A Crowded Core?

Hammer

 

The Blackhawks took a 3-1 series lead over the Kings with an impressive road victory Thursday. It was a solid, collaborative display by the boys in white in front of a sold out Staples Center. Predictors stated that LA would feed off the home crowd and continue to be a greedy group and steal ALL the momentum. The Hawks didn’t care about a home winning streak of 15 and showed impressive resiliency over 60 minutes.

The Hawks knew they had to perform better than their previous effort and that would start with the Keith-less back end. Brookbank apparently was not up to the challenge but the top 4 of Seabrook, Hjalmarsson, Rozsival and Oduya played admirably in #2’s absence.

Now, on to my inspiration for this blog, Hjalmarsson. The media all recognized that this guy is a warrior and might have been the Hawks best defender last night. I wouldn’t argue. It also got me thinking that the “core” that the front office ever-so-often like to call out and list for all to see might be shifting with certain personnel.

Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Dave Bolland, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook were established after the 2010 Cup Winning Team was being dismantled, as the core. This group of character and skilled players would be the foundation to build around for years to come.

Well the times, they have changed… and very quickly. The emergence of Niklas Hjalmarsson has been fun to watch. I am now ashamed to admit I had him heading out of town for a lower line, gritty forward and a pick in my capgeek projections last summer.

It would be my advice to the front office to lock up Hammer to an extension as soon as that window appears. If this happens and the price tag per season is in the 4.5-5 million range, which it could be, I think that would spell the end of Brent Seabrook in Chicago.

With Brent Seabrook’s roller coaster season, in no way am I focusing solely on the bad with him this season in my analysis. I am looking at financial ramifications as well as future plans for this team. It is true that Seabs is one of the most physical defenceman, and his chemistry on and off the ice with Keith should be taken into account. However, the return for a Gold Medal, Stanley Cup winning, tough defender with an offensive touch would be a package someone like Philadelphia would be salivating over.

Hjalmarsson has shown that he can play top minutes and would be a welcomed addition to any team’s blueline who need a steady and calm presence from a young veteran such as him. The Hawks should not let that happen and make him a staple in the last line of defence for years to come.

I believe the new core will start to form in the short term. Obviously a lot is hinging on what happens here in June. This is the core I would want steering this ship (keep in mind the salary cap before ripping me):

-        Toews

-        Kane

-        Hossa

-        Sharp

-        Kruger

-        Shaw

-        Keith

-        Hjalmarsson

 

What’s yours?

 

Ty’s Tidbits

 

~ Patrick Kane showed up last night. Thanks Patty! While we’re on the subject of core players, I would suggest Kane might fall out of that group in the next season or so. His contract is up in 2016 and I would have a problem with him commanding more than his current $6.3M/season (which he and his agent obviously will). I think he will continue to grow as a regular season player but will always struggle to prove his worth in the playoffs. It’s not a secret that Kaner doesn’t like the horseplay that happens in the post-season and if he’s bailing out and unable to produce, then I wouldn’t bother.

~ For all this “Hossa buyout talk” at the end of the season, I would challenge you find a better overall player suited for playoff hockey. I would take an aging Hossa over Kane in his prime in the post-season. Hossa is a 200 foot player, extremely strong and will continue to come up big when you need him. Case in point, 5 of his 7 goals have come when the game is tied.

~ I think it’s safe to say that Dave Bolland has worked himself out of the core. It’s too bad because of his skillset. He was a prolific point machine in the OHL, all while Dale Hunter was showing him how to play a smart defensive game. He’s become too injury prone and failed to capitalize on his 2nd line centre duties in his time here in Chicago. He will become a valuable asset to someone and I think you see him traded at the draft. My guess? Montreal, Florida or Toronto.

 

 

Ty Cam Out!

