The feedback from Blackhawk fans concerning the July 1 acquisitions is mixed. Some feel change was needed and the new arrivals will help their favorite club progress next season. Others believe the Hawks are now an older, slower team. Both sides have valid points.
Back on April 18, concerning the future direction of the Hawks I wrote….
Blackhawk management will first have to decide what style of game they want to play going forward. In my view the NHL is moving toward fewer penalties for interference as well as other infractions. That doesn’t help a non-physical, puck possession team.
So adding experienced players who are not as fast but more physical isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Although at this point the roster isn’t close to being set and the degree of adjustment concerning style of play is still unknown.
There are a couple of things which we can be sure about.
When Brian Campbell finally said uncle and approved his trade to the land of sunshine and bloated contracts, the Blackhawks would have to adjust. Campbell’s impact on a game really can’t be measured by points alone.
His skating ability, vision and passing helped the offense to flow. Many times Campbell started a play which led to a goal but couldn’t get credited with an assist. He also turned plays which helped the Hawks transition from defense to offense quickly.
The other issue created from Campbell’s departure is how playing time will be distributed among Hawk defensemen. Campbell played a lot of minutes and they won’t be easy to replace. It’s too early to tell what is possible but my plan would be as follows.
One way or the other the ice time for Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook has to stay below 25 minutes in many games.
Maybe Niklas Hjalmarsson and Nick Leddy log about 20 minutes a night while the third pairing gets around 15 minutes of ice time. Whomever the third pairing is they need to contribute so the top four can be effective late in the season and in the playoffs. Lastly Keith and Seabrook need some help on the penalty kill, the hard minutes take a toll.
There is an unclear picture because the unsigned Chris Campoli might not be back. Filtering through the ambiguity and flip flopping of general manager speak the Hawks did address a specific need.
For those who were concerned about the Blackhawks lacking veteran leadership, Stan Bowman has dealt with your concern.
The additions of Andrew Brunette, Jamal Mayers and Sean O’Donnell will fill that void. Those players know what it takes to prepare for battle and they haven’t been known to take nights off. Brett McLean has experience too but he may start the season in Rockford.
Brunette is a smart veteran and former captain who should be able to chip in with some offense. The Hawks needed a player to provide net presence and Brunette could pick up a few goals by standing his ground in the slot area.
Mayers is a sly pro who can play rough by not stupid. He had a good season last year with San Jose and can contribute when called upon. It remains to be seen how many games Mayers will play. But when given the opportunity he will know his role and should be an effective fourth line player.
O’Donnell will give young Leddy an experienced mentor. He can still play at the age of 39, soon to be 40, and isn’t afraid to drop the gloves. O’Donnell has been involved in 12 fights the past two seasons, eight more than Brent Seabrook. O’Donnell fights the big boys when called upon and most often wins. He provides stability on the blueline and doesn’t take any crap.
The Hawks also added Dan Carcillo to the mix, but I’m not sure why. While with the Phoenix Coyotes, Carcillo was an impressive agitator who could play some hockey. Unfortunately over the years Carcillo has not grown wiser.
Maybe under Joel Quenneville’s tutelage Carcillo will understand the bigger picture. Up until now Carcillo’s focus has been shaky.
About three few years ago I had a conversation with a Hawk tough guy who knew Carcillo. The impression he shared was Carcillo is a good guy but “crazy”. He said you never could be sure what Carcillo would do on the ice.
If Carcillo can play with an edge but not be stupid he could be used as a good example for Kyle Beach. If Carcillo stays as scattered and selfish then there is a bad example for Beach to learn from. Beach should realize he will never be a consistent NHL perfomer by not playing with discipline.
When the season ended Bowman commented on some players.
A few months ago it seemed like Ben Smith and Marcus Kruger had likely roster spots come this fall. Now with the new additions, Smith and Kruger could begin the season in Rockford which wouldn’t be terrible. In any event training camp should be interesting.
Two other Hawks which were talked about as if they would be in Chicago for years were Campoli and Michael Frolik and both are still unsigned. Hockey logic tells me Frolik has little bargaining power so his chances of remaining a Blackhawk are better than Campoli.
With all the bloated contracts signed recently, Bowman may not be comfortable with Campoli going to arbitration. Campoli filed for arbitration last year while with the Senators and his intentions for this summer will be known later today.
****Reported after the blog was posted….
Campoli has filed for salary arbitration.
There was one perquisite for Bowman in regards to acquiring players on July 1.
Every new Blackhawk was signed for only one season and that was by design.
I shared the likelihood of Dany Heatley being dealt on June 24, but there aren’t any reliable whispers on the Blackhawk front except about Ice Hog head coach Bill Peters.
From what I have heard Peters and only a couple of others are on Mike Babcock’s list to become assistant coaches in Detroit. Babcock has two openings and it has been mentioned he will likely announce his decision this week.
If Peters leaves for Detroit the Hawks will have to make a good choice for his replacement.
I can’t remember a time when the Hawks have had more highly rated prospects in their system. The importance of a good teacher in Rockford can’t be discounted.
Although there aren’t any solid trade rumors I can provide some speculation.
I get a strong feeling that somewhere now John Scott is being coached up to enhance his playing skills. Maybe Scott can become something he hasn’t been or possibly the Hawks are beginning to go into a different direction.
Maybe the reports on Scott aren’t promising. That could be why Mayers and Carcillo were both signed. If Campoli is resigned, including Scott the Hawks would have eight defenders.
If Steve Montador is the replacement for Campoli and Brent Sopel isn’t brought back the Hawks would have seven defenseman including Scott.
But Jordan Hendry has been the forgotten man and maybe Bowman has a Sopel contract already in his desk drawer.
O’Donnell played in 81 NHL games last season….He isn’t going to get shuffled to the AHL.
The point is the Hawk blue line could be overcrowded….Maybe Scott will be entertaining fans in Rockford rather than Chicago??
The Rangers haven’t made a big reactionary trade as a result of acquiring Brad Richards.
Richards signed for a lower cap hit than I thought, which could mean there is little chance of acquiring a good center in Brandon Dubinsky….But I won’t give up yet.
The Sabres have a couple of centers who may have to be moved….Paul Gaustad and Derick Roy. Buffalo is bumping the salary cap ceiling.
A player who I would like more if he was bigger is Oiler center, Sam Gagne.
The Hawks have added some size so bringing Gagne to Chicago to team up with old buddy Pat Kane might be a possiblity.
Gagne centered for Kane in London and those two would be fun to watch….As long as they wouldn’t be defensive liabilities.
Frolik has been the subject of some trade rumors….But the Hawks aren’t backed into a corner with him.
Frolik isn’t arbitration eligible but he is aware of all the fat contracts being given out around the league.
The Campoli and Frolik negotiations are probably sticky and might stay that way for awhile.
Maybe Bowman gets tired of the drama and…
Packages the rights to Frolik and Campoli to acquire a center??
Let’s not forget Viktor Stalberg….He hasn’t been chatted up by the Hawk front office.
Stalberg could be another candidate to be included in a trade package.
Stalberg has potential and might worth hanging onto for the right price.
I would feel much more optimistic about the new season if the Hawks can ice three scoring lines.
Acquiring another goal scorer could be the ticket….
The Hawks offense may not be as potent without Campbell and to a lesser extent Brouwer.
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