Over the weekend, the Hawks pretty much wrapped up their offseason activities by re-signing Marcus Kruger for two years at $1.3m per. It’s another bridge contract, just like Nick Leddy received, however neither one takes Leddy or Kruger to unrestricted free agency. They’ll both be restricted in the summer of 2015, which is shaping up to be quite the eventful summer (though expect Toews and Kane to be locked up way before then anyway).
About the only thing left on Stan’s to-do list is perhaps a two-way deal for Drew LeBlahBlah, but that’s not a guarantee either. Seeing as how the Hawks chased Bob Loblaw for a couple seasons, I’d fully expect them to bring him back and stick him in Rockford as Pirri insurance.
So how did Stan do and where do the Hawks stand?
You really can’t argue with getting Kruger and Leddy back in the fold for just about $4 million combined. Kruger became instantly more important once Bolland was shipped to Toronto, as he’s been pegged as the replacement for him for a couple years (with the buzz being Shaw going back to wing which is really where he should be).
Cap-wise, Michal Rozsival only got a $200k raise from last year, and considering his playoff performance that’s a steal. Rozie is certainly going to have some urpy moments in the regular season, but overall he’s still really solid. No complaints here.
Bringing back Handzus was a surprise, and I really worry that Quenneville won’t give him the 15-20 games off in the regular season he’s going to need to be anything other than a pile of plasma by the time April rolls around. But at just $1 million, this can be a flier that you can discard if it really doesn’t work out.
Leddy is the real watch here, because he has to improve to the point where Oduya is expendable next summer to clear up cap space and possibly make room for either or both of Clendening and Johns (assuming they can get him signed, and his skull-crushing performance at prospects camp probaby didn’t make that any easier). Leddy obviously made huge strides this year and I expect that to continue, but this upcoming season he has to prove he can be trusted with important defensive assignments and not just be a puck-rusher. If he does that, 2.7 is going to be a number we’ll laugh at.
If there’s one concern about this offseason, it’s the Hawks did lose a lot of speed on their bottom six. Whatever you thought of Stalberg and Frolik, they were fast and worked hard and that was the Hawks’ biggest advantage on most teams. Ben Smith isn’t slow exactly, but he’s not setting off radar guns. Morin can move ok, but who knows if he cracks the lineup or not and where he would slot. It’s also a wonder if Morin’s game really translates to a bottom six role, though he did it all right for a couple games last year. He’s more physical than he was, but his best attribute is still his scoring touch and you’d hate to waste that.
Perhaps skating Saad on the 3rd line next year helps with this somewhat, and maybe that’s a solution they’ll try. We know Jimmy Hayes won’t solve this problem either.
Look for this to be something the Hawks might have to address at the trade deadline next March.
Overall, it’s about as good as you could have hoped for. Trading Fro may have been a bit premature, but you understand it. The Hawks can move forward from last year’s team if Saad, Kruger, Shaw, and Leddy continue to develop and Pirri, Smith, and possibly Morin/Hayes/dark horse can actually contribute instead of just trying to plug a leak. But it’ll take some patience, which isn’t something Q has had in abundance.