The Road Never Ends And The Party Never Stops

While us fans are still going to bask in the glow of Monday’s victory and Thursday’s parade (or in my case, Wednesday’s and Thursday’s Kyle Schwarber performance), this week is when the Hawks front office has to start to pivot toward next year, and namely to the point clearing out cap space to get Saad, Kruger, and whoever else they might like into the fold so we can attempt to do this all again in a year’s time.

Watching this unfold, I have to say I’ve been impressed with the local media’s reserved, optimistic tone about what the Hawks can do next year while the national — both here and north of the 49th — have been forecasting doom and gloom and it’s 2011 all over again! As it’s our job to piss on national and local narratives alike, let me poke some holes in this latter view, if you don’t mind.

Ignoring whatever moves are coming, we know for sure (unless the Hawks out-think themselves which they probably will), that the Hawks will raise this banner next October with Toews-Teuvo-Kruger-Danault down the middle (I’m higher on Danault than most, but I also am confident I’ll be proven right). That’s as deep down the middle to start a season, repeat: to start a season, as the Hawks have been since Toews-Sharp-Bolland-Madden in 2010. Would it take a change in contstruction from Q? A little. Q has reveled the past two seasons in rolling basically three scoring lines and one checking line instead of the normal two scoring, one checking, 1 goof formation of everyone else. With Kruger on the 3rd line, it would be hard to call that one a scoring one. But you could certainly still be a very successful team that way. That formation down the middle would be on the small side of course, but the team the Hawks just beat in the Final is on the small side down the middle. The Ducks and Blues are all big down the middle, how’s that going for them? It takes more than that.

At the base of this team, Johnny Oduya (unless he leaves a fuckton of money on the table) walking is going to hurt. No question. However, Stephen Johns is going to step right in and while there’s going to be a hell of a learning curve, he just might provide a little more push from the back than Oduya did, while not providing the defensive assuredness, at least not yet. If Trevor van Riemsdyk is just a solid third-pairing guy (and that’s what I think his ceiling is), the Hawks really only need to have one of Paliotta, Svedberg, Pokka, or nameless veteran they sign (which is clearly going to be Scott Hannan or Barret Jackman and this blog will cease to exist due to mass suicide) to come through to actually have a deeper blue line than last year. It wouldn’t have the high points, but it also wouldn’t struggle so badly at the low points, in case you forgot what Rozsival looked like in the regular season.

No, Brent Seabrook isn’t going anywhere despite the fantasies of every other fanbase in the league. As John said, it’s quite clear just how much he means to this team and I doubt there’s even another candidate to take Sharp’s “A” when he is tossed overboard this week.

So solid down the middle, and solid at the blue line. Gee, that sounds like the basis for a pretty good team doesn’t it? And we haven’t even mentioned Kane, Saad, Hossa, Shaw (could be real effective as a 3rd line winger). Hmmm..

Now, for what the Hawks are losing. Patrick Sharp is certainly going to tug at the heart strings when he goes, and that will deserve its own post later in the week. Kris Versteeg and Bryan Bickell are certainly going to be flogged if anyone will take them. It sounds like a lot to those who aren’t paying attention. But y’ know… it was only 33 even-strength goals during the regular season between them. It was five ES goals in the playoffs. Yes, we documented just how unlucky Sharp was considering his possession and shot numbers (and we did that in February, just so everyone’s clear), but he’s still turning 34 next year.

The Hawks’ prospects at wing aren’t as glittering as those at center and defense. I think it’s curious Mark McNeill is the only one of this generation to not have made his NHL debut yet. I want to believe in Garret Ross, but most in the know tell me not to. Ryan Hartman has a definite ceiling on what he can produce, I think, and it’s bottom six stuff. We have no idea what Panarin can do, honestly. Leading KHL scorers don’t always transfer well. Stephane Da Costa was slotted right above him in points in that league, and right now you’re wondering who that is. My point exactly.

This is why I think there’s talk of bringing Richards back if he’ll take another discounted deal. You could slot Teuvo down, or put him at wing again (don’t do this), or have Danault apprentice as a wing as well, making Shaw available to move up or Hartman or McNeill if they prove it. It should only be another one-year deal (learn your Rozsival lesson, Stan), but it would make sense.

