Shuffling Deck Chairs

In a couple of long overdue moves, GM Stan Bowman finally cleared out enough room to bring back Marcus Kruger for one year, at the expense of Kris Versteeg and Joakim Nordstrom.

First and most importantly, the Hawks retain the services of a homegrown center who is one of the most uniquely dominant role players in the league. Kruger waited patiently for his new contract and in the end took yet another bridge deal from the team knowing how handcuffed they still are with the salary cap, and there are no easy answers coming forward. The Hawks have basically postponed this dilemma another year, and it’s safe to assume that if the team finds itself in a similar financial bind next year (and there’s no reason to believe they won’t), that Kruger has been given assurances he will not be strung along. In theory there’s nothing stopping the Hawks from giving him an extension for 16-17 and beyond in short order and managing to get two different cap hits on the books for Kruger in two short years. Something to consider.

On the ice, despite the tremendous amount of roster churn the Hawks are as deep at center as they’ve ever been in the Bowman/Quenneville era, with Toews and Anisimov as a clearly defined pivots, and the option to play any number of Teuvo, Tikhonov, Dano, Shaw, Desjardins, or even Danault while Kruger ably mans the fourth line and generally makes his linemates better while playing some of the harshest minutes in the game.

To make this happen Bowman dealt Versteeg, Nordstrom, and third rounder for two defenseman bodies in Dennis Robertson and Jake Massie, as well as a fifth round pick in 2017. Robertson is a 24 year old 6th rounder who only last year played a partial season in the AHL, and Massie is a 6th rounder drafted out of Boston area AAA midget club play this year. So basically nothing.

More importantly, their exit moves $2.8 million off the books; Versteeg at $2.2 (with Uncle Dale now going dutch with the Hurricanes) and Nordstrom at $600K on a two way deal and no guarantee to make the Hawks club and subject to waivers. This hilariously marks the 6th time that Kris Versteeg has been traded before his 30th birthday (BOS->CHI, CHI->TOR, TOR->PHI, PHI->FLA, FLA->CHI, CHI->CAR), and will likely be traded again at the deadline being in the last year of his contract and assuming the Canes are bad again, which they will be. With his 30th birthday in May of 2016, that would put him at 7, which would have to be some kind of record.

And it’s pretty easy to see why he keeps getting traded. Since his return Versteeg had about three months of effectiveness at the begging of last year when Garbage Dick made dragged him along for the ride surrounded by some woefully ineffective and maddening play. Versteeg will probably never fully get back the burst he once had before his ACL surgery, making the round-about paths over the blue line even that much slower developing. He was competent enough in the latter half of the Final, but it didn’t warrant hanging onto him. Joakim Nordstrom is just a guy.

While the several hundred upstart sites to the CapGeek throne (sky point Matthew Wuest) have the Hawks with varying degrees of cap space anywhwere from $4.2 million to $1.1 million, the fact of the matter is that there are still moves that need to be made. The blue line needs another NHL caliber body even if the team is high on Svedberg one way or the other. And that’s with Kruger’s salary not yet hitting the presswire just yet. With it only being a one year deal, it’s safe to assume it will likely only be the minimum raise over his salary of $1.325 million last year per the regulations of qualifying offers to restricted free agents. And even now with him back in the mix it’s still slightly shocking that he waited around as long as he did and there were never even the slightest rumors of offer sheets for such a valuable asset. His loyalty is to be commended for now, but it will need to be repaid in the form of actual cash, no matter how good the lingonberries are at Tre Kronor on Foster.

One interesting way for Stan Bowman to play alchemist was floated by none other than HockeeNight’s Forklift, who in a moment of clarity amid decades of senility tossed out the idea of trading Bryan Bickell to for what is now the ended career of Ryane Clowe, similar to what the Leafs did to get rid of David Clarkson. Clowe will never play again and the Hawks have more liquid cash than the Devils do, and could afford to continue to pay Clowe and receive the LTIR overage of his $4.85 million salary, while the Devils actually pay out of pocket for a live body in the form of Bryan Bickell. But this situation still requires monitoring even as camp rapidly approaches.


