make up for the decaying Pacioretty at that point.

That’s the thing about the Knights. They’re not terribly young. Only Theodore and Alex Tuch look poised to be built around long-term. Marchessault is 28. Smith is 27. And if you think that lasts forever, just look at Pacioretty, who had a bigger resume than them before turning 30.

But hey, they made their splash. It was a much bigger one than anyone could have anticipated. Still, when you have no payroll whatsoever 18 months ago, and now this, one wonders how much longer the magic will last.

 

Game #47 Preview Suite

Preview

Spotlight

Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups & How Teams Were Built

Everything Else

Sinbin.vegas is your home for anything Knights. Ken Boehlke is at the heart of it. Follow him on Twitter @kenboehlke.

Last time we talked the Knights were still flickering on and off a bit.  Now they’ve won seven in a row, are a point behind the Flames. What’s been the difference?

The biggest difference has been getting players back in the lineup. It started with Nate Schmidt coming off the suspension, then Paul Stastny got back into the lineup, and then Max Pacioretty got fully healthy. As that happened they began to start playing more consistently and it’s continued even through this recent rash of injuries. They look a lot
like the team they did last year once again with a simplistic style of defending, a tenacious forecheck, and transition game that gives many teams nightmares.

Paul Stastny has recently returned from a long-term absence. How is he  fitting in?

Unbelievably well. He’s such a smart player that almost on every shift he does something that makes you say “Damn, Paul is good.” Playing with Alex Tuch has been a perfect match for Stastny as Tuch’s speed helps settle defenses into the zone and Stastny then picks them apart with his vision. Almost all of Brandon Pirri’s unbelievable run of success has come because of his linemates helping to set him up in great positions to score. Of course, you’ve got to score them, which Pirri has done, but that line has what I call the “homerun hitter feeling” which is that every single time they are out there you are expecting something big to happen. When a homerun hitter in baseball is absolutely smoking, he hits one out once every 10th or 11th at bat, which is a fairly low number when you consider everyone watching feels like it is coming every single AB. That’s how Stastny, Tuch, and Pirri/Pacioretty have felt and it’s a lot of fun to watch.

Still doesn’t seem to be clicking for Max Pacioretty. Two goals in his last three but only 12 on the year, and some of the worst metrics on the team. Anyone getting impatient?

He’s been in and out of the lineup with injuries which culminated in a nasty looking one that kept him out for a bit. Since he’s come back, he looks like a completely different guy. He looks faster, he’s around the puck more, he’s popping up in dangerous areas more often, he looks like Max Pacioretty. People were growing very impatient with him (at one
point I called for him to be healthy scratched), but when he came back I decided to completely throw out the first portion of the season, give him a fresh start, and try to re-judge him as a player. In the four games since he’s been back, he looks terrific. I expect great things from Pacioretty for the rest of the year… as long as he’s healthy.

Is Wild Bill Karlsson’s contract going to get straightened out? Seems
weird this hasn’t been resolved yet given how the Knights have generally
conducted business.

It’s such a tough contract because he’s playing in a role that could easily command $9-10 million but his history suggests paying him that much would be ludicrous. Everybody involved seems to be in this holding pattern basically just wanting to gather more information. Is he really a 30-40 goal scorer? Is he really a #1 center? Is he really a consistent Selke candidate? He’s played for a year and a half, and we kind of have answers to those questions, but the more he plays the clearer it gets
for each side. Nothing would surprise me in these negotiations. I can see him taking a five-year deal at $5 million AAV, and I can see him getting a seven-year deal at $8 million AAV. I could also see it being signed tomorrow and I could see it going to all the way arbitration again (technically he signed minutes before the hearing). Either way, I don’t think William Karlsson is going anywhere any time soon.

 

Game #47 Preview Suite

Preview

Spotlight

Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups & How Teams Were Built

Everything Else

We, or maybe just I, spent most of the season bitching about the Vegas Golden Knights, and specifically how stupid they made the league and really the nature of the sport look. Because they didn’t reinvent any wheel here, despite what some would like you to think. They just put together a bunch of fast players, got somewhat lucky when other teams overvalued complete stiffs and gave them useful parts instead, and then told them to get the fuck up the ice as fast as possible and score. And because hockey is decided on such tight margins, you only need a few bounces and a division made up of partially digested foodstuffs to suddenly find yourself with more than 100 points and in a Stanley Cup Final.

But really, the indictment wasn’t on the Knights but on the league that A.) couldn’t see what the Penguins had been doing the previous two years and replicate it and B.) fanbases and front offices who still can’t see how arbitrary all this can be.

It could very easily go sideways on the Knights, and it wouldn’t take too many of those bounces reversing themselves for it to do so. They’re not getting .927 from Fleury again. Wild Bill Karlsson is not shooting 25% again. Without Nate Schmidt, other teams might discover that this blue line actually sucks, though the Knights system and speed shelters it just about as well as any team can.