Anyway, I’ll get into the minutiae of it all tomorrow, with the numbers and what it might take to bring in Saad and Kruger reasonably.

  • jordyhawk

    We’ll see how it all plays out but we’re not losing that much, and there are replacement pieces. We actually may be pretty damn good again. I’m excited to see the young guys get shots especially at the back. And if we can snag Mike Reilly even better.

  • Chuck Miller

    I like Teavo on the wing. .. like Kane. I don’t think he fits the Q mold. Richards was just getting up to speed and could come back at a good number. Panarin will be better than you think. And as we know, this is the team until just February.

    • Lemmy

      Teuvo is needed at center.

  • Jane Doe

    How the “checking” line fills out will be interesting. Maybe Desi comes back on a one year keeping the SCF 4th line together, proves himself again and then signs a nice 3 yr, $2-3mil deal elsewhere in ’16 before he turns 30.

    I dont think Krug and Shaw’s performance would fall off in 15-18min a night but not sure about 11.

  • HossasPierogi

    I’m glad to see Seabrook back in your good graces — I’ve always felt (even when he was being panned) that he’s an all-time great Blackhawk. I think getting Richie back is definitely doable (unless he gets full of himself and wants more $$$) and hope to see more of Desjardins. I really hope we can rid ourselves of Bickell and I, for one, wouldn’t mind having Versteeg back.

  • sec. 317

    mike reilly, mike reilly, MIKE REILLY!

  • Matt

    I think the Hawks need to see if Seabrook will sign a reasonable extension this year. If so, then great, you’re set. If not, there’s a big question of whether the Hawks can truly be Cup contenders next year (and that’s Cup contenders, not playoff contenders). If they think they can do that, then you keep Seabrook and hope for the best. If they can’t, then as much as I hate to say it, I think you trade him for a ransom. It’d be a shame to lose him in a trade but it’d be a bigger shame to hold onto him for a year and lose him anyway just to keep him here for a year where they’re not gonna win the Cup anyway.

    • Jane Doe

      Two things: One, and most importantly, he’s not getting traded. Two, what do you think reasonable is? $4mil? $5mil?

      He’s not going to sign an extension in a year the salary cap went down and there’s no way his agent would recommend it. You wait a year and hopefully the cap rebounds next year and then some. Then he has some leverage.

      Guess it depends on how long he wants on his next deal. I don’t see his AAV below $5mil on his next contract. If he only wants 4-5 years I could see closer to $6-6.5, cap dependent. If he pushes for a final contract of 7-8 years, then maybe you get your “discount” of $5 million-ish/per.

      • Matt

        Don’t get me wrong, I want him here and would be more than happy with the numbers you put above. But there were a couple of rumors floating around out there that he’d want $8M per year (and honestly, I could see a team doing that). If it gets to that point I think there needs to be a long, hard look at what the Hawks should do.

        I really hope the cap goes up in the next couple of years because after Sharp and Bickell are gone, the only remaining expendable high salary guy left, IMO, is Crawford.

        • Lionel Hutz

          Have you read anywhere that HE is seeking that? I have only seen some rumors that Edmonton was floating that number.

          • Matt

            No, same as you. But with the way contracts are going, I wouldn’t be shocked if someone would pay him that (or at least close to it). If it gets to that point and he asks the Hawks for that kind of money, I’d get a little bit nervous.

      • lizmcneill

        I do not see Seabs taking *less* money than the 5.9M he currently gets.

        • Jane Doe

          I normally wouldn’t think it either, but………..he’s going to be 31 when this contract is up. If their cap position allows it and the Hawks offer him a “retire a Blackhawk” 8 year deal, don’t you think it might be a possibility he takes Duncs AAV money?

  • Ted Matula

    why do I get the impression that we’re going to wind up seeing Toews-Richards-Kruger-Shaw down the middle to start the season. urg.

    • Shooter

      hey, if we kept richards, that’d make my day.

      • Ted Matula

        I’d be ok with that. Just worried about Shaw still being a center in Q’s mind and TT not

  • Bobby Otter

    Seems to me that the entire Hawks offseason sort of boils down to be able to unload Bickell without taking money back. If the Hawks can shed Bickell and assuming Sharp is moved too, that pretty much allows them to round out the roster with minimal impact. They might even be able to hang on to a few guys as pointed out here.

