Gleaning: the act of collecting information in small amounts and often with difficulty
That’s really what it is, trying to determine your team’s plan for next year’s roster. You glean the information given in bits and pieces. You would think it would be easy. Just listen to what the GM says, watch for trades and free agent signings and fill in the blanks. Trouble is it never really works out that way.
You have to deal with all of this misinformation. Like when your GM insists that the team is going to give John Scott more playing time. And then proceeds to sign so many other players that Scott might not even make the team.
Then you have “main stream media” stating Patrick Sharp will be the second line center for next years team. Then follow that up with another article claiming Sharp will play wing and Kruger will be the center.
And of course you have to deal with “known Internet facts” like when exactly are the Hawks going to buyout that Rostislav Olesz’ contract? When you have been pretty sure all along that that was not going to happen.
All these things make figuring out next years team so difficult. And probably why I find it so interesting, as well.
So how do all these pieces fit? What have we “gleaned” from all this.
The Usual Suspects:
I have Toews, Kane, Hossa, and Bolland in their “usual” positions. Coach Q has again, this offseason, specifically mentioned how important Bolland as a checking line center is for the team team. And now that Frolik has been resigned, it appears the Hawks have a made big improvement on Bolland’s RW (which was filled most often last year by Pisani).
On the defensive side I still think last year’s regular season lineup with Leddy in it portends this one; Seabrook/Hjammer in defensive situations, Leddy/Keith in offensive ones.
Yes, losing Campbell in that “bum slayer” role is a huge loss but it does give Leddy and Keith some more of those primo offensive shifts. And it was on the offensive side last year where Keith lost his Norris persona. So getting better offensive opportunities might let Keith get back the “superman cape” he wore for most of 09/10.
Free Agent Signings:
It appears the Hawks signed Brunette to give him the first shot at playing LW with Toews and Kane.
Montador was traded to the Hawks just before his UFA signing period would start. As a fifth defensemen, he obviously gives the Hawks things they have missed since Sopel departed. And is a huge improvement over Boynton who filled that role last season.
The Lepisto signing probably means the end of Campoli as a Hawk. It is too bad that Campoli could not be signed. Still Montador and Lepisto are still a huge upgrade over Boynton and Cullimore/Hendry who spent a good portion of the year as the Hawks third pair. And of course Sean O’Donnell as the Hawks 7th defensemen is an even bigger improvement over John Scott and Cullimore.
The Olesz trade:
When Olesz was traded to the Hawks there were all kinds of speculation that Olesz would be “bought out.” This made absolutely NO sense to me.
- If the Hawks intended to buyout a contract from the Campbell trade it made more sense for the Panthers to trade the Hawks Reinprecht’s contract then the Olesz’ one.
- At the time of the trade Tallon did mention the Hawks “targeted” Olesz. And while that could just be GM “speak,” it does appear the Hawks selected Olesz from at least a short list of options.
- Olesz was originally projected as the fifth to tenth pick in the 2004 draft. And top picks usually get one, two, and maybe even three more chances to produce then other players drafted.
- And then, well, there are those advanced hockey stats that showed Olesz can play some defense and “move the play” in the right direction. He can make a difference when he is on the ice.
So I have always felt Olesz was going to get a shot on next years Hawks team. And watching Coach Quenneville over the years he always seemed to place the best defensive LW alongside Bolland. Last year that was Bickell but last year there weren’t a whole lot of good defensive minded LW’s on the Hawks.
And while Bickell/Bolland/Frolik showed some chemistry at the end of last year, Frolik and Olesz are both Czech players that have played together on the Panthers and I think played together on the Czech National team. Who knows what kind of chemistry they could have together with Bolland. So I still think Olesz will eventually beat out Bickell for that defensive LW slot.
Now it all comes down to those two remaining centers.
Second line center for the last two years and fourth line center last year have been the real weakness on the Hawks. Personally, I thought the Hawks were going to bring in an Unrestricted Free Agent like Marty Reasoner to play that 4th line center (and 1st line Penalty Killer) roles. When that didn’t happen it was back to “gleaning mode” to try and determine what Bowman was really thinking.
Jesse Rogers at the opening of Blackhawks/Stanley’s Kitchen & Tap Restaurant was suggesting that Ben Smith and Marcus Kruger were going to get the first opportunities at those two center slots. At least he reported that that was what Bowman was suggesting.
It actually makes sense for Smith to get a shot at that 4th line center position. The Hawks like Smith but if Frolik plays 3rd line RW there might not be a position for Smith on this year’s team. The Hawks already have their “bangers” and there are also better top two line LW options on this year’s team.
And if the Hawks don’t make a trade before the season starts it really does look like Kruger is going to get that first shot at second line center. The Campbell trade did free up a significant amount of money, though. So the Hawks right now have significant Payroll Room to make a trade. If they don’t do it before the season starts they probably will save it specifically in case Kruger falters and all those other “versatile” options can’t fill the bill.
So the results are in:
Now this was a whole lot of work to come up with what is “possibly” the current embodiment of the Chicago Blackhawk team. And I understand, it only takes one bad preseason period for the “Coach Q Random Line Generator” to come into effect. But like I said, “how a team comes together has always fascinated me.” And considering the salary cap issues of the last two years, how the current Blackhawks will be put together is far more interesting then normal.
So without further adieu or a possible yet to be announced trade, I present my interpretation of the current Chicago Blackhawks projected roster.
CAPGEEK.COM CAP CALCULATOR
Andrew Brunette ($2.000m) / Jonathan Toews ($6.300m) / Patrick Kane ($6.300m)
Patrick Sharp ($3.900m) / Marcus Kruger ($0.900m) / Marian Hossa ($5.275m)
Rostislav Olesz ($3.125m) / Dave Bolland ($3.375m) / Michael Frolik ($2.333m)
Bryan Bickell ($0.541m) / Ben Smith ($0.812m) / Viktor Stalberg ($0.875m)
Daniel Carcillo ($0.775m) / Jamal Mayers ($0.550m)
Brent Seabrook ($5.800m) / Niklas Hjalmarsson ($3.500m)
Nick Leddy ($1.116m) / Duncan Keith ($5.538m)
Steve Montador ($2.750m) / Sami Lepisto ($0.750m)
/ Sean O’Donnell ($0.850m)
Corey Crawford ($2.666m) / Alexander Salak ($0.612m)
SALARY CAP: $64,300,000; CAP PAYROLL: $60,646,795; BONUSES: $730,000
CAP SPACE (23-man roster): $3,653,205