Yesterday we picked through the wreckage of this season, so today it probably follows that we pivot and what’s ahead. At some point this summer, there’ll be talk of how much is left in the Hawks’ “window.” That’s up for debate and there are things that Stan can do to extend it, or also shorten it.
What is obvious to anyone who has read this blog this season for more than five minutes (other than the desire to talk about music or beer far more than hockey), is that the Hawks are going to be right back here in a year’s time if they don’t figure out their blue line problems. They can say a summer of rest will rejuvenate Keith, Hammer, and Seabrook but two of those guys are over 30 when next season rolls around and Hammer is approaching. The simplest and most obvious answer is they’re going to jam The Hill They Will Die On (TVR) into the second pairing again, but this is not an answer to any question anyone is asking.
There doesn’t appear to be much help in the system. Ville Pokka is probably the closest to ready after another full season in the AHL but he hasn’t shown to be anything more than Gustafsson II, from all reports. The pack of other Scandinavian d-men, Forsling, Dahlstrom, Norell, are at least a year away from seriously contributing to the NHL roster, and it was only a year ago that this regime soured on Dahlstrom to the point of punting him back to Sweden after a cameo in Rockford. So yeah, counting on any of this is not the way to go.
Free agency isn’t going to provide much relief, and that’s even if the Hawks had any money to play with which they likely won’t. You know where we stand, offering Brian Campbell a one or two-year deal slightly under below his market value at 37 would be a solid stop-gap to find and develop a long-term answer. However, this front office would cough up their own blood before they ever admit that Campbell was actually a good player, and Pat and Eddie would probably pass out trying to figure out which of 51 Phantom or Teuvo to lambaste on the broadcast.
Alex Goligoski has always been a second pairing d-man miscast as a first pairing one in Dallas, but we’ll probably be looking for $5 or $6 million per year and the Hawks just aren’t going to have it. He’s also not taking a one or two year deal. Dan Hamhuis is probably finished and doesn’t sound like he much wants to leave Vancouver anyway. JM Liles could happen but if the Hawks didn’t take a run at him at the deadline I can’t see where they would in free agency either. Tyson Barrie would solve just about everything, but the Hawks are in no position to make an offer sheet that would make the Avs choke and it’s not like offer sheets are a thing that happens anyway.
Which means a trade, which obviously means Seabrook and Teuvo for PK Subban. So good, we’ve solved that nice and easy.
In reality, a trade might be the only option, and seeing as how Pat and especially Eddie don’t ever march without orders (except about start times), you wonder if the constant berating of Teuvo doesn’t signal that he will be dangled to acquire said d-man. We know Stan knows this is the main problem area because of all the attempts he made to solve it this season with his hands tied. Teuvo is going to get a big raise after next season which might not fit in, and the Hawks have three other centers signed long term.
A word on Seabrook here. We joke about him being out of shape and sluggish, and he clearly has lost a step even though he was never actually a burner. But he shouldn’t be turning into Dan Girardi West right at 30 as he has the past year or two. While we’ll never know, I have to imagine part of his exit interview is a rigorous offseason training program to salvage whatever he might have left. If not, then the Hawks seriously need to look into getting him to waive his NTC because we’re about two years away from that being one of the worst contracts in the league and he might still have some Stanley Cup shine on him.
And this is the debate. Teuvo is the exact type of young, talented, cheap-ish option that extends a team’s championship window. It’s the kind of talent they’ve been eschewing at a faster and faster rate, with Danault and Dano both tossed overboard this season with the corresponding picks. Whatever return you get for Teuvo might improve your chances in the next year or two, but costs you on the back end. I’m not sure there is a right or wrong answer.
(Speaking of which, can we take a second to consider how monumentally stupid it would be if the reports are true that the Hawks don’t want to trade 2017’s 1st round pick because they’re hosting the draft? Giving up 1st rounder after 1st rounder is certainly how you bring a dynasty down, but if there’s a helpful piece out there that can put next year’s team over the top you’d pass it up so McD and Rocky can get their ovation at the draft? Let’s not pretend that’s not what it is)
At forward, whether Teuvo is flogged or not the Hawks will remain deep down the middle, which is a good starting point. However they have two holes on the wings in the top six, because it’s clear that Hossa is now a third liner to play with either Kruger or Teuvo. Perhaps Teuvo is used as a winger again and you can make up a fourth line center. I have a sneaking suspicion that one or both of Nick Schmaltz or Tyler Motte are going to break camp with the big club and get a look as Toews’s winger(s). Ryan Hartman is going to be involved somewhere, and if he can’t provide the scoring that Andrew Shaw did the past two years as a 1st round pick, then something is rotten in Denmark.
There’ll be talk of Andrew Shaw, but I don’t know how much you can get for an RFA who is unsigned. That’s why you generally should extend these guys if you can before they hit either free agency. My guess is he wouldn’t bring back much more than a pick or a comparable RFA who you’d have to sign for the same money that the Hawks just might not have.
As for that cap situation, the Hawks have $65.8 million tied up in 17 guys, meaning they’ll have to cram in five or six more for somewhere between $5-8 million, depending on where the cap lands. Let’s say Motte, Hinostroza, and Hartman take up three spots, that’s just about 2.5 mildo, so the Hawks would be at 68.3 million with 20 spots filled, probably leaving enough money to sign Shaw but leaving the defense right where it was. As we said, that’s just not going to work. So someone is going to have to go.
-More immediate concerns on this blog. For the rest of the playoffs we’re going to cover… well, the rest of the playoffs. I’ve found that player-by-player season reviews get awfully stale for both writer and reader, so we’re going to avoid that. When Hawks news comes up we’ll do it. When we have musings we’ll do it.
Longer term, there will be some changes around here in the summer and next season. The blog and Twitter aren’t going anywhere, at least not that I can see. However, the program might not be. No decisions have been made but at the moment I’m leaning to discontinuing that to concentrate on other things I’d like to do. Which means most of what went in the program will get dumped here, and perhaps for all 82 games but we’ll see how that goes. Second, comments will be reopened at some point this summer, and you’ll be alerted to that. Not sure when but we’ll get around to it. That is all. -The Management