The Shortest Straw

With the aquisition of Brad “Religion” Richards, even at the cap friendly number of $2 million dollars for this season, the Hawks are now currently around $2.2 million dollars over the cap while carrying 22 players on the active roster by opening night.

This means that someone is going to have to be voted off of the island in short order, particularly with the Convention coming up in a couple of weeks. If there’s one thing that McDonough and Blunk are conscious of it’s optics, and they’d hate to have a player kissing hands and shaking babies all weekend at the Regency just to have someone’s favorite player launched, even if they technically don’t have to until opening night in October. Add that to the cover that the long holiday weekend will bring tomorrow, as well as the tendency for media types to try to bury bad news on a Friday afternoon, and it would not be the least bit shocking to see someone go tomorrow.

Further complicating matters are the tagging issues that Sam had mentioned yesterday, in that the Hawks cannot exceed salary commitments for next year past this year’s $69 million dollar cap, which is key for re-signing Toews, Kane, and Saad, which again is something that McD undoubtedly wants to trot out at the convention. As of right now, the Hawks have $44 million dollars committed to next year, and in theory that should be enough to even wrap Saad up if Daydream Nation comes in right at around $10 mildo per. But things can change quickly in negotiations, and having breathing room is always helpful. So with all of that said, here’s a look at some of the likely candidates.

  • Kris Versteeg – $2.2 million through 2016 – This is the most obvious choice, as the Verbeauty reunion has been an unmitigated disaster, even with Florida eating half of his salary. Versteeg’s contract goes through the end of next year which helps with tagging, and it gets the Hawks right up against the cap this year. The trick will be finding anyone who wants him, which will most likely be a team near the salary floor of $51 million, and the Hawks will probably have to sweeten the deal and send a pick with him. Stan loves his draft picks, but he may have to pay his way out of his own mistake with this one.
  • Johnny Oduya – $3.375 million through 2015 – Oduya is entering into the last year of his deal at 34, and losing his salary would give the Hawks a little breathing room for Rockford shuffling during the year, if not much bankable cap space for augmentative trades later on down the road. Stan Bowman hates losing useful players for nothing (unless they’re named Viktor Stalberg), and with a crop of young defensemen in Clendening, Johns, and Rundblad waiting for their shot in the show, Oduya would create space for that, even if it would be a hit to what is arguably still the deepest defensive corps in the league. Still, with the stupid spending going on for defensemen (Hello Brooks Orpik and Deryk Engelland), sending Oduya to a team like the Islanders who probably still need one more adult on their blue line could bring back a second round pick or two. Oduya has a limited No Trade Clause that would have to be worked around, but clearly those aren’t as etched in stone as any player wants to believe.
  • Michal Rozsival – $2.2 million through 2015 – While there might not be much tread left on Rozy’s tires at this point, he can still be a useful defender for about 50 regular season games, and with the Young Go-Hards platooning with him, that should be possible to manage. But his $2.2 million is probably a little overpayment for that at this point, and the Hawks could conceivably lose him without missing much of a beat. However he has a full No Movement Clause, and Stan would need to find a taker who feels like they’re one veteran depth guy away and likely have to take next to nothing in return.
  • Nick Leddy – $2.7 million through 2015 – Leddy’s name has been popping up in this discussion rather frequently given his age and potential and the return he could grab, mostly due to him basically needing to shit or get off the 3rd pairing pot and take tougher assignments. A movement of Oduya would most certainly signal a vote of confidence for Leddy, Stan’s first major acquisition and Golden Child. And again, with how the market for defensemen has been and the Hawks’ inability to take much more than picks in return, giving up on a mobile, 23 year old defensemen already with 258 pro games played and two 30+ point seasons with a low cap hit and still under team control as a restricted free agent seems to be selling awfully low.
  • Bryan Bickell – $4.0 million through 2017 – An interesting idea, considering he just re-upped and has a limited NTC, but Bickell’s $4.0 coming off the books would certainly help with the tagging aspect and give the Hawks some maneuverability. His availability likely depends on Kevin “Stairwell Dump” Hayes signing his ELC, as Bickell remains the only Hawk forward with genuine size. Critics will point to his lackluster regular season scoring numbers, but his underlying metrics remain as solid as ever and that shows itself in the playoffs when things get tighter. A long shot at best.
  • Patrick Sharp – $5.9 million through 2017 – The name that doesn’t go away, though the longer time goes on, the more unlikely it seems. The addition of Richards at the price he came in at likely included his being sold by Stan on playing along side the likes of Sharp to help win a Cup and repair Richards’ image. It also signifies for the most part that The Core ™ probably gets one more whack at The Chalice before things get dicey with Kane and Toews’ new paper. Sharp has a full no trade/no movement clause, and to trade a team’s leading scorer while being bent over the barrel on his destination of choice (if he even wants to go) and take pennies on the dollar back doesn’t seem sensible now, and there’s no guarantee that whatever amalgam of young wingers is going to replace his nearly automatic 30 and 30. But stranger things have happened.
  • Brent Seabrook – $5.8 million through 2016 – Another nuclear option, though given what Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik are pulling in, an enticing one, as the Hawks have depth on the blue line and could possibly take another cheaper, younger, promising piece back. This, again, is all based on the body of work over the last two years where Seabrook has looked to be a bit off-stride even in spite of some of his numbers. Obviously, if he goes back to being “Brent Seabrook”, this isn’t a trade anyone makes. But he’s 29 now, and that’s not generally a time when players still have an upwards trajectory, even if a defenseman’s career arc is a little bit longer and protracted than a forward’s. An incredibly unlikely scenario, but one that would certainly yield an amazing return given this marketplace.

