Knights-of-the-Round-Table-monty-python-380129_800_441

Knights Of The Round Table

This is something we told ourselves we were going to do regularly before the season, and like everything else we tell ourselves we were completely lying. But in the interest of everything else we want to do in 2016, i.e. ramp up our content, we’re going to do this regularly. All of us get together to talk about something with the Hawks and something with the NHL. 

What would you like to see the Hawks do in 2016, be it a trade or a change in style or anything else?

Feather: Despite his lack of scoring thus far, Phillip Danault certainly has the look and feel of a guy that fans will be worried about the Hawks being able to afford in a few years. So that’s one less hole they will have to fill. 

The obvious answer on what the Hawks need is on the back end. The problem, of course, is that no one is dealing game-changing defenseman anymore. (The 80s and 90s were pretty remarkable) So instead, they’ll have to find a couple guys who still have value but close to expiring contracts on non-contenders. Like everyone else will be too. 

Or if they truly believe in TVR and Gustafsson, they can let them take their lumps and hope by the time the playoffs roll around, their games will have matured to levels where the Hawks three defensemen aren’t averaging 45 minutes a game. 

Slak: McClure and I have talked about this, seemingly for years, and I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t mention it in his answer – but clearly they need to trade someone who has value in the forward corps for someone who is good enough to play defense. One guy who is coming up as an RFA and doesn’t make a ton of sense as a longer and higher term player on this team is Andrew Shaw. The issue with that is a) I have no idea how other teams value him and b) the Hawks will probably re-sign him, which will enrage our circle of bloggers but delight most every other Hawks fan. He’s just not the kind of guy the Blackhawks don’t usually send away. Seems like a defenseman who can skate and it’s 38 years old would be a nice addition. Hopefully a catastrophic injury to one of their best players isn’t the path to acquiring one. 

McClure: For 2016? All of the above I suppose. 

It’s very clear that the Hawks are missing two key elements, one up front and one on the blue line. At forward, they are as deep at center and RW as they’ve ever been, but none of those players, save what’s left of Hossa would be considered “straight line” players. Yes, this is a roundabout way of saying that they miss Brandon Saad and his ability to gain the offensive blue line with speed and possession, but without digging splinters out of my ass pining for him specifically, or without absolving what’s been a whitebread ironic yukelele cover of a season so far from Jonathan Toews. The answer on the top line is clearly not the overly-caffinated cocker spaniel game of Andrew Shaw, nor is it any of young, creative options (Teuvo, Dano) who need the puck to make it work. Is that answer Jonathan Drouin? Maybe but he feels like more of the same. The fact that the Rangers are now circling the drain and Chris Kreider is in a walk year sounds quite intriguing, and Patrick Marleau is the most ideal and expensive solution. 

But aiding that would be more than one defenseman with a set of feet, which Erik Gustafsson hasn’t fully proven he has yet. He’s shown some flashes of competence, but he looks far from ready for the playoff crucible. The oft mentioned J-M Liles would be the most favorable deal to make, but something likely has to come off the roster for it. And yes, as Slak mentioned, in a perfect world that piece would be Andrew Shaw, who while fun, provides a redundant skill set and is the type of player the Hawks should be able to replace internally without having to pay any more than he’s already making. Because unless it’s a credit default swap with New Jersey for the dead money of Ryane Clowe, Bryan Bickell isn’t going anywhere. 

On a personal note, it’d be nice if the Hawks were able to acquire some kind of sentimental veteran who can still actually play (sky point Kimmo) to get me reinvested in the games, because as of right now useless ceremonies like Sunday night against Ottawa, using hash tags on social media like #YeastMode (yes, this is a thing they’ve been doing), and continuing to have the coach’s radio show sponsored by a T&A restaurant all just prove the cynical bet Ozymandias and the organization made as being correct, because an actual gesture of showing any kind of “getting it” from an actual social conscience perspective isn’t happening. And seeing GET LOUDER on the ribbon LED boards certainly doesn’t make me want to go into the building any time soon. 

We know how Slak feels about this because he hates anything that anyone likes ever and he certainly hates fun, but how seriously are you taking the Dallas Stars?

Feather: To be determined. The scariest thing I see about them is their increasing ability to lock it defensively when they need to. If they were more one dimensional, I wouldn’t be worried at all. 

However, the other thing you can point to (if you’re so inclined) is this outfit doesn’t look to be poised for long term success. They have big money tied up in a lot of guys including bad goalies and RFAs that will be in search of a large raise this summer in Goligoski and Nichushkin to name a couple. 

Finally, it’ll be someone else’s turn to sacrifice good players in the name of fair competition for teams that no one cares about. 

Slak (get ready for this one): Spoiler alert, eh Sam? The thing you have to understand, if you chose (poorly) to follow me on Twitter is that I grab onto things and don’t let go. I don’t actually hate Mark Arcobello. But he’s become a vehicle for know it all fans who think they’re smarter than the 27 GMs who’ve already waived the guy. He’s a fifth liner. Sorry, Pension Plan Puppets – a depth center is the least of your problems so maybe you’ll stop tweeting about him now? Doubt it. 

As for Dallas, same kind of idea. I’ve had this obsession with Jim Nill ever since the entire blogosphere named him Coolest/Nicest/Smartest GM going. Nauseating because he came from Detroit where everyone’s a certified genius, and because he has established the Stars as a dynasty when it comes to  “winning the offseason”. You may not remember every single blogger/writer covering themselves in batter when the Stars signed Ales Hemsky but I’ll never forget it. 

Yes, they are a Potent (with a capital P) offense and adding Patrick Sharp has only served to augment that. Yes, John Klingberg is establishing himself as a really nice defenseman. They need a lot more than Klingberg if they’re going to do something that actually matters in this league. Trophies President and Art Ross are very nice – and I’m not even being sarcastic – but in North America you win the Cup or you sucked. 

Think the Stars could get .935 goaltending from the expensive Finnish corpses holding up their net and/or carry 55% of the puck at evens over seven games against Chicago? LA? St. Louis? I might not even pick them to beat Minnesota. But then again, I hate everything. 

Don’t worry about when Sam genuflects at the altar of the Dallas Fucking Stars. He spent the last two months of last season talking about how “when” the Kings make the playoffs they’re going to beat everyone again.

McClure: To me the Stars are just Lindy Ruff’s second chance with the 2007 Sabres after they were ripped apart by internal finances. Even if they got to the Final there was no way that forward group was getting past a blue line with both Pronger AND Niedermayer on it. The question marks here are basically the same, with the added element of iffy goaltending while boasting a similarly swift if not shut-down blue line. The numbers suggest that this is not a mirage, but it’s a different story playing bums every other night in the course of an 82 game season than the playoffs when coaches get coachy AS FUCK and try to take away absolutely everything. But because this league has given me no reason to think otherwise, I will take them seriously when they beat either the Kings or the Hawks in a series. 

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