    However, if they’ve got to move Bickell, but have to take on someone fairly worthless in return? Well then all of a sudden they may not be able to hang on to Kruger. And now we have issues.

    (Unloading Versteeg for nothing could offset having to bring back salary in a Bickell dump).

  • SAMCRO Outlaw

    A lot of the faces have changed not the results. Have a little faith in Stan & we can keep adding to the great HNIC Playoff Montages.
    2010 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MBfGjQeRVA

    2013 https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=14&v=Baj6GWNtp2A

    2015 https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=14&v=EhreJLqptF0

    • Favorite part of the 2015 montage is Kane with his:

      “Better get back home for the roller hockey championships” line

      • Matt

        Did you know that dude actually plays roller hockey? Some fine trash-talking research by Kane.

        • Had no idea, makes it even better

        • lizmcneill

          Kaner knows his facts about other players.

        • cza

          I appreciated the chirp, but now I am in awe of it. Complete game-day preparation by Kane.

          http://ducks.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=675145

          • Sopel the catfish

            Fuck Maroon even more, river scum POS. Props to him for not actually being a douche though, but still, fuck that duck st louis guy. He should try harder to be from Chicago and to play for my team.

          • The_Cheeb

            damn, I love it when I can’t figure out whether or not catfish is drunk-posting………

    • Sopel the catfish

      Holy crap does everyone look young in that 2010 video, even the old guys that were old in 2010 look young compared to now (part of the reason why I myself avoid the mirror, that asshole has never had anything good to say to me)

  • eyemon

    I don’t see Versteeg! going anywhere for three reasons. One, history of injuries would deter trade partners (apparently had a bum knee again in the Final). Two, his $2M cap hit is relatively reasonable bc Hawks-South is paying half his salary. And three, I don’t see the Hawks wanting to boot him just yet. Third and Fourth line players are like middle relief in baseball. They hopefully play even with their matchups and buy time for the top lines. The beautiful thing about this organIzation is dominance that the bottom lines have shown in their Cup winning years. Versteeg! is a fine middle-relief bum-slayer, that if used in that role, will likely stay here for the remainder of his contract.

    • Lionel Hutz

      Was thinking the same thing. He looked great with Vermette on the third line. He’s smarter, quicker, and, dare I say it, more creative than most opposition 3rd liners out there.

  • I said it earlier, Kruger is probably more important to the Hawks than to every other team. Inversely, I think Oduya benefits greatly from the Hawks system and benefits more staying than going (money aside).

    Saad’s not going anywhere (or at least I hope he isn’t)

    Cool with Richards/Desi sticking around so long as its for a year. Hell I’d be ok with a 1-yr deal with Oduya at this point. I think the key point is the 1-yr limit. Do not want a repeat of Rozi, while he was reasonable in 2014 I think we all agree this year was not his finest.

  • Jim

    Lots of first world problems. Depth wins, we saw that with the Ducks and Lightening, both great teams, but not rolling 4 lines, and without 2 solid defensive pairings. Plus, it’s a long season that for the Blackhawks that doesn’t really start until playoffs. Until April, it’s garbage time*, so it would be nice to develop some young players, and look for a trade later when teams become sellers.

    *If you have a streak or two at the beginning of the year, you can basically coast at .500 and make the playoffs. 15 Games over .500 gets the job done, especially when you have shootout players like Kane and Toews.

  • Dangles-a-Plenty

    At first I was leaning towards vermy over Richards resign. But Richards played like a beast with Kaner and that chemistry should be kept in tact if possible. I’m always scared of the Handzus curse when resigning a player after a one year deal…. Also, keep Seabs, shoot Bickell into the sun, love ya sharpie and thanks for everything. Our depth at defense is gonna be the weak point this upcoming season. That’s what I’m most concerned with.

    • Sopel the catfish

      Maybe Stanbo saying he wants a top 6 winger for Sharpie is him really saying he wants a top 4 D-man that is still on an entry level deal?

      • Dangles-a-Plenty

        I could fuck with that for sure. He should get us a decent return. I trust Stan as long as he never ever fucking EVER gives carcillo another deal, even at league minimum

        • Sopel the catfish

          I’ll take him for league minimum, he seems to be a good luck charm for us (hasn’t he been to 3 of the last 4 or 4 of the last 5 SC Finals?). Just let him hang out in Rockford to call him up during the playoffs, and then only 2 or 300K would count against the cap, right?