  • thprop

    I think Versteeg and Rozsival solve the problem and would be my favored move.

    • Brain Sprain

      Nobody wants them at full price.

      • lizmcneill

        Lucky Steeg is already at half price, eh?

        • Brain Sprain

          When I said Versteeg at full price, I meant half price of tallon contract. Full blackhawks price.

  • Peter Turner

    Probably Leddy or Steeger. Rozie has a NTC. I think Steeger has one last shot to prove himself at the training camp otherwise he’s done.

    • wowwowweewoo

      Not that I’m expecting a complete 180 on steeger, but I’m curious what he looks like with another year of rehab on the knee. I think he’ll still turn the puck over, but he could also bring his scoring touch/confidence back, then all the errors aren’t so awful.

  • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

    So the most cost effective options seem to be:
    A: 1 ea of Sharp or Seabs.
    B: Bicks and 1 of the following: Steeg, Rozi, or Leddy
    C: Oduya and 2 of the following: Steeg, Rozi, or Leddy
    D: Steeg, Rozi, AND Leddy.

    Any of these leave us needing a cheap fill in or two for the inevitable injury to Hossa’s back, Sharp’s shoulder, or Toew’s brain.

    • Brain Sprain

      My goodness. Bolland gets $5.5 and we want to get rid of Sharp? Who do you want on the top 6 to replace him? Bickell? The Blackhawks are better with Sharp. 30 goal scores are expensive and hard to replace. After Tuesday Sharp looks VERY cheap to me.

      • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

        We don’t HAVE to get rid of Sharp or Seabs, they are just an option, one of many.

        • Brain Sprain

          You are right. I am probably to defensive on Sharp after all the bashing he has been getting. It doesn’t make sense to me, all the Sharp bashing. Its like crow bashing.

          Not by you, but on the radio and comment sections.

          • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

            Don’t know if we’re bashing Sharp so much as being cold heartedly objective.

    • birdhead

      Surely Bicks or Oduya by themselves would sort it. The Hawks don’t need THAT much cap space.

      • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

        True that either one would make us compliant, but I’d like to have a little wiggle room for a midseason trade.

        • birdhead

          A midseason trade to fill in the depth lost by trading to get under the cap? 🙂

  • jhb

    Rozsival’s contract went from full No Movement last year to Limited No Trade for 14-15, according to Capgeek.

    • lizmcneill

      Also, Oduya is 32, turning 33 in October.

      • AirTrafficAJ

        It’s weird the number of times I yelled at the TV “come on Rozie, you old bag of bones”, only to realize a few seconds later he is 2.5 years younger than me. Then I put my head down and walked out of the room while the sad Peanuts music played me off.

  • The Other One

    Fun fact – the number the Hawks actually have to nuke at 22 players is $1,322,628 because I’m assuming that TT is actually going to start the season in the Rock (capgeek has them at 23 players, including TT). So, if Roszy or Versteeger get launched, the Hawks are all set…

  • ClusterPuck

    Are you on the score? Or is someone just reading your article?

    • Brain Sprain

      They did read the Sharp article word for word. Only Barry Rozner and Rosenbloom know hockey on that station and they are fill ins.