  • OMFS88


  • Gabble Ratchet

    I always thought Nordstrom looked like he stepped out of a Vermeer painting

    • Research Analysis

      Vermeer was never responsible in his own end.

    • The similarities ARE striking… 🙂

  • WookRN

    Hey, are these comments locked?

    • ItalianBeef

      Nope. You seem to have made it in here pre-meltdown.

      • SamFels

        I prefer the combo.

        • WookRN

          Where can you get a good Italian beef combo? Wait, that is what you meant, right?

        • ChicagoDog

          with hot peppers…

          • 60MinutesBaby60

            Sweet peppers here … and sangwitch nicely “dipped” thank you.

            PS – Pepper & egg rec: Hungry Dawg drive-in 6000 W. Belmont bout a mile west of the XRT antenna.

    • ChicagoDog

      Just wait for it. I’m sure the righteous indignation is building, then McClure will insult more readers, lock the comments, and pout again because people have views that are slightly different than his. That’s how you build a successful brand right? We’re going on what the 3rd or 4th time now since “Kane-gate” occurred…I’ll bet we reach at least 5 before it all concludes. What kills me about that, is not a single commenter came out in defense of Kane, the closest anyone got to that was “let’s maybe wait for some facts”, and dude has a melt down, insults readers, and locks the comments. Definitely not TCI’s finest hour…I was reading this and thought to myself “Oh how refreshing, he’s back to legitimate hockey analysis…then he calls Kane “Garbage Dick” and I was like “oh…well there you go…” I guess he couldn’t resist slipping one shot at Kane in there. For the record I’ve been a reader since the beginning, but never a commenter because I never felt I had anything to add, and I suppose I still don’t, but if there is a product that used to bring me immense joy, and the quality slipped, I usually contact customer service to let them know. The comment section is as close to customer service as TCI has. I fully expect to banned for expressing my opinion on the recent decline in quality, given the recent name calling and comment thread locking by McClure, but really that’s ok with me, I will just melt back in to the shadows and find a different blog to read and somewhere else to spend my dollars/give page views/click ads, but I’d rather not have to.

      • WookRN

        Eh. I got banned from their Facebook, and it was quickly resolved. To me, there are MANY contributors, FifthFeather, Bureau Chief, Jen LC, etc. And McClure’s writing was also funny and witty, as I’m sure it still is, though admittedly, my frustration with his attitude had me skip his recent article.

        All that said, brand, fan base, etc. To me, this has always been Fels’s baby. And it still is. And while I’ve disagreed with him on the Kane situation, when he locked the comments, he explained why (didn’t want to deal with the brush fire, so he locked them ahead of time, not after the fact), when I got my ban I brought it up to Sam and IMMEDIATELY received an apology and a welcome back, and he hasnt been insulting the readers. I live in Iowa, not the most hockey centric state (well, now there are a million band wagon Hawks fans, but that aside,) and this was my portal. I read the SHIT outta this thing, and the forum here has been a place to find friends (Hi Sopel the Catfish!) And honesty, I’ve emailed Sam a few times and he’s a helluva guy.

        I, as well as I presume most of us, respect that McClure is Sam’s friend, and that gives McClure a lot of leeway, but don’t let McClure run you off. The rest of the writers (and probably McClure still) are amazing and passionate writers, and if you’ve ever met Sam, you know he’s bled for this “rag.” The dust will settle, tomorrow will come, and we’ll have the same amazing program we’ve always had. I’ll see us around.

        Let’s Go Hawks.

      • 60MinutesBaby60

        Bro please break LONG paragraphs into shorter ones. MUCH easier reads for AGED codgers like me.

