A lot has happened in Hawk nation over the past several weeks (and I imagine there will be quite a bit more coming) and I have some thoughts
Mayers and Oduya extensions
I know I’m late chiming in here, but like everything I need to give my two cents.
While most people were surprised by the Oduya re-signing, quite frankly I was caught off guard by both. As good as Mayers was last year (and I think he did a fantastic job in the role he was expected to fill) I was expecting the Hawks to leave his 4th line spot open for a prospect (possibly Jeremy Morin, Kyle Beach, Rob Flick or someone else) to have an opportunity to crack at the lineup.
So on that I’ll just say I’m not disappointed by the Mayers extension, just surprised. Truthfully, I don’t think it would have mattered one way or the other. If he gets outplayed in training camp, I don’t think the Hawks will hesitate to relegate him to a lesser role.
I was however extremely surprised by the re-signing of Oduya and frustrated at both the length and cap number, for a number of reasons. First off, Johnny Oduya is not a $3 million dollar defenseman. Were he a RFA and forced to go to arbitration, I would expect his cap number to fall somewhere between the $2.5 and $2.75 million range, considerably lower than the number agreed upon by Hawks management for his extension. This number could put unneeded pressure on the Hawks, especially if the cap goes down in the new CBA.
Second, Nick Leddy will require a contract extension next summer, most likely for a similar amount that Oduya just signed for. While he’s had his fair share of struggles so far in his career, Leddy’s skill, youth and potential make him a much more valuable player than Oduya and the Hawks should be prioritizing keeping him around long-term. That could be difficult with so much money already committed to defensemen.
Third, committing to another defenseman for the long-term means less opportunity for some of the Hawks’ talented defensive prospects (such as the recently signed Adam Clendening, as well as others such as Stephen Johns, Justin Holl or Klas Dahlbeck) and takes flexibility away from the Hawks management to make deals.
Now this is all assuming that both Niklas Hjalmarsson and Steve Montador are in Chicago next year (which many are speculating that at least one of them won’t be) If one or both of them goes and the Hawks make some other changes on defense, it will be a different situation. But if both Hjalmarsson and Montador are in the Hawks long-term plans, then the aforementioned problems could come to fruition. We’ll have to see how this all plays out.
Over the past few weeks the Hawks have been busy locking up some recent draft picks. Among those signed were forwards Rob Flick (4th round 2010) and Joakim Nordstrom (3rd round 2010), defensemen Klas Dahlbeck (3rd round 2011) and Adam Clendening (2nd round 2011) and goalies Mac Carruth (7th round 2010) and Kent Simpson (2nd round 2010)
While none of these players are necessarily considered “top prospects”, the names to watch in training camp in September are Rob Flick, Adam Clendening and Mac Carruth.
Rob Flick is a big, rugged forward who spent the majority of last season with the Rockford IceHogs on an AHL contract. Flick is an effective checker and agitator who can provide energy and will be competing for a 4th line role on the Hawks in camp.
Adam Clendening is coming off a strong sophmore season with Boston University and will likely play on Rockford’s blueline next season. He has a very similar game to Duncan Keith at that age, so its not surprise that the Hawks’ management will be monitoring his development very closely.
Mac Carruth had a very good season with the Portland Winterhawks, carrying them all the way to the WHL Conference Finals. His progress since being drafted has been remarkable and he should definitely be considered the Hawks top goaltending prospect.
There’s been a lot of rumblings about Kane’s status as a Blackhawk but right now most of it seems like nothing more than conjecture.One thing is for sure: Patrick Kane is no longer considered “untouchable”.
Sources close to the situation don’t seem to think the Hawks are actively shopping Kane, but they do feel that the Hawks wouldn’t be reluctant to have trade discussions about him. My guess is any offer for Kane would have to be mind-blowing for the Hawks to seriously consider it.
So it looks like we can expect 88 to wear the Indian head sweater next season. But I imagine he’s on very thin ice. Sources have indicated that there are more than a few people in the Hawks organization who flat out want Kane gone. Unless we see more maturity from Kane off the ice, as well as more production on the ice, this summer could be Kane’s last as a Blackhawk.
Ryan Suter a Blackhawk?
There’s been some talks about Ryan Suter signing in Chicago this season (John Jaeckel has done a fabulous job on HockeyBuzz.com of following that situation. If you don’t already read John’s stuff I highly recommend you check out his posts)
There’s more than one way to look at Suter coming to the Hawks. First, should he come? Absolutely. No question the Hawks could use the help on defense that Suter could provide on the second pairing. Heck, any team could. Your blueline can never be too good.
Second, could he come? Possibly. If a couple of shrewd moves are made, including moving Niklas Hjalmarsson and Michael Frolik would open up over $5.8 million and would provide sufficient cap space to sign Suter to a long-term deal, regardless of what happens with the cap under the new CBA.
Lastly, will he come? Probably not. Sources indicate that the Hawks are pretty much staying the course and don’t plan on making any radical changes or commit to any more players long-term. Throw in the fact that Oduya has resigned and it looks like the Hawks are, or are close to, being happy with their defense. That doesn’t mean the team won’t improve, it just means I wouldn’t expect a guy like Suter to land in Chicago. And that’s probably not a terrible thing. If the Blackhawks truly want to upgrade their defense there are cheaper options, such as Matt Carle, Jason Garrison, Dennis Wideman and others, who are reliable top four defenseman.
The draft is my favorite hockey day of the year. July 1st is okay and the Trade Deadline is just overrated, but the draft is where all the really big action is nowadays, not to mention we get to see where some of the stars of tomorrow will start their careers. Mock drafts are always a blast, as are coming up with fun trade scenarios. Simply put, the draft is a blast and I put a lot of time into getting ready for it.
That’s why over the next few weeks I’m going to be doing some pre-draft previews of players the Hawks should consider taking when they’re called to the podium, as well as throw out some trade scenarios they could make on June 22nd. I’ll also be posting a mock draft a few days before the draft, so check in for that as well.
Thanks for reading!