We tune it up for real now. The Hawks have picked their roster that will head into the regular season…..for at least one or two games. Remember, it’s not been beyond Q and Stan to change things early. And considering the moving parts the Hawks have, we should expect all of those who lasted until the last cut to get a look at some point. They might all get one before October is even out. So chin up there, J-Mo, Pirri, and one or two others.
Now that the roster is set, let’s pick through the decisions that were made.
-The upset was that Joakim Nordstrom will skate out on Tuesday with the big club, which I don’t think anyone saw coming when camp started. It’s always slightly easier for an energy player to make a splash and carve out a spot on the 4th line, but Nordstrom wasn’t the pick of most.
Like everyone else, I’ve liked what I’ve seen. Fearless, quick, looks like a player who can help keep the puck in the other end which is all you ask of a 4th line. But I wouldn’t get those #42 jerseys just yet. I remember Pirri making the team two seasons ago out of camp and getting all of one game.
The other thing to watch is that Nordstrom is only 21 and has played 11 games on this continent that count, those being last year in the AHL after his Swedish season ended. If he’s here he really needs to play. While the Hawks are no longer in the business of development, it would be kind of a waste to just have him in the pressbox every game. But a 4th line of Smith-Shaw-Nordstrom would be extremely annoying to play against. Nordstrom also will get a look on the kill, which should save a top-sixer the duty if he sticks around. As we’re all interested in conserving minutes for the big guns, that’s a good thing.
That is of course, until he sits for Bollig.
-While some expected a rant after Pirri was sent down, you’ll not get one for two reasons. One, I’m trying to be more calm about these things this season and keep in mind the season is six months long and just about everything will happen. Two, I’m pretty sure Pirri will get his chance and early in the season as well, whether through injury to others or just experimentation.
What is obvious is he’s going to have to overcome a distaste that Q has for him. From the summer on it was clear Q didn’t rate him very highly, no matter the pimping from Stan Bowman. You get why. Pirri’s skating is still on the lackluster side, which doesn’t help his already-shady defensive work (though he really is making an effort there). Q is at least comfortable in the knowledge that Shaw, Kruger, Smith, and Handzus will put in their shift in their own end (partly because Zus can’t really skate to the other one in time).
But I still want to see Pirri at some point, because what is obvious in admittedly limited viewings is that he’s got playmaking vision. He makes things happen with his passing. And really, how many pure pass-first playmakers do the Hawks have? Humpty Hump (Kane) and then…..? Kruger hasn’t really demonstrated that, Handzus can at times but not consistently, and I think that’s the whole list. I’m eager to see if Pirri can stick and what he would bring out of Hossa and Sharp, who would figure to thrive with someone looking to get them the puck at every opportunity.
It’s also a worry just how much Q plans to push Handzus, which we’ve gone over before. Playing him at #2C Tuesday won’t be an indication. If he’s still there by the Circus Trip? Well…..
-On the back end, it’s obvious that Quenneville has taken a shine to Michael Kostka, to the point where I’m wondering if he isn’t going to be #7B with Brookbank #7A on the blue line. We know Rozsival won’t make the post every game, and if he looks anything like he did last night you wouldn’t want him to anyway. Kostka skates better than Brookbank and has better hands as well. But if you’re replacing Rozie in the lineup it means you’re skating with Leddy or Oduya, which requires more of a center fielder type. Don’t know if Kostka can be that. But he definitely can get you out of a game or two, which is what you ask of a #8 d-man when injuries hit. Doesn’t have to star, just can’t get you killed.