 

 

* picture courtesy of Bridget DS

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About the Author: I am a rare Chicago Blackhawks fan from Canada, one might describe me as a hockey connoisseur and a solid checking line centre to your local rec hockey team. I once lived in a town of 500 people and now work in the hockey mecca that is Toronto. I work in the wonderful world of Advertising and these opinions are one of my own and not of my company - don't get it twisted.

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  1. New To Hockey says:

    I would think you should include Saad, especially on an ECL. No Leddy?

    • New To Hockey says:

      Or Bickell for that matter.

    • I’m not putting Saad into the core quite yet, but that’s not to say he’s not a part of their future.

      Leddy could definitely be on there.

      Is Bickell in your core at 4.5 million/year? He’s not at mine for an amount like that. Not after a couple slightly above average seasons and one great playoff run. I think you get into trouble throwing that kind of money at him.

      • New To Hockey says:

        I would expect him to sign for 3-3.5. Also, this is 3 years in a row he has turned it on in the playoffs. He was a beast against the Canucks in 2011 until the wrist injury. Last year, he was one of their better forwards once Q put him in the lineup. This year he has reached a new level, obviously.

        The down side is, like many power players, he doesn’t give 100% every night in the regular season. That’s understandable considering the wear and tear that would put on a body over 82 games.

  2. Waltoninator says:

    As usual Ty is a little delusional when it comes to the Hawks.

    He fails to realize Crawford is a core player he’s our guy now after this title.

    Also Bolland is my guy for better or for worse I hope we keep him. He’s a Hawk

    Kruger at the core…laughable, average player that who isn’t asked to do much…put a different player in that role and they would excel equally, whenever I see Kruger out there it’s truly a Nightmare

    • Ok, pump the brakes a little… let’s break this down.

      Crawford… say he wins “the title” and when his contract is up in June 2014 and asks for 5-6 million a la Jimmy Howard, do the Bowman’s give that to him? Not a chance.

      They didn’t have a problem letting Niemi go for nothing and they’ll have no problem doing that with Crawford if he’s asking the moon. They’ll continue to look for Antti’s in Finland and groom them in the background before paying a top tier tender that kind of doe.

      I like Bolland too but relegated to the 4th line and getting paid 3.4 million? Not good. If Bickell is to be even thought of being retained, a contract like Bolland has to move.

      Some people love Kruger, some don’t see his value. I think he is a very valuable player who’s only getting better. “Not asked to do much”? He’s the first one over the boards on an elite PK unit and plays 100% every shift. I know I can’t convince you otherwise, but he’s in my core any day! He’ll be resigned for about 1.3-1.5 per year for 2-3 years and be worth every penny in my eyes.

      • Waltoninator says:

        Marcus Kruger is -1 on a elite team and it’s not all his fault…bag of bones Q roles his 4th line over and over and over no matter what….whenever he plays his top guns we score

  3. dougmounter says:

    I agree with the blogger,

    Saad has been invisible through the entire playoffs. Hjalmarsson has been the best defenceman in the West final. Seabrook will fetch a fortune on the market, more valuable there than on the team as an overpaid 3rd D-man.

    Bickell..beware, he’s basically Dustin Penner, big forward who has a great playoff (2 in Pancakes’ case), he’ll never be worth what someone will pay him this summer…and he’s better than Penner, in general, save the cap space and let him go.

    I’m a Bolland fan, but I think Kruger can play that part, and cheaper…although he may not cause as many concussions to former Kitchener Rangers…

    • The Dustin Penner comparison when looking at Bickell is my biggest fear. With the cap going down… the Hawks cannot afford to have dead weight and he’s a lot of weight.

  4. Justin says:

    What would u be happy with as a package for Seabrook. . We would love to have him in philly..
    No way they buyout hossa he is beast with and without the puck.. love his game

    • How about B. Schenn as the main piece coming back? Maybe some high draft picks or good prospects as well?

      There’s not much else there that the Hawks could use. A lot of high contracts. Schenn could slide into their 2nd line C role.

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