Now’s Not the Time to be Cheap


With the trade deadline just 3 days away, its crunch time for GM Stan Bowman and the Chicago Blackhawks. While there’s been a lot of chatter, the Hawks have yet to make a major splash. This could be due to the fact that the asking price for most players out there is pretty high and Bowman is being a little too prudent with his stack of assets.

But is now the right time to be cheap?

The Hawks are currently 6th in the Western Conference, just 7 points away from the 10th place LA Kings. A playoff spot is by no means guarenteed.

They’re still statistically one of the worst defensive teams in the NHL, they haven’t scored a powerplay goal since the Reformation, they’re far too shallow and inconsistent to go up against the tougher contenders in the West in a 7-game series and expect to come out victorious.

Its pretty simple: if the Hawks are serious about making a deep playoff run, they have a lot of holes to fill. The goaltending appears to be stabilizing, as does the defense, but don’t fool yourself, the Hawks still need a lot of help, on the back-end and up front.

I’m sticking to the assessment I made during the 9-game “Great Depression”: one or two minor trades WILL NOT help this team. If the Hawks’ brass are serious about turning this group into a serious contender, some fairly major moves are needed. Adding another 5th or 6th defenseman and a 3rd or 4th liner will do very little. The problems of this team have largely stemmed from the “missing middle” of the roster. The drop-off from the upper tier of the roster is substantial and the Hawks management needs to make a move or two to bridge that gap.

Now I need to make a couple things clear. A lot of people are suggesting the Hawks avoid overspending draft picks and/or prospects to upgrade their roster. My response is:  the Hawks are one of the few teams that can afford to overpay for a much-needed player.

In the last 2 drafts the Hawks have had 22 picks. Do the math. That’s basically 3 drafts in 2 years. And of those 22 picks, 12 have come in the top 100 (6 in 2010 and 6 in 2011) In fact, in the past two drafts, the Hawks have had three 1st round picks, six 2nd round picks, three 3rd round picks, two 4th’s, one 5th,  three 6th’s and three 7th’s. They can afford one year without a pick or two in the first few rounds.

Furthermore, word is that the Hawks are being very reluctant to deal their 1st round pick this year. Now, first off,  unless you’re picking in the top 8-10, first-round picks are an absolute crapshoot. The majority of late first-round picks never get so much as a sniff of the NHL (unless you were drafted in 2003). Second, according to most scouts, this is one of the weaker draft classes in recent years, which plummets the quality of a late-first round pick even further. So the point is, the Hawks shouldn’t be so conservative with their 1st round pick.

Basically, the point I’m trying to make here is now is not the time to be cheap, especially with all the assets that the Hawks have accumulated over the past couple of years, most of which they don’t really need. Their system is loaded with players who all have similar projections. Hoarding those players will do nothing but create a logjam.

Major problems require major solutions, and often that involves moving some big chips.

For those wanting to wait until Monday, take a page out of Brian Burke’s handbook: the price is almost never lower at the deadline. As he put it the other day: there’s too many shopping carts and too few registers. Prices get bid up and often you’re forced to vastly overpay or settle for lesser talent, which is likely what will happen to the Hawks.

Bowman has already lost out on several quality players who went at a reasonable price (Grossman, Quincey, even Carter to an extent) Say what you want about those players, they would have made the Hawks better and instead they’ve all gone elsewhere. Sure Bowman still has all his prospects and draft picks, meanwhile Detriot, and Nashville are already higher in the standins than the Hawks and have made upgrades.

If Bowman is unwilling to make the changes that are necessary, I’d rather him not make any at all. What good will another Campoli-like acquistion do? If he lacks the mojo to spend, spend, spend, it would be better to stick with his hand until after the new CBA is negotiated. That might be the prudent thing to do at this point.

If we don’t see anything big deals in the next few days, that’s probably a sign that that’s what they’re doing.

Thanks for reading.