For the second time this season, the Trib’s Chris Kuc has let it be known that the Hawks are after another blue liner in the trade market. This continues a pattern of Stan Bowman the past few years letting everyone in the world know what he’s looking for, which was a trait he had a couple years ago. And nothing gets into the press the Hawks don’t want, so this is no accident. It’s not really that big of a deal, because any punter with a vague concept of the rules of hockey could look at the collection of players dressing as d-men for the Hawks right now, let out a hearty “EEE GADS!”, and conclude the Hawks need someone else.
However, it is strange to make it so clear what you’re after, because every other GM is pretty much going to hold you upside down and shake. And maybe that’s why, so when the Hawks can’t find anyone they can say everyone was asking for too much. But whatever. Where are the Hawks going shopping?
It’s hard to figure out. No team is a seller at this point, and there are only a few declared rebuilders. That’s probably where you’re looking, but finding what the Hawks really need makes it even trickier. Because mobile d-men who are good with the puck and not completely helpless in their own end are something like the hockey leprechaun (and if they’re right-handed, they are the hockey leprechaun). We’ve discussed pretty much every name in private, and there are a couple we think could be available.
The one name we think would be the best idea is John-Michael Liles. Now five years ago, this would have been a great idea, now it’s merely bordering on a good one. Liles is 34, so he’s not completely out of gas. He has consistently pushed the play the other way, with a career rate of 2.4% Corsi-relative and is over 6% above the Canes rate this season. And he’s mostly done that with creatures called Brett Pesce and Michal Jordan. So it isn’t Justin Faulk carrying his ass. Liles is in the last year of his deal, which means what you’d have to give up in return wouldn’t be too severe. But that’s a deal you’d want to do before too long and before other teams come down the aisle and do drive his price up. Liles probably wouldn’t be able to take on the toughest assignments like Oduya did to free up Keith, but could drive the play with Keith doing the mine-sweeping.
Ron Hainsey is another name we seemingly discuss every year, but he is getting carried by Faulk, has an additional year left on his deal and is also 34. Basically, Hainsey is a discount Liles.
Elsewhere, the Flames would probably love to unload either Dennis Wideman or Kris Russell. The Hawks have been connected to Wideman for 27 straight years, but he’s got this year and next left on his deal and he’s bad at…. well, hockey. Russell sucks out loud too, and can’t be trusted with anything other than third pairing minutes and the Hawks currently sport four or five of those.
Another name, and this is a longer shot, would by Tyson Barrie from Colorado. Now, a normal organization would never move a 24-year old, play-pushing blue liner when they have a horrible time hanging on to the puck at all during any game. But seeing as how the Avs are run by a couple of dinguses brought to you by Carl’s Jr., anything is possible. Barrie would be the perfect solution because even though he’s headed for restricted free agency after the season, he could be around here a long time where Q could shape him to fulfill his pedigree. He would probably cost the moon, but he also might be worth it.
We’ve already commented how either of the New Jersey duo of John Moore or David Schlemko could also be a possibility.
Patrick Wiercioch in Ottawa is a name that has been linked to the Hawks before. He’s 25, relatively cheap at $2 million per and in the last year of his deal before restricted free agency. The Sens already seem ready to flog him, his current Corsi-relative is 5% over the Sens rate (which is admittedly not all that hard to do), and he’s done that without being terribly sheltered in zone starts. It’s kind of a middling solution, but it’s probably better than anything the Hawks have on the roster or waiting.
Matt Hunwick in Toronto is another, and a player the Leafs signed specifically to move him along at the deadline for whatever they can get, though he has another year on his deal as well.
Of course, the question is what will the Hawks have to give up in return. And while all Hawks’ fans fantasies involve only giving up Bryan Bickell and his salary, it’s going to take more than that. We know the Hawks probably want to include Rundblad in anything too, but you’ll have to keep going. I have to believe with Q’s fascination with CatButt that Andrew Shaw has to be expendable, because they’re the same guy. Shaw’s salary opens up a lot of possibilities, though it may take an additional 2nd or even 1st rounder to get some of these.