  • seabsrat

    Verbeauty has always seemed like wasted talent to me. He did contribute to some solid play in the final, but was so often a source of irresponsible play with the puck the other 90% of the time. Glad he could give us some breathing room for #16.

  • Jim

    Kane’s 10.5M would be nice to have right now. For that kind of money, you can get Stamkos, Perry, Crosby, Ovechkin. Instead we got …..well….never mind….

    • WookRN

      But then you’re stuck with Crosby or Perry.
      Kane is still an elite player, and I’m still waiting to find out his ACTUAL, not presumed, level of guilt.

      • Jim

        From what I’m reading on the internets, it can be a long wait.

        • WookRN

          Eh, that’s ok.
          Soon it will be hockey season and we’ll all have something to talk about again…

          I miss hockey season.

          • Jim

            I look forward to the games.

            Prediction: Kane misses a bunch of the season, comes back for a 20 game tuneup, and is ready for the playoffs (much to the chagrin of the Blues/Preds/Wild). We don’t really need him for the regular season anyways. And we know how Q likes fresh legs

          • WookRN

            Still depends on what happens.
            Not guilty verdict, he misses maybe a month.
            Settlement, maybe a couple months.
            And that all depends on WHEN things happen. You may well be right.

    • HawkIPA

      Well, Stamkos still hasn’t been extended, and that a lot of that 10.5M could become available if the Hawks dumped Kane. Pipe dreams, I know, but you’d have to think Stamkos would be interested in joining the Hawks as a UFA if he had the chance.

  • DanO

    2010 we win the Cup and Versteeg raps at the
    parade. He got traded. 2015 we win the Cup and Versteeg and
    Nordstrom rap at the parade. They get traded.

    • Jim

      This year they are safe, they will not be rapping at a Carolina Cup parade.

    • HawkIPA

      Ha, I forgot that Nordstrom joined in!

    • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

      Trade all the rappers.

  • Dangles-a-Plenty

    I was wondering why they signed Nordstrom to a one year deal… Then methinks he could be a pawn used in a dump trade. Thank Hossa. We get our little Swedish Secret back. Hopefully 11-16-65 can pick up right where they left off.

  • HawkIPA

    Glad to have Kruger back in the fold. He’s a key to so much of what the Hawks do, checks the top competition, takes pressure off Toews, and pushes possession back into the offensive zone. Well done, Stan, and thanks for the patience Krugs!

  • B.I.G. Forever

    …On the Titanic

    Kane is the face of this franchise. Kane’s 88 is still the number one selling jersey. Kane has 31 goals and 36 assists in the playoffs dating back to 2008.

    My point: Kane is not replaceable and I cannot see this team going the distance without him, at least in the short term.

    • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

      I agree… almost.

      As long as we’re talking ‘What If’s’

      The only way I see us playing without Kane is if Kane is out of hockey all together (how’s that for treading gingerly), and if he’s out of hockey all together, his 10.5 will eventually come off the books. It would be interesting to see what Uncle Stan could do with that.

      • B.I.G. Forever

        He cannot be replaced. Not Stamkos – not anyone. If he did this – I don’t want him on the team – but it’s still the saddest thing in Chicago sports lore since Jordans dad was shot. Without Kane I don’t see it.

        • WookRN

          That’s the rub.
          IF he did it. None of us do…

    • Jim

      In a must goal situation, with the whole world watching, against impossible odds, against heavy competition, I’ve not seen anybody with icy nerves and the skill to match as Kane. Except, maybe, Toews.

      Remember the Kane goal to tie it against Nashville 2010? Then against Philly in overtime to win the SC? How about a bunch of goals against the Kings to win the WCF? How about Game 7 against Tampa Bay to ice it (on a sweet feed from Richards)?

      • B.I.G. Forever

        Agreed.. he was as clutch as clutch gets. It’s that characteristic that separates Kane from the other RW All-Stars in the league like Kessel, Perry, Ovi and so on. I remember Nashville and later the Hossa penalty and OT goal. And La. And Philly. And yes, icy nerves is the right description of these two.

