NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Chicago Blackhawks at Boston Bruins

Exit Interviews: Brent Seabrook

Well here’s the one you’ve probably been waiting for, or one of them. Certainly no player generated more debate, or more jokes, than Brent Seabrook. We beat the drum of suckage all year, while other screamed just as passionately that we weren’t seeing his brilliance correctly. The truth is almost certainly in the middle (but leaned to our side ha ha ha). Let’s see if we can find it.

Regular Season: 82 games, 7 goals, 34 assists, 41 points, +23, 0.12 Behind The Net Rating, 16.17 Corsi per 60 (+6.2 Corsi Relative per 60)

Playoffs: 16 games, 3 goals, 12 assists, 15 points, +0, -0.10 Behind The Net Rating, -2.01 Corsi per 60 (+1.1 Corsi Relative per 60)

What We Liked: Um… let’s see… um…. Anyway, seriously, Seabrook recovered toward the end of the year after a very rocky start to the season, and after a month off was ok in March and April. Decent on the power play (as it didn’t involve too much skating) as he has the biggest shot from the point and actually knew how to move along the blue line to get himself space, a lesson Duncan Keith has yet to grasp. 40 points from the blue line is hard to ignore, no matter how it came about. And… that’s it.

What We Didn’t Like: Buckle up. When looking at Seabrook merely on a sheet of paper, it’s hard to say that he had a bad year. The points, the plus-minus, the metrics, they all point to an effective player. But if you watched every game, you saw someone profiting greatly from the brilliance of his partner and the forwards ahead of him. Not only was Seabrook skating with the likely Norris winner, but he spent the most time behind Toews, Hossa, and Sharp. And they all covered for his sluggishness/laziness/nacho-ness. Regularly Seabrook just looked a half step behind the play, and that eventually reared its ugly head in the Conference Final when Seabrook was regularly caught watching as some King had all the time in the world in front. Seabrook also nearly put the Hawks to the sword with his moronic hit on David Backes, and was bailed out by Sheldon Brookbank playing some of the best hockey of his life in his absence.  Seabrook looked this way for most of last year as well, and we wrote it off as not having played during the lockout and then crashed into an intense regular season. What’s the excuse this time around?

What Is It, You Would Say, You Do Here: A more interesting question than we ever thought it might be. There have been whispers, mostly from us admittedly, that Seabrook could be had in a trade. That’s still very unlikely, but you can see the reasons for it. The market for free agent defensemen is absolute garbage this summer, which means you could essentially name your price for Seabrook if he were made available. He’s still under 30 and for a top pairing d-man his contract isn’t unreasonable.

That said, I would be absolutely floored if the Hawks moved Seabrook, and Stan would have to be floored by an offer. So would Seabrook, who has a no-movement clause (as do most of the Hawks, it seems). It’s still much more likely that Oduya is the one who will go, and the Hawks will hope that Seabrook can recapture the form of ’10-’12 when he was almost certainly better than Keith. At age 29 it’s certainly feasible that Seabrook can find it again, as he shouldn’t be on the decline yet. But next year, he’ll probably get a good look at the first kid who could genuinely replace him one day in Stephen Johns. Maybe that will light a fire under his well-fed ass.

  • http://www.twitter.com/JohnnyMadhouse JohnnyMadhouse

    Spot on. The tough thing with Seabrook is the space between what he is and what he could be, coupled with what he costs. If he continues to be what he is, his value at his current cost is debatable, and if he gets worse he might as well cash his checks in a Hamburglar costume. If he goes back to being what he can be, his $5.8MM price tag becomes more justifiable. Either way, I think he ends up getting dealt rather than re-upped, probably not this summer but hopefully next. If not, someone will, for better or for worse, pay him more than anyone should pay a wrong-side-of-30 Brent Seabrook in free agency… I just hope it ain’t the Hawks.

