Never let it be said that the Hawks aren’t completely aware of how to manipulate reaction to stuff like this, because I don’t think it’s any coincidence that they dumped the news of Patrick Sharp and Stephen Johns getting dealt to Dallas (where Johns can pound on all their forwards for the next decade five times a year) for Ryan Garbutt and Trevor Daley. Nice try Stan, but we’re always watching.
There’s so many factors in this I’m not sure where to start, so I’ll go player by player. We knew Sharp was likely to go, even after Saad had to be tossed overboard because the math didn’t work with both Sharp and Oduya. No one expected a great return on Sharp, but I can’t help but think Stan Bowman overplayed his hand a bit here. While we won’t ever know what exactly was on offer before and at the draft, we know that there were discussions with several teams while Stan reportedly chased a 1st and a prospect. What he ended up with was an aging, one-way d-man (and not the right way) and a middle aged 4th liner, and he had to toss in Stephen Johns for the privilege of that. Would a 2nd and a 3rd round pick really have been any worse?
The discussions about Sharp are all well known to everyone at this point. I don’t think he’s on a full-out decline, and I think he’ll rebound next year, but he can see it from where he is. In the Iginla model, he’s become more and more of a one-dimensional sniper who really doesn’t get his own shot anymore. And he’s expensive at that. The 200-foot game has been eroding for a while (so he’ll be perfect under Ruff in Dallas). We’ll have much more on Sharp’s career next week, because it really deserves its own post (if not like four).
I suppose we can’t ignore the “Sharp in the room” factor, though it’s impossible to gauge where that actually is. I’ll say this, Sharp stopped playing center basically because Sharp wanted to stop playing center. Maybe that’s some insight into what we’re dealing with, but I again I don’t know how big of a factor that is.
Moving on to Johns, that’s what really baffles. They can’t have soured on him simply because he got hurt a couple times this season. He was not injury prone at Notre Dame, and it’s not like he missed time with a serious of pulled muscles. They were kind of freak injuries. And he was the most surefire young d-man to help the blue line not have the team meal be mush. The Hawks constantly talk about how their system will help them sustain and replace pieces they have to lose with younger, cheaper talent. But they keep tossing that talent overboard. It’s now Stanton, Clendening, Leddy, Dahlbeck, and Johns, and basically what they have to show for it is a quarter season of Vermette, Ville Pokka who is not going to be on the team this year it looks like, and Trevor Daley and Ryan Garbutt. The cupboard on the blue line also appears to be completely bare other than Pokka, and he doesn’t project as much more than useful.
Ok, so for what’s coming back. Let’s start with Daley. He’ll be exciting, in that things will happen when he’s on the ice. And that’s at both ends, which isn’t good. While he becomes possibly the most offensively dynamic d-man the Hawks have behind the top pairing (and maybe even more so), he simply does not have a clue when he gets into his own half. Which is ok, because he’s rarely in that half of the ice. Oh wait, that’s not ok. He’s a complete cowboy who will create a fair few goals but will also create a fair few more for the opposition. His possession numbers are downright ugly, and that’s on a good possession team in Dallas. He’s been a negative relative Corsi player five of the past six years, and that’s with reasonable zone starts. Granted, he’s never had a partner as solid as Hjalmarsson or Seabrook as he might get here, but they’re going to be bailing an awful lot of water.
As for Garbutt, he’s a bottom six asshat winger who is not without his use. However, Garbutt’s possession numbers are not half bad when you consider he, Eakin, and Roussel were taking the worst of the zone starts and competition. If Shaw is moved up to the third line, he’s not the worst guy to have with Desjardins and Kruger.
Ah yes, Kruger and Oduya. Where does this leave them? The Stars are eating half of Garbut’s salary, so the Hawks have 2.5 million more space than they did. Except they still only have 900K of space or so. Bickell and Versteeg look completely immovable (and someone might want to ask if a buyout was considered on either), but the Hawks still need to get them gone if they’re going to bring the Happy Swedes back. I’m sure both have been told what the Hawks plan to offer if they have the space, but when is that going to be, pray tell?
If the Hawks can squeeze them both back, then Daley as a third pairing rusher works a lot better than him on the top four. It’s the Nick Leddy role, and one he was born to play. It would leave the Hawks with a far deeper defense than they ever had last season. If Oduya or someone similar is not brought in, then Daley on the top four is going to cause antacid sales to skyrocket in the Chicago area, and most of that will be being bought by Q.
I guess we have to wait until the set is complete. There’s obviously more to this and we’ll find out in the coming weeks. As of right now, the Hawks just tossed their best defensive prospect onto the side of the road and have gotten older. I just don’t know.