          • Dangles-a-Plenty

            Fuck me I didn’t even realize…. They could just hang him up on the team bus’s mirror

  • Aaeismacgychel

    I think a lot of this depends on who the Hawks actually move. Remember, all the other teams in the league know that the Hawks need to shed salary, and as such, I don’t quite see the Hawks getting close to full value for any of the pieces we want to trade. I mean Sharp is going to be 34 and he had a really down regular season and playoffs this year. His “empty net” Game 5 goal might look better on paper, but getting $5.9M x 2yr at this point for even nothing in return may be asking a lot. Unless a Florida or Toronto loses their cool over a 3 time stanley cup winner and gets bid happy, I think we’re going to have a lot more trouble moving him than we’re hoping for. Next we have Bickell at $4M x 2yr and I have a have a very hard time believing we can move him. He is basically at his lowest value right now after a poor playoff showing where he might have an issue that makes him unfit to play at a professional level. I dont see any team offering for him unless we retain salary/take a bad contract off their hands. Versteeg we can pry get rid of, but he does have some value at $2.2M, especially if he’s feeling well. So if we have trouble getting value for Sharp and can’t trade Bickell, that puts us in a bit of a dilemma. Seabrook has a ton of value though losing him and Oduya on an already slightly short on depth roster is unimaginable. In fact, unless one would get a really talented cheap young player for him as part of the deal, it’s almost unthinkable. It’d have to be something like a Seabrook for Ekblad or Seabrook for Seth Jones (how insane would that be?) type of trade and I have a really tough time seeing that happening especially with only 1 year remaining on Seabrook’s contract. So I think he’s pretty much untradeable. That would leave only Crawford who would certainly have value at his price and would be the best goalie option out there on the market (Almost a shame Minnesota and St. Louis are in our division in that regard, as if they weren’t, based on how hhe’s performed in the playoffs against them, they’d pry give us the farm for him). As well we do have some depth there in goal.
    Now I think you all know I love Corey and think it’d be hard to fathom giving up a goalie that clutch, but even though Stan said no, a Crawford deal may honestly be the lessor of two evil options we have available to us if other team *cough* definitely don’t collude but wait us out to put us in a major bind *cough*. And while I love Corey and think he’s well worth the $6M we’re giving him at this point if I had to choose between him or Seabrook with our current roster, I think Seabs is the better option despite only having a year on his contract.

    • SAMCRO Outlaw

      June 28, 2014 – The Chicago Blackhawks traded forward Brandon Bollig to the Calgary Flames on Saturday for the No. 83 overall pick in the 2014 NHL draft.

      They’ll get value.

      • Sopel the catfish

        I was at Electric Forest last year when that went down, limited phone service and only update I got was a text from my brother. Never have I ever been happier about a 3rd round pick in any sport trading hands.

  • Aaeismacgychel

    Also, if we can, I definitely would want to see Richards playing for us next year. While there is danger of course giving contracts to older players, he clearly was one of our Top 6 players in both the regular season and playoffs, had great chemistry with Kaner, was by far our best (and perhaps even only) power play option, and really aided our team. True that may not last, but at this point if he was willing to do a $2M/yr x 2yr contract, I’d take that. He is worth far more than that right now and could likely get double that from another team, but if that 2nd year is a sticking point for him and he doesn’t want to sign a 1yr contract, I think that would be a pretty decent sweetheart deal despite the possibility of him Handzusing. He definitely makes our team better next year at $2M even if it’s solely for what he does for us on the PP and I would love to see him back. I think our best hope in everything right now is hoping that Saad, Kruger, and Richards all take sweetheart deals. That’d be the thing we need to happen to be in shape for another title run next year.

    • cza

      And imagine Teuvo’s brain synthesizing the collective input of Hossa, Kane, Richards, and Toews. He’ll be just like that computer in Weird Science, only he’s going to produce something large, silver, and way better than Kelly LeBrock emerging from the smoke.

  • Cluster_Puck

    My worry is who replaces Vermette at the dot? Especially if they make the rule change on defensive draws.