  • jordyhawk

    I thought Backes had the puck when Seabrook hit him, and I’m pretty sure
    Seabrook thought the same so I think it’s a stretch to call it moronic. As for the rest, I guess I still think he’s a good hockey player for the most part, and even better come playoffs when it helps to have an anvil in your ass which he does. I think there is next to no chance that he gets dealt, nor should he be.

  • TitanTransistor

    Starting to wonder if all the hits to the head are catching up with Seabrook and he just can’t process the game at the speed he used to (or is necessary of a top pairing D-man). His skating looks generally fine, it’s just like he takes an extra second to make the decision of what to do, and in today’s game, that’s all the opposition needs to make you pay.

    The state of the UFA Defensemen market really makes the idea of a trade more appealing than it otherwise would be. Especially if it goes towards getting a legit 2C (still not convinced that TT is the kind of generational player that can hop into the NHL at 19 and contribute at the level some expect).

    • flahawkfan

      I don’t get this part: “The state of the UFA Defensemen market really makes the idea of a trade more appealing than it otherwise would be.” I understand what you’re saying, but if there are no decent UFA d-men out there, how do you propose to replace Seabs? There’s nobody on the Hogs who’s nearly as good as Seabs, and if there’s nobody on the UFA market and you trade Seabs, you have as your d-corps Keith, Hammer, likely Oduya, and . . . what? Your defense, which dropped off precipitously this year anyway, drops off even more.

      No, Seabs didn’t have his best year defensively. But I’m certainly willing to give him another season to get back up to snuff before the Hawks ditch the guy. I got the impression during the playoffs that he was overthinking and backing off from hitting because he got suspended. I could be wrong, but you could almost see him thinking (instead of acting) any time he had a chance to hit someone.

      I dunno. I guess I just don’t get the hate. It’s taken on a life of its own, sort of the way Foley and Olczyk’s constant railing about Stalberg took on a life of its own. I hope Seabs proves everybody wrong next season. And that he does it with the Hawks rather than another team.

      • TitanTransistor

        The fact that the UFA D market is weak is tantalizing purely from a ‘sell high’ mindset. The asking price is arguably as high as it will ever be for Seabrook this off-season. It’s true it will open up some questions on D. I’m not all in on trading Seabrook, I’m conflicted about the idea… but the market makes the idea more appealing than it otherwise would be (which is to say, without the market being what it is, the notion of trading Seabrook would be completely unappealing to me).

        Team defense was an issue this year, more so than the defensemen themselves. Same personnel as last year when the Hawks were the top defensive team in the league after all.

        The entire team as a whole just wasn’t as aggressive away from the puck as they were last year. They were all passive and sloppy, forwards and defense alike. The speed advantage that the team used last season to close the gap on puck carriers and outman other teams at the boards and then race back into position if the battle was lost (or scream up the ice as a unit if it was won) just wasn’t there.

        I don’t think our defense corps was a particular sore spot last year, I think the team as a whole played a less sound brand of hockey.

        As far as Seabrook overthinking because of the suspension, I don’t really buy it, because he was flat-footed very often throughout the regular season as well. He was getting beat wide, he was puck-watching opposing players in front of the net, all the same problems.

  • Oldfarthawkfan

    So if traded, who paris with Keith and who pairs with Hjarmelsson? My guess is Oduya is gone with Leddy moving up. Can’t fathom StanBo trading 2 of his top 4 defenseman in one year

  • ‘hawks58

    Remember when Biscuit was the better half of Marlboro 72? Remember when everyone and their brother wanted Hammer shipped out for a song? Let’s just cool our jets on Seabrook a little. Did he have his best year, hell no! Did he have a good year, debatable, but probably no.

    Now I hear people wanting him to be traded for a #2 C; what exactly does that leave us at #3 D? It certainly isn’t Oduya (who everyone also wants to trade) or Leddy. To me, the value Seabrook brings just cannot be matched via trade, especially when you consider that he has a big locker room presence.

