The Gatekeeper of Puckin Hostile
Based on past seasons I, first of all, don’t entirely believe Stan Bowman will do little or nothing, like he stood in front of the media and proclaimed.
That being said, I have a feeling that he also won’t be able to land a big fish like Matt Duchene but, instead, will pull something together less flashy, like Martin Hanzal in Arizona. I just don’t think the Blackhawks have the assets or are willing to part with high draft picks that would be required to acquire a player the caliber of Matt Duchene.
Other teams with cap space, more assets and expendable prospects will increase the ante quickly. Another thing to keep in mind is that even though this year’s draft is pretty weak, the word on the street is that the organization will not give up this year’s inevitable late first-round pick, as anticlimactic and diluted as it will most certainly be.
Da Windy City
When you look at available potential free agent left wings, Tampa’s Ondrej Palat sticks out and then the talent drops off. Brian Boyle is a big, affordable pending UFA that can play wing or center, but it is unclear if the Bolts are willing to deal him.
Three names out of Detroit that have been mentioned are Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Tomas Vanek. Nyquist would be a nice piece but he has another two years remaining on his current $5.5 million per year deal which, again, will increase the ante and eventually force the Blackhawks even further down into the salary apocalypse this summer.
Tatar is also a nice future RFA who played with Marian Hossa on the Team Europe squad in this last year’s World Cup of Hockey. Vanek could be a very real possibility, as well, but I think he may lean more towards a potential disaster move.
Speaking of disasters, all this talk about Patrick Sharp coming back, and basically eating up any cap space the Blackhawks have available, needs to stop. Somehow, people seem to have forgotten that Sharp left as a third-line depth player two seasons ago.
Since then, he has gotten two years older and endured a couple of serious concussions. He is not going to come back to Chicago and suddenly be the booster shot that Jonathan Toews needs.
Sharp would end up playing on the third line and, maybe, on the second powerplay unit. This whole idea has the makings of an epic bust, and only ends badly. Other stories that end badly, you ask? Jarome Iginla, and Alexandre Burrows. Fire them both into the sun.
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As far as defense goes, I could see a low-risk depth defender brought in to push the rotating cast of Q’s doghouse. There is little chance that Bowman can wrangle a worthwhile forward and a significant defenseman with their current cap state, so set expectations low right now.
A team can never have enough serviceable depth defenders, and by “serviceable depth defenders” I don’t mean Viktor Svedberg, Erik Gustafsson, Ville Pokka or even Michal Rozsival. As much as people will cringe at the comparison, a player the level of Trevor van Riemsdyk (in the proper role) comes to mind.
When used properly, van Riemsdyk is a potential every-day, bottom-pairing defender that can fill a spot and not set the entire arena ablaze in the process. Some names that have been mentioned are Kevin Connauton or Luke Schenn in Arizona.
Colorado has a few of pending free agents that could be available, if Joe Sakic gets his head right, in Fedor Tyutin, Eric Gelinas, Nikita Zadorov and Patrick Wiercioch. Keep in mind that any acquisitions will need to be players that will fit Quenneville’s super-secret special sauce, which no one will really know for certain until Quenneville gets him on the ice. Always a super fun little obstacle Bowman has to navigate.
Finally, contrary to popular belief, other teams don’t want the Blackhawks’ smoldering garbage in return. The Blackhawks will have to give up something of value to get a valuable asset in return and will most certainly have to overpay.
Maneuvering themselves into position to grab any big name would mean some salary might have to be retained on the seller’s end, which also becomes more costly on the Blackhawks’ side, or they will be forced to send a significant salary back in the other direction.