The Hawks have a couple gluts on among their forwards. And let me first say I didn’t know you could pluralize “glut,” so I’ve learned something today. They are no rife with smallish, shifty, playmaking wingers in Panarin, Teuvo, to a lesser extent Tikhonov, and others. They also are kind of bubbling over with fourth line grunts, with Ryan Garbutt joining Andrew Shaw (despite what the Hawks tell you, that’s what he is), Andrew Desjardins, Ryan Hartman (who will get a look at some point), Marcus Kruger (he’s more than that but that’s how he’s used), if he ever gets healthy Phillp Danault might sneak a look, and if the Hawks feel like being dumb they might try and sneak a jobber onto the ice in Mashinter or Tropp or some other dude who gets easily distracted by shiny things.
We’ll start with CatButt today (yes, that’s what I’m calling him all year. Just deal with it). Needless to say, a lot of Hawks fans weren’t exactly thrilled with his acquisition, as he’s spent the past two or three years annoying the piss out of everyone in combination with Antoine Roussel and The Ginger Ninja Cody Eakin. He’s probably not going to get less annoying here, but at least it will be for the right cause?
Last Season: 67 games, 8 goals, 17 assists, 25 points, -9, 55 PIM, 50.1 CF% (-2.1 Relative), 50.5% Corsi Competition
CatButt suffered something of a market correction last year, as the year previous he put up 17 goals while shooting 10.3%, kind of way high for a 4th liner. Last season, that shooting percentage was cut in half and that’s why you get only 8 goals. He was also played a little higher up the lineup in Dallas than he will be here, as he, Eakin, and Roussel were basically the third line there, and perhaps the most grating unit in hockey.
While CatButt couldn’t carry the play at the team rate last year, he has in the past. He was +2.0% the year previous when the Stars were a playoff team, and for the past two years he’s basically been buried in terms of zone starts, only getting about 42% of his shifts started in the offensive zone. Though as we know how the Hawks use their 4th line when Kruger is leading it, that probably won’t change much here.
CatButt did also halve his penalty minutes last year to 55, and the Hawks do crave discipline so that’s an encouraging sign that he could still be a constant ass-rash and yet not end up in the clink consistently.
This Season’s Outlook: That’s a little harder to pin down. Based on what happens on the top three units, the 4th line could return to the Shaw-Kruger-Desjardins look of last spring and there’s simply nowhere to put CatButt. However, he is versatile and we know how the Hawks love that, and he can give you some shifts at center if you really need it. And if you really need it, you probably have much bigger problems. CatButt can also kill penalties, but the Hawks have another long list of forwards who can in Toews, Hossa (though it might be prudent to get Hoss off the PK to save some legs, but I’ve been saying that for four seasons now), Anisimov, Teuvo has seen some time doing it in camp, Shaw has in the past, Kruger, Desjardins. Let’s just say it’s not a unit screaming out for his help.
Still, with Shaw likely to find his way to fall upwards into a wing spot somewhere higher in the lineup (very depending on what becomes of Bryan Bickell), CatButt could probably slot into his left-side spot on the 4th line and still make for a decent unit. Certainly better than most teams can toss out there from that line. Or the same scenario of Shaw is traded to make some cap room (don’t rule it out, there’s a reason they have this collection of grunts).