When I opened up this post it was going to be Marcus Kruger’s season preview, but then the roster news started spurting out like… well, I’ll just let you fill in your own naughty metaphor there. It’s very cold in my apartment and hence I’m not in the mood.
First it was the news that Marko Dano has been sent down to Rockford. Then right behind it came that Bryan Bickell is on waivers, I’m guessing with the intention of sending him down as well.
So let’s try and parse this out as best we can.
First Dano. He’s only one of the few on a two-way contract, and Artemi Panarin is never going to see Rockford otherwise he’d fuck off back to Russia (though are Rockford and a lot of Russian backwaters so different?). Still, it’s not the best look when one of the major pieces you acquired for one of the most promising forwards in the whole league can’t break with the team. Dano even started playing with Toews and Hossa, and from all reports looked good doing it. Didn’t do much in the preseason games, and we know that Q is just dying to show us how versatile Andrew Shaw is by having him play left wing on either of the top two lines (I imagine Panarin is the other).
How this shakes out the rest of the lineup is only a guess, but with the Bickell news it looks like they’re serious about having CatButt skate on the 3rd line with Teuvo and Tikhonov (I’m going to screw up which order the K and the H come in his name roughly 347 times this month) in a colossal waste of everyone’s time. Your 4th line will then be Desjardins-Kruger-Baun, as the Hawks try and prove that just one of their college signings will actually turn out to be useful. Especially with TVR likely headed for a 7th or 8th d-man role at best if he isn’t on his way west on I-90 as well.
This is a win for Kyle Baun, except the only people who think he’s been really impressive in his two games last year and at camp this year are the Hawks themselves. While they’re probably ultra worried about being too small, Baun skating 10 minutes on the 4th line doesn’t really solve that and that’s really all he’s proven to be. He’s not exactly a plodder but he isn’t all that quick, and when the games count for real I don’t think his hands are going to hold up either. CatButt was only a third liner on the Stars last year because their forward depth was awful, and he really shouldn’t be anything other than in the 4th line rotation here. The lionization of Andrew Shaw… well, we gave up that fight long ago but essentially the Hawks decided to erode their skill depth simply to have more size where it almost certainly doesn’t matter. Maybe they’re trying to make it up to the enraged portions for their female fanbase by going with a “Size matters” philosophy. We already know they’re that misguided.
As for Bickell, we know that no one would take him over the summer despite the Hawks essentially listing him on Craigslist as a “Free but you must pick up” item, and now they’ve basically left him in the alley by the garbage cans. But no one is coming for that contract (hopefully a valuable lesson on letting the GM sign all the contracts, hmmm?). The Hawks could conceivably send him to Rockford as well, getting to bury 950K of his $4M salary. If they go that route, they’d have about $2.3M in space… though why Dano then has to be in Rockford is anyone’s guess. Maybe they’re making another trade to bring in D help and need that space… but Nikita Nikitin or the like isn’t an answer to any question anyone is asking. And there’s still the possibility of LTIR, but they wouldn’t need to put him on waivers to do that so I guess they’ve ruled out having someone club him in the knee on his way home from the rink.
I wouldn’t get too twisted about it. Dano probably shouldn’t be down there for long, assuming the Hawks realize their strength last spring was having three scoring lines and that CatButt on your 3rd does not constitute a scoring line. The comparison to Teuvo is an easy one, as he had to toil away in the AHL for basically no reason other than the Hawks credo of “earning it.” Except Dano has already proven to be an NHL player last year, in the NHL, which Teuvo hadn’t. I would imagine he’ll be up well before the Circus Trip. Which the Hawks will need, because they’re going to have to outscore a lot of teams with Trevor Daley skating significant minutes.