  • Brain Sprain

    Q said he is really excited to coach Baun. He said this last week on hockey central at noon. He actually said the more he sees him the more he likes him. From Q that is a big deal.

  • Brain Sprain

    I’m curious what Desjardins would cost. He was a great puck up

    • Sopel the catfish

      Steak dinners every week from 19 and 88, maybe a car or two also. (although Desi said that he loves to cook I think the boys can work out some kind of deal)

  • Sopel the catfish
    • To Saad be the glory

      Someone needs to give the eulogies a eulogy.

      • Sopel the catfish

        Yup, also, be jelly. I asked him to put Manchild on the zero, he kind of looked at me funny, said “Manchild?” Then I said yes, he smiled, did it, and then I shook his hand and thanked him for the third time.

        • Dangles-a-Plenty

          Fuck. Yes.

        • To Saad be the glory

          Yes,I be jelly. I just got my Saad jersey for Fathers day after sportin Kaner since his 2nd yr in the league. Problem now is are you ever gonna wear it again? I remember when my daughter got Trevor Linden to sign her Canucks jersey (shaddup,dont even start lol) after a game at the old stadium and she hung it up for display and pretty much never wore it again.

          • Sopel the catfish

            I’ve heard rumors of being able to scotch-guard it and lock the signature in, I haven’t spent the time to look it up yet but if it works then hell yes I’ll wear* it again.

    • To Saad be the glory

      Probably because the media and the millions of boltamaniacs are all butthurt because ‘Murica’s team lost brother.

    • Dangles-a-Plenty

      If they aren’t even gonna try, why the fuck bother? TCI should do a eulogy for them. So happy the Hawks fucking won, the media can fucking shove it up their own ass. Fuck off, and LETS GO HAWKS!

      • Sopel the catfish

        I just wish the triumvirate got to do the eulogy for every team, regardless of whether or not they played the Blackhawks. There is more humor in the daily links than most of the eulogies (and the links aren’t even done by the main 3)

        • Dangles-a-Plenty

          Agreed. I suppose we are a little fucking spoiled with these folks (TCI) though. Not mad about it.

          • Sopel the catfish

            Most of us have acknowledged that we are in a blessed time for Hawks Hockey, every time I read hockey articles it makes me realize that we are also in a blessed time for Hawks blogging.

  • Sopel the catfish

    Not sure if this made the rounds yet, but Antoine and his wife are now parents of daughter Emilia Vermette. Congratulations to the Vermy family!

    http://www.sbnation.com/lookit/2015/6/22/8825927/antoine-vermette-blackhawks-nhl-stanley-cup-newborn-daughter-crib

  • Sopel the catfish

    Successful conversion on a PK, USWNT now up 2-0 on Columbia (who is down to 10 players) at the 66 minute mark. Things are looking good for advancing to the final 8.

    • Sopel the catfish

      2-0 final after 5 extra minutes in the second, they will now play China Friday night.

  • Bob Lanz

    Am I totally out of mind for even thinking Sharp could be retained and they would still be under the cap?

    Bare with me for a moment. Saad signs for 5 million, Krueger signs for 2.5 million. Versteeg and Bickel are moved for 6.2 million savings. Here’s my potential lines:
    Sharp Toews Hossa
    Saad Teravainen Kane
    Panarin Denault McNeil/Hartman
    Ross Kruger Shaw

    Keith Hammer
    Johns Seabrook
    TVR ( other prospect)

    Obviously this requires Q playing four rookie forwards and three rookie d-men, and not pretending Shaw is a better third line center than TT or Denault. I know I’m counting on a lot but Denault McNeil and Hartman are all number one picks it’s time to see what they are capable of, same goes for the rest of our prospects.

    • The_Cheeb

      You are dropping bad acid. (sorry couldn’t resist) :^)
      1) The big problem with your math is:
      You are forgetting that Toews and Kane EACH count 4.2 mil
      more against the cap than this year. (The new contracts.)
      That’s 8.4 mil cap room GONE without a single change.
      2) 5 mil might happen for Saad, but 5.5 is my wild guess.
      3) I hope Kruger is only 2.5 mil. An RFA offer sheet
      up to 3.65 mil only costs a 2nd round compensation.