        Toews is the more complete, two way player with better defensive habits. And that water bottle video that’s going around (plus 3 cups, one conn smythe, gold medals etc.) proves Toews can be as skillful as anyone. Building a new franchise? Toews is my first choice over EVERYONE including Sid and Ovi. Building a fantasy team? Sid or Ovi win out.

        Kane was like a better version of Pavel Datsyuk. He was hockey’s version of Michael Vick or Deion Sanders. Lights out athleticism at the highest level on the biggest stage.

    • B.I.G. Forever

      Personally, I don’t see him wearing our beloved Indian sweater again. And, just to hammer this home, if he did what he’s being accused of doing, I don’t think he’s worthy to wear it. It’s sad what happened, but what a run.

      • Jim

        I believe he’ll be back, but in the 2nd half of the season.

        They tell airplane pilots in an emergency to act on the most likely scenario. I’m just talking hockey here, not social responsibility. In that spirit, I think the most likely scenario with Kane is the legal process takes some months to unfold, and he does not play NHL hockey during that time. This turns into a he said/she said without witnesses, and he walks with no conclusive guilt (again, the most likely scenario statistically, 98% of these cases do not end in conviction). The Hawks play him in the stretch run and the playoffs.

        After that, the Hawks may find a way to divest themselves, and get some 1A talent to play RW. We’ll know by that time what the haul from Columbus in the Saad trade can be.

        This might even be a plus. Kane’s spot opens up the opportunity to give other guys a lot of playing time to develop.

        • B.I.G. Forever

          I see that as a possibility. Like others have said: get him a 24//7/365 bodyguard/babysitter (Toews?) – zero alcohol – zero tolerance. They win more cups. When the 30 for 30 comes out we can all cry together and thank Stan and John for sticking with the Kaner from our La-Z-Boys. If he is indeed innocent – I hope this happens.

          There is a therapeutic element to this fine site where a conversation can happen that doesn’t have to involve everyone running to the front of the line to proclaim how bad rape is (cough Dan Bernstein cough). The woman and her well being ARE more important than our elegant sport. Rape is horrible….we’ve gotten this out, we know. But I think the narrative missing from a certain early afternoon Chicago sports radio show/media is one that doesn’t constantly proclaim how bad rape is without talking about ANY other piece of the story. There is another conversation – like the business and hockey implications to this. It’s OKAY to discuss this part of the story. It doesn’t mean you are a meatball.

          Stanley can make magic out of 10.5 and it opens a whole new world of possibilities to add serious talent to the roster. With that said, again, Kane is a once in a generation talent. I don’t know a RW in the league I would take over him (except OVI).

          • Jim

            I wish Kane had quit drinking, and lost his local entourage. But that horse is out of the barn, and here we are.

            If this was anyone other than Kane, the decision is easy, you throw him overboard, and cut him post haste. But Kane is the only guy in the NHL (again, besides Toews) who can score a goal, on demand, In OT in Game 7 of the SCF (or WCF, or First Round). And that kind of talent is priceless, hence the 10.5 Max Contract.

            That’s what makes this so tricky. I guess the real answer is to quit watching the Hawks if they play Kane. But I like watching the Hawks, and I like watching them win, and standing next to the Cup. And Kane is why they’ve won Cups. Hockey is supposed to be binary, black and white, and now it becomes an ethical decision whether to watch the Hawks.

          • WookRN

            Not an ethical dilemma YET.
            I’ve not heard anything worse, at this point, than day one. He’s not guilty YET.

            He’s Schrodinger’s right winger…

          • B.I.G. Forever

            I would say to that: If Kane plays again by default a level of innocence has been attained that puts John and Stan in a place of comfort, at least enough to trot him out before the fanbase once again.