    Seabrook stays for one more year at least. If he’s no better next year, then I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bowman move him in the last year of his contract.

  • fromheretoinfirmary

    Let’s not forget that not only did Seabrook obviously slack off during the lockout, but the following offseason was all celebration. I’m of the belief that two unproductive offseasons caught up with Biscuit, and a normal offseason with a commitment to working on his game will see a return to form. Regardless, I don’t think he should be moved. Defense was the problem in the WCF. While a lot of that was Seabrook’s own fault, I don’t see who could provide an upgrade. Moving him for a 2C when Teuvo will likely be ready in the next few years seems shortsighted.

    • TitanTransistor

      Well, team defense wasn’t just the problem in the WCF, it was through the entire regular season and quite a few games through the first two rounds too.

      The Hawks went from the best defensive team in the league in 2012-2013, to 14th in the league in 2013-2014.

      The best defensive team this year? They’re the same team that beat the Hawks and won the cup.

      The Hawks need to get back to what they were doing last season, forwards and D alike. They need to be much more aggressive away from the puck. That includes Seabrook, but most of his problems were in terms of reaction and decision making, more so than speed IMO. So many times he just watched the puck while opposing players did whatever they wanted around him.

    • Commit88

      I dunno, to me the major problem in the playoffs was lack of depth on forward lines. I thought their D and goaltending was good enough. More depth and more possession, more scoring threat, more shots, less shots against, etc, I think could have gotten them to the Finals.

      • fromheretoinfirmary

        Well, I agree that possession is usually a cure-all: if you have the puck the other team can’t score. But against the Kings if I’m not mistaken the even strength possession numbers were relatively even. The problem was the Kings were able to capitalize on such a large majority of their chances due to failure to clear the crease, soft plays along the boards, etc. Don’t get me wrong, the lack of depth was a HUGE problem for sure, but just look to how many two goals leads vanished against the Kings (2 in game 7 alone) despite comparable even strength possession numbers. And this was after the Kings PP cooled off a tad in the second half of the series.

        • Commit88

          The weird thing is that the defense and goalie were the exact same as a year prior when the Hawks won the Cup. Was this just an off year from some of the D men? Or did they really take a step back? Will they recover?

          Both teams scored a lot in that series. Both goalies looked good/bad at times as well.

          For the off season, either argument I think is definitely valid and I wouldn’t mind a minor defensive change (ie Roszival and Brookbank gone); however I would rather wait to see how the D is in 14-15 and change some bottom 6 forwards, than start messing with top 4 D.

  • HossasPierogi

    You guys have gone Pierre McGuire on this subject. So now Seabrook, the hero of 2013, was off last year, too? This is virtually the same as Crow bashing.

    • TitanTransistor

      He was off last year. Not as much as he was this year, but there was definitely a noticeable decline from 2011-2012 to last season, and then another one to this season. Compare that to 2009/2010, 2010/2011, and 2011/2012 when he was arguably IMPROVING every year.

    • Commit88

      Imo Seabrook was bad in 12-13 as well as 13-14.

      • Commit88

        I could be wrong but I remember a fight at the end of the 12-13 season where Seabs got knocked unconscious. After that he seemed to be playing while still unconscious during the playoffs.

      • HossasPierogi

        Yes, bad as in scoring some of the most clutch goals in Blackhawks history. Not as good as before? Maybe. Bad? No way. Seabrook is one of the great Blackhawks. Time will prove that.

        • Commit88

          Bad for a number 2 defenseman on this team? Yes. I agree he scores big goals when he actually shoots. Not a knock against HJ, but when he is stealing your minutes, yes, you are playing poorly.

  • TitanTransistor

    http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=722978&navid=DL|NHL|home

    I doubt Seabrook gets traded, but what are the chances a team that iced the reanimated corpses of Brad Stuart and Scott Hannan, and just let Boyle walk, wouldn’t be interested in upgrading on D this year?

    And if they’re interested in getting younger, changing the leadership group….

