Thursday, June 24, 2010

OH NOES!!! The Sky is Falling!!!

The day all true Hawks fans, ones aware there was hockey in Chicago before April, knew we were going to see. The first big chunk of overinflated Stanley Cup salary was unloaded. The Hawks sent Dustin Byfuglien, Brent Sopel, Ben Eager, and prospect Akim Aliu to the Atlanta Thrashers for Marty Reasoner, former Chicago Wolves fan favorite Joey Crabb, prospect Jeremy Morin, the 24th and 54th overall picks in the upcoming NHL draft. You would have thought Michael Jordan signed to play with the Washington Wizards, or Wayne Gretzky was traded to the LA Kings, based on some people's reactions. The only people who have smegma on their faces are the people ran out a month ago and plunked down $190 for an authentic Byfuglien jersey. I hope you enjoyed your 4 weeks of die hard fandom. Bandwagon jumping is a complicated process. If anyone had a Sopel or Eager jersey, they just deserved to have $190 taken out of their bank account, doused in gasoline and lit on fire. Here is a little nugget of information about this move; it's a good, smart move for the Hawks. Anyone who says they could have gotten more, doesn’t pay attention to Cap-onomics. They were very close to the cap and have players to re-sign. Every GM in the NHL knew this, so their bargaining position is pretty poor.

Those of you that have watched a significant portion of the three full seasons with the Hawks know the true Dustin Byfuglien, and not the one who basically parked his butt in front of Roberto Luongo and Evgeni Nabakov for a handful of games. His last three seasons he has posted 34 points, 31 points and 36 points. That's all. In the playoffs he had 9 points in 17 games last season, and 16 points in 22 games this season. Serviceable, certainly, but not worth $3 million a season. During the regular season he is basically lost in the mix, and had no real regular line mates. Of course, the Hawks played significantly smaller defensive personnel in San Jose and Vancouver, so Buff looked like a beast. When someone close to his size, like Pronger, was on him, he was invisible. All this being said, he was an important part of this year's magic, but expendable. The Hawks have a few big, younger, and cheaper bodies ready to take a spot.

Brent Sopel, is a big hunchbacked, slow, caveman. He blocks shots like a beast, and was a stud on the penalty kill, but so is the younger, faster, and more talented RFA Niklas Hjalmarsson. So, we basically traded Brent Sopel for the room to sign Hjalmarsson. That is a win in any GM’s book. Thanks for the entertainment and making us laugh in those endless Geico commercials that VS and Comcast Sportsnet play.

Ben Eager is, well, Ben Eager. A cement head, and very easily replaced . He was a free agent anyway, so they only traded away his rights. The two things I’ll remember most about Ben are his slick goal in the Winter Classic, and of course, his game winning goal against Philly, 28 seconds after Hossa scored. Enjoy Atlanta, Ben.

The part that surprised me the most is Aliu. He was picked up last year as a “Byfuglien lite”, but it looks like the organ-I-zation wasn’t happy with his progress. This move will open the door for a young player that a lot of people aren’t aware of yet, named Kyle Beach. By all accounts he’s a lot slimmer than Buff, but twice as annoying to play against.

In return the Hawks got a couple of marginal players and a prospect that has some potential. Reasoner will probably replace Madden and Crabb will probably end up in Rockford where he can be a fan favorite for yet another Chicago area minor league team.

Your guess is as good as anyone else’s about Morin. One scouting report says, “A goal scorer at heart, Morin attempts creative maneuvers with the puck. He's just a bit slow putting things together and may not be as successful at higher levels. Skating is not his strong suit. Running into teammates on the ice makes one question where his head is at times.” I’m not so sure what to take out of that, but he had 83 points (47 goals, 36 assists) in 58 games last season for the Kitchener Rangers, in the OHL. This is a little draft interview on him from ’09:

Moving forward, I expect to see Hjalmarsson and Niemi signed and possibly even have Ladd back. At this point it’s 50/50, but I believe Versteeg’s salary will be dumped, too. I’m also reading rumors of Colin Fraser to Edmonton for a 6th round pick. I’m happy with any of that action, because the core is untouched. This all means the door has opened for some of the Hawks young talent to finally make a splash. Jake Dowell, Bryan Bickell, Kyle Beach, Jack Skille, Mathis Olimb, Rob Klinkhammer and Shawn Lalonde are all new names you could see getting some time with the team. Last but not least we have the albatross that is Cristobal Huet. Over $5 million of bench warming goodness. In an easy alternate universe, the Hawks could trade him, but no one wants that salary or his fragile ego, so either we release him and eat his salary or send him to Rockford, because he CANNOT sit on the bench making that next season. That money needs to be allocated somewhere else. Good luck cleaning this one up, Stan the man.

UPDATE - Colin Fraser was traded to the Oilers for the 151st overall pick in the draft. :snore:

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