      • DJ

        Rosenbloom knows hockey? Compared to the pinheads at the Score, perhaps. Compared to the general population, no way.

        • The Nutbrown Hare

          Yeah, you may be right, but at least he actually TALKS about hockey.

      • Commit88

        Lol I see SR at the cigar shop I go to.

    • Yes, that was me.

      • Brain Sprain

        Did they know it was you? Or do they think” Mr. Chainsaw” is just some random dude? Lack of intelligent hawks talk on 670 drives me nuts.

        They don’t talk cap, power play, ice hogs or PK teams. It’s seriously frustrating. Maybe you guys can get some advertisers to sponsor a weekly pod cast. So I can listen and learn.

        • Yes, Bernstein knows it’s me, he reads us. Rosey might have but I doubt it.

  • unkind

    Another reason i love this blog, the references to punk music and good music in general. Brad religion.. hilarious. Thanks for all you guys do. Really interesting to see what Stan is going to do in the next few days / weeks.

  • denislemieux

    Oduya is the best choice. It opens enough dough, a spot for one of the kids and should return a decent pick.

  • It’s amazing how much the organization values being able to “control” the message. Never really put much thought into until recently.

  • Brain Sprain

    Funny thing, after the craziness on Tuesday, Bickell’s contract looks a lot more sane. I think he would be easy to move if SB was so inclined.

    • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

      Makes me think that even if we have to pay DDN 10 MDo each, in three years it will look like a bargain.

  • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

    PD grading the teams in free agency.

    San Jose Sharks
    John Scott. One year. $750K. Oh, and Ice Girls. GRADE: F

    • spotlight312

      Sharks don’t have ice girls. They have the same bunch of ppl in janitorial services that clean your office after work come out and shovel the ice.

      • birdhead

        They’re about to introduce them and it’s pathetic.

  • Joe Banks

    If somebody is nutty enough to pay Vrbata 5 mil, then somebody HAS to be nutty enough to take Versteeg…

    • thprop

      The salary floor is $51 million. Versteeg might be a good pick up for a team looking to reach the floor for a year.

      • jordyhawk

        I keep saying Calgary. Include the rights to Kevin Hayes so they can sign him before he becomes UFA on Aug 15. We would barely need anything back in return for it to make sense for both sides.

        • Joe Banks

          Sounds good to me

        • ballyb11

          Why would Hayes sign w Calgary and not the Hawks?

          • jordyhawk

            Two reasons. One, he wants to play in NHL immediately and would have trouble making our team right now. Two, his college linemates (Gaudreau, Arnold) are in Calgary already.

        • Commit88

          This is a good idea. I keep hoping Hayes signs with the hawks, but I guess it seems very unlikely.

  • thepuckstopshere

    No trade clause… shit what a deal. Wish I had something like that at work so I could go tell Lurch (my boss) to stay the hell out of my LZ.

  • Clubstav

    The ideal scenario, though Rozi not going to bite, would be something happening and Rozi traded (given away). Versteeg maybe should get one last chance to see if he can recover from that injury that never left him the same. Even with that the Central Division is already going to be full of corpses at the end cause I think that with the playoff system of interdivisional knockouts whoever gets through will not have much in the tank. So better not lose anyone else except Rozi

  • Rufus T. Firefly

    Rosival is the best bet here. Forget about Sharpie or Leddy. Sharpiestill is the teams sharpshooter and wildly popular in Chicago. Leddy is a Stanbow pet and is the fastest guy on the team. Steeger is viewed by management as having come back too soon from serious injury and will be better now having time to heal properly. Oduya settled down the mess the ‘Hawks had with d-men when he arrived. Remember Old Donald, Motador and Scott on the blue line? I’m trying to forget. When the boys in Rockvegas are ready then Oduya will find a new home but not until then. Bickel is the “big guy” who expected to do the heavy lifting come playoff time and there is no one to replace him. D-men like Seabrook don’t grow on trees or in most organizations in hockey. In spite of the knocks on him regularly posted here and elsewhere, Seabrook is highly regarded throughout the league and any replacement would be a big step down. Seabrook goes nowhere. Rosival is the most easily replaced d-man and he will accept getting moved, they always do, even if with a tear in their eye. If not there is always the possibility of putting him on waivers. Someone will take Rosey and his salary if necessary. If not they would store him in Rockford. I believe that would make him not count against the cap.

  • Commit88

    My original idea is to trade Rozsival or Versteeg. Preferably Versteeg