Analysis

For 2018-19 Chicago Blackhawks, Change Could Mean Variety Of Options

By Stephen Yatsushiro
WINNIPEG, MANITOBA - APRIL 7: Jordan Oesterle
WINNIPEG, MANITOBA - APRIL 7: Jordan Oesterle /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
2 of 3
Next
WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 28: John Carlson
WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 28: John Carlson /

“Then I go to my brother … And I say brother help me please”

Bowman has signed all six of his current defensemen for next season.  I wrote previously that a defensive corps of Keith, Seabrook, Rutta, Murphy, Erik Gustafsson, Jordan Oesterle and seventh man Forsling is not going to be significantly better next season than what we saw this season.

They’ll need help from outside.  The top unrestricted free agent defensemen worth looking at are John Carlson, Calvin de Haan, Thomas Hickey and John Moore.  There are some solid restricted free agents, but signing them involves losing assets, and offer sheets create ill will between general managers.

Carlson is going to command upwards of $8 million, while the other three will be in the $3.5 -$5.5 million range.  I still firmly believe that Washington will re-sign Carlson.  The New York Islanders will be in a bind to sign a bunch of their own free agents, so either de Haan or Hickey could become attainable.  Moore of the New Jersey Devils is also a dependable defender and is a Winnetka, Ill., native.

Signing Carlson would jar the salary cap structure for the ‘Hawks, while signing any of the other three would be more budget friendly.

Statistically, let’s compare the three defenders, courtesy of Corsica.com:

John Carlson


#74 | D | 28

Nationality: USA

Height: 6′ 3″

Weight: 215

Shoots: R

Summary

0.37

Goals per 60

1.07

Primary Points per 60

0.68

Game Score per Game

0.05

Star Rating per Game

-1.6%

Relative Corsi

-0.12

xG Differential per 60

+4

Penalty Differential

49.8%

Zone Start Ratio

———————————————————–

Calvin de Haan


#44 | D | 27

Nationality: CAN

Height: 6′ 1″

Weight: 197

Shoots: L

Summary

0.17

Goals per 60

0.60

Primary Points per 60

0.39

Game Score per Game

0.01

Star Rating per Game

+0.3%

Relative Corsi

+0.25

xG Differential per 60

-9

Penalty Differential

47.2%

Zone Start Ratio

———————————————————-

Thomas Hickey


#14 | D | 29

Nationality: CAN

Height: 6′ 0″

Weight: 189

Shoots: L

Summary

0.20

Goals per 60

0.51

Primary Points per 60

0.29

Game Score per Game

0.01

Star Rating per Game

+0.3%

Relative Corsi

-0.20

xG Differential per 60

+9

Penalty Differential

49.0%

Zone Start Ratio

—————————————————————

John Moore


#2 | D | 27

Nationality: USA

Height: 6′ 2″

Weight: 210

Shoots: L

Summary

0.47

Goals per 60

0.66

Primary Points per 60

0.28

Game Score per Game

0.02

Star Rating per Game

-1.0%

Relative Corsi

-0.28

xG Differential per 60

-27

Penalty Differential

51.5%

Zone Start Ratio

The notable statistics are that de Haan has the lowest ratio of zone starts, yet manages to be on the positive side of Corsi-for.  He also sports the best differential in expected goals per 60 minutes.  If the ‘Hawks want to clear their zone, limit scoring chances, get the puck into the offensive zone and create scoring chances, then de Haan is their man.

“But he winds up knockin’ me … Back down on my knees, oh”

The team’s offensive woes have been discussed all season long.  Some subscribe to the theory that the ‘Hawks need to add another top-six scoring forward.

The list of unrestricted free-agent forwards contains a lot of aging forwards, something the ‘Hawks need to avoid at all costs.  The younger forwards who stand out are John Tavares, Evander Kane and James van Riemsdyk.  These three players will command salaries ranging from $6-$10 million.

The problem with adding any of these players is that their salary cap hits will limit what the ‘Hawks can do to bolster the lagging defense.  In 2019, the contracts of David Kampf, Nick Schmaltz, Dylan Sikura, Victor Ejdsell, Blake Hillman, Oesterle, Rutta and Forsling will expire.  In 2020, DeBrincat’s entry-level contract will expire.  So the ‘Hawks will need to be conservative with signing older players to long term contracts.

Tavares will be looking for Toews/Kane type of money, and that will price him out of the Blackhawks’ range.  Both Evander Kane and van Riemsdyk finished out the season just inside of the top-100 scoring leaders.  So, look for them to command offers in the $6.5-7.5 million range.  Either could fill the second-line left wing spot.  Evander Kane would bring some much needed grit to the top six.

One Goal — or just one goalie to back up Crawford

This was the one season where Bowman did not find a diamond in the rough to be Crawford’s backup.  There was no Ray Emery, Antti Raanta or Darling this time around.  And that lack of goalie depth absolutely killed the ‘Hawks in getting wins and in developing the younger roster.  Yes, the play in front of every goalie was an adventure, but confidence in your goalie goes a long way too.

So, what does Bowman do for next season?  Prospect Ivan Nalimov is tied up in his KHL contract, so he won’t be arriving next season.  My best pick is Michael Hutchinson in the Winnipeg Jets organization.

He is currently buried in the AHL with both Connor Hellebuyck and Steve Mason having good years in the NHL.  Hutchinson has given the ‘Hawks a difficult time in the past, and that should be in the organization’s memory.  Hutchinson has posted a 2.16 goals-against average and .936 save percentage with the Manitoba Moose.  He’s also an unrestricted free agent.  Hello.

facebooktwitterreddit