But they’re also buffeted against that better this year. And the division still requires golf shoes to wade through. We’re goin’ in…to Sin City…

2017-2018: 51-24-7 109 points  272 GF 228 GA  50.9 CF% 50.6 xGF% 8.3 SH% .921 SV%

Goalies: No reason to not run it back from last year, though handing Marc-Andre Fleury the contract extension they did is going to end up with everyone covered in expired pudding (does pudding expire? I can’t even remember the last time I had pudding, honestly. Do adults eat pudding? They do, right? How come I never do? Has it all gotten away from me?).

I know how it goes whenever I say something definitive, as the “Fels Motherfuck” is becoming Chicago lexicon right up there with “Zorich To Linebacker!” But there’s simply no way Flower gets back to a .927 SV% this year. We have 13 years of data to look at with him. His career-mark is .913. Last year’s spasm of godliness was a career-high by six points. Fleury put together back-to-back .920+ years in Pittsburgh in ’15 and ’16, but bottomed out in ’17 with a .908. What exactly he’ll put up this year is hard to pinpoint, so I’ll go safe and general and say it’s probably between his career mark of .913 and .920. Which is fine. Can the Knights do as much with just “fine” in net? Probably not. But they can still be good.

Fleury’s “Starry Season” masked the fact that the Knights also got highly competent work out of Malcolm Subban, both as a backup and when Fleury was hurt. And Subban had struggled in the AHL his last two seasons there, much less the NHL. He’s still only 24, and we know the learning curve for young goalies is steep and treacherous. Maybe last year is a glimpse of what he can be, but the Knights will not be wanting to turn too much over to him this season.

Defense: Whatever you think of Nate Schmidt’s suspension–and you think it’s ridiculous because it really is given his very plausible and backed-up defense–he’s gone for a quarter of the season. It’s a big miss. Which is weird to say, because we’re fairly sure he was never top-pairing quality, and yet he was in Vegas and they were a good defensive team.

So before delving any further into the Knights’ blue line, it’s important to remember how their system protects what is a unit that lacks talent. They aren’t asked to break themselves out of trouble. They barely have to pass. The defense is merely asked to get the puck out to the neutral zone for the forwards to skate onto. It can be the fly pattern or simply a chip off the glass. And because the forwards are so frenzied and make everything look like Smash TV, the Knights d-men aren’t in the d-zone all that much. Their forwards also help a ton on the backcheck. Because they have to.

Because when you look at a list of names like Colin Miller, Brayden McNabb, Shea Theodore, Deryk Engelland, and Nick Holden, we know everyone pretty much sucks aside from Theodore. And the sample size isn’t huge on him yet. They’re not even that quick. But again, the Knights ask of little of them as possible. So every piece of logic and evidence I have says it’s not a good blue line. But it also might not really matter. Fuck, the Penguins won two Cups with defensive corps that were just above mop-bucket residue. It’s kind of the way things are going.

Forwards: Let’s clear this up right now. Jesse Marchessault and William Karlsson are not combining for 150 points again or 70 goals. I just can’t believe that, because alone Karlsson is not going to shoot 25% again. Seriously, the dude had one of every four shots go in. In the past 10 years, only two players have managed more than one 20%+ shooting season, and they are Alex Tanguay (who somehow did it five times and I don’t know why we even bother trying to figure out this world) and Mike Ribeiro. Karlsson has a date with a Lady named “Regression” and she just ordered the lobster.

Marchessault could actually consider himself a touch unlucky, as even with his 27 goals last year he saw his SH% drop from 15% the year before to 10% last campaign. We’ll see what he is this year. The Knights are simply better supported though for any kind of sinking from the top line because the second line is Alex TuchPaul StastnyMax Pacioretty, which is probably their first line when all is said and done. That’s going to generate more scoring than Tuch-Doofus Du Jour-James Neal. Though with Stastny and Patches, it’s probably not as quick but if Neal found a home in this system, they’ll find a way to get something out of those two as well.

The bottom-six is still comprised of the hopped-up gnats it was last year like Erik HAULA!, Cody Eakin, Tomas Nosek, Oscar Lindberg, Ryan Carpenter, and because they have to give away at least one roster spot to galactic stupidity Ryan Reaves is here (please let Gerard Gallant use him with the goalie pulled again. I need as much mirth in my life as I can get right now). The names don’t do much for you but again, they’re all quick and they’re told to be quicker and most teams can’t live with it with their third-pairings.

Outlook: They’re not the Sharks. Regression is going to hit them in a few spots. But with that second-line and all the games they get against the other teams wandering the countryside with no particular plan or urgency, it’s hard to see them losing the 15-20 points that would make a playoff spot suddenly in jeopardy. Maybe Fleury falls completely apart. Maybe Subban can’t bail him out at all. Maybe Karlsson and Marchessault shoot like 7%. But those seem extreme. Second place seems like home, a comfortable 98-102 points. Who who else in the Pacific can you safely say gets there?

 

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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.