            In the 1960’s, one could say the Top 3 transcendent national sports figures were Joe Namath, Cassius Clay and…Bobby Hull. There is a statue of the man outside the UC. His fat red face is shown every few games and everyone cheers. Yet .. Bob beat his wives. Are we unethical if we cheer? A fair number of the artists, painters, musicians, actors, athletes etc. that I enjoy leave something to be desired in the human being department. Many of them are drug addicts. Some of them hurt people. But we pay our nickel to watch because of the WORK. Can one respect the WORK without condoning the bad AWAY from the work?
            I don’t have the answers.

            I do also wish Kane would have quit drinking and lost the meathead crew. Damn him for putting himself within 100 miles of a situation like this. Damn him for tarnishing his legacy and this franchises reputation. This is something that doesn’t just wash off.

          • 60MinutesBaby60

            Used to hang w/ this really decent woman. Decent here meaning attractive as in shapely intelligent and good at cooking too. She gave me a long leash. I screwed up. 2nd chance. Screwed up again. Final warning given. Ignored. (Figured I could talk my way back.)

            I no longer get to hang w/ this woman.

            Hey Patrick Kane, if the Hawks are her, you’re gonna be me – and it’s gonna sting. And the only guy you’re gonna get to blame is the one in the mirror.

            I’m waiting to see where the Hawks stand on this one. No one is irreplaceable. Ha. A lesson I’ve all too well.

          • Black JEM

            Generally a very true statement. In this case it is unfortunately very false. Without him, they are normal. Normal doesn’t do what he and Toews have done on the ice.

            As to ethical? As I have noted elsewhere, I don’t watch hockey to have my ethical feathers stroked. I watch hockey to enjoy and divert. I have no notions that there are not a bunch of jerks suited up as well as some non-jerks. I don’t have the time to determine the difference. If Kane was guilty of more than he said/she said, then he will go to jail. Then it won’t be a problem. If it comes down to a settlement because we cannot get beyond he said/she said and he still plays hockey I hope he is on the Hawks because then they win games and Cups. Simple as that.

          • Jim

            Most of the time I watch hockey alone in the living room, on the big screen. And jumping up and yelling at the TV when something happens. Nobody is there to judge my ethics, so that’s how I’m dealing with this. I like hockey too much.

  • TitanTransistor

    Wouldn’t Clowe’s contract have to be uninsured for a Horton-style deal to make sense for the Devils?

  • ZigZags82

    The Clowe dead money thing for Bickell intrigues me, but doubt StanBo has even considered it.

    (Side note: Why the block on Twitter, Fels? For disagreeing? Ok then)

    • Jim

      ZigsZags, you’re back

      I think Stan would love to do it, but it’s too blatant. With Kabi, at least it was plausable

      • ZigZags82

        In the offseason I’m here and there lol. And yeah it doesn’t seem entirely plausible. I agree. Kabi was a waste though.

  • HarryBalzonya

    Kruger’s deal reportedly for $1.5m

  • Preacher

    Wasn’t this the plan all along?

  • jordyhawk

    Well nice to get the cap space.

    On Versteeg: I’m going to choose to remember you most for the play you made on Vermette’s game 5 SCF winner. It mattered.

    On Nordy: Get higher on the point men and stop squeezing your stick and you’ll stay up. The rest is there.

    Good luck to both.

    • 60MinutesBaby60

      Steeger’s play there was a BIG leaguer move that big leagues guys make during big games. He didn’t bury it but that scoring op was entirely of his – again – big league “make something happen” play.

      For that reaseon – and like Handzuis and yes even Bicks – Versteeg will always have Hawk love from me.

      As for Nordy – can’t disagree at all w/ the critique but still loved that guy’s hustle & heart. Only black mark – and it was a bad one – was the cheap shot that got him – justifiably – 2 games in street clothes.

      I wish both guys nothing but success and now have another EC club to watch & cheer on. (Columbus of course obv.)