      Dang, see my other post, I hope I’m wrong, but……

      • Sopel the catfish

        I haven’t seen anything that makes me think Kruger is actually leaving, the key 2nd part to any offer sheet is the player actually signing it. Perhaps a team offers Krugs 4 million, but he still wants to stay in Chicago, just because the “other” team offers him 4 mildo doesn’t mean the Hawks have to pay him 4 to stay, just if he actually signs the deal that offers him 4 mil. Wishful thinking on my part, but just because a team may offer him X amount of dollars doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what it will cost the Hawks to keep him as long as there are openings for management at all the local Bennys

        • The_Cheeb

          Catfish, I didn’t mean to say that Kruger will be gone, just that 2.5 mil would be an awful lucky home town discount for his next contract.

          • Sopel the catfish

            I agree, Doug Wilson will probably offer him that 3.65 just to fuck with us, as is his wont

      • Bob Lanz

        I have not forgot about the 19-88 increase. I went to both cap friendly.com and generalfanager.com and did the math. Although I agree it’s not guaranteed, I also presuppose home town discounts for man child and Freddy. My thought process was I would rather keep pay our guys than sign or resign others for 1-2 million. I loved what Richard did but I do think I would rather see what our prospects have than worry about the rosival and hankies effect. Whatever happens I will be excited to see it and I do have faith in Stan. I just hate to see Sharp go just yet… I don’t think he’s done.

        • The_Cheeb

          Well written. I skew pessimistic because it’s mentally safer. Also, if you have faith in Stan, then try to let go of Sharp emotionally. The Blackhawks practice the ideal of “better a year too early than a year too late.” Sharp fits that ideal perfectly.

    • Jane Doe

      If there’s demand from multiple teams for a (soon-to-be) 34 year old “sniper” that doesn’t snipe anymore, has a $6mil cap hit and you’re in cap hell, you move him. Richie is a better option at $2-3mil.

      And, personally, I don’t subscribe to the “it’s time to see what they are capable of” screed for high draft picks. If they’re ready, great. If not, Rock Vegas *is* lovely in the winter.

  • The_Cheeb

    I hope I’m wrong, but I think this board might be collectively smoking crack where trades are concerned. Sharp (5.9mil) and Bickell (4.5mil next year) are the two highest dollar contracts the Hawks will be trying to dump in the golden era. Byfulgien was 3 mil, but a hot commodity at the time. Bolland was 3.4 mil (!) and is the closest comp for what the Hawks would be trying right now. Sure, Bollig got them a third round pick, but he was 1.1 mil at the time. Bolland got them a 2nd, 4th, and 4th. Frolik, 25 years old at the time, on a 1.9 mil salary, got them a 3rd and a 5th. On the good side, they got Oduya for a 2nd and 3rd. They basically got Frolik for Jack Skille. And they dumped John Scott for a 5th round pick (!). On the bad side, all they got for Ladd was a 2nd round pick and some guy named Ivan. All they got for Brouwer was 26th overall pick (they took Danault). I’m trying to stay positive, but I’m concerned.

    • Sopel the catfish

      Hawks will trade Bickell and some pick/prospect to get a pick of undetermined round back, call it a wash whatever it ends up being. Even with the Blackhawks’* back against he cap wall, Sharp will still command a large return. Everything we think we see, GM’s see and then some. Sharp had an off year for points/goals, but his play wasn’t that bad, especially when you look at fancy stats (which all the cool GM’s do nowadays, is there an official stat for posts hit?). Even if we look at it in some form of net zero return (I’m totally using that phrase/idea wrong, but fuck y’all, whiskey!) even if we get nothing back from 10/29 leaving, the remaining pieces of the team and upcoming/current prospects slot the 2016 Chicago Blackhawks years ahead (in a literal and figurative sense) of the 20111 Blackhawks.

      • The_Cheeb

        I don’t doubt that the 10 and 29 contracts can be moved somehow, I just don’t see how everyone thinks they will bring big time returns.

        • Sopel the catfish

          I’m not expecting huge returns on 29 at all, but Sharp is still a legit top talent player. Stan won’t get his full asking price, but people rarely do in trades when you don’t have all the leverage, though I still think we can get at least a first rounder and a body for him (maybe not for this year’s draft though) or maybe the prospect that gets included is the one that gets shipped out with Bickell as a sweetner (how shitty would that be? get traded to the Hawks only to get traded away moments later)