    Seabrook + ??? + ??? (insert whoever you feel fair) for one of those two?

    Yeah, yeah I’m dreaming. But Thornton OR Marleau at C would be AMAZING.

    • SAMCRO Outlaw

      I’m all for listening to offers for Seabrook, but not for older guys like Thornton (3yrs 6.75 mil) or Marleau (3yrs 6.66 mil) that’s too many years and too much money for guys that deep into their careers. To me I’d be looking for a young top 6 forward to play alongside TVO like Evander Kane (4yrs 5.25 mil) or Taylor Hall (dreaming). To me Kane makes perfect sense, so if I were Stan I’d be pushing hard since he’s in play.
      Lines of:
      20-19-88
      EK-86-81
      29-65-11 or 10 (if he isn’t trade bait)
      ?-16-28
      I think this adds speed throughout the lineup, a nice layer of protection for 86 to play with, and puts a 3rd line that can put a huge forecheck on teams.

      • TitanTransistor

        Those are reasonable objections.

        I should say, my interest in either as a 2C is framed by my own lack of confidence that TT will play 82 games next season. I just haven’t seen enough to suggest that he’s the kind of generational player that can jump into the NHL at 19 and be a major contributor in the top 6 on a contender. If I’m wrong about that I would be overjoyed.

        Now, that aside, it’s true Thornton and Marleau are older, but Marleau put up a ton of points playing against some of the toughest QoC in the league (he was actually top of the league in QoC at the Olympic break, slid down the chart a bit in the latter half of the year), while Thornton at 35 had the 6th best 5v5 score close scores in the league last year.

        Thornton’s possession numbers have actually risen the last several years.

        So yes, they’re older, but they’re still great.

        Kesler is another option, obviously, but his injury history makes me anxious, and I’m not sure the Canucks would deal him to the Hawks, even with a new GM at the helm.

        • lizmcneill

          Are they going to continue to be great for the next 3 years at 6M+?

        • Andrew Heitman

          Thornton isnt worth the money on this roster and would require jettisoning far more talent to get him.

        • SAMCRO Outlaw

          That’s my concern with TVO also, but giving him a couple of killer wingers to work with should lessen the Q factor of hiding him in the press box or putting him on the Rockford shuttle. Given what we saw of his game, it’s obvious a bottom six role isn’t playing to his strengths so he has to play a 2nd line role. Is he going to be the star Stan has sold him as? Who knows, but he has some traits that those player types do, such as first step quickness, hands, and playmaking ability. I think he’s going to have to adjust his style to fit with Q who pushes his guys hard to play a north/south game. If he can find a way to keep his skill set high playing that way then I think he has a legit chance to be a player.

  • berkley

    Not sure Sam, still feels like it amounts to a continued moment of “you aren’t seeing what I’m seeing.”
    Cause I still haven’t seen what y’all have seen, and this didn’t flesh it out further than that.
    The playoffs showcased obvious mistakes for Seabrook, but who didn’t play like shit on D in the postseason? Scored plenty but gave up too many. Everybody was bad. Everyone took bad penalties. Nobody played well against the Kings PP.

  • Bob Lanz

    Well that wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be but…. Sam you fucking guys are great get over this already. You looked for and made Brent a scapegoat. We all saw the bad plays it sucked. He was very good in the playoffs which is what you tell us is the only thing that counts. So is there a better #2 dman in the league sure, but not many not with what seabs brings and by the way Keith had more than his share of flubs he just had the speed to make up for it and a partner who is responsible enough to bail him out.

  • 334Rules

    I still maintain that it’s not so much Seabrook sucking, in an objective sense, but Seabrook sucking relative to Brent Seabrook. Yes he had lapses – but I’ve yet to see a player (including #99, even in his prime) who didn’t. The real issue you hint at only at the end: the Hawks have a lot of good – and at least one likely great – D men in the system, and it may be time to start seeing what they can do with the big club.