• Welcome to the all new, redesigned Puckin Hostile

    The goons here at Puckin Hostile have completely redesigned the website, to better enhance your experience no matter what devices you surf with.

  • The Puckin Hostile Blackhawks Shoutcast

    Join the Hostile crew for this bi-weekly look at the NHL and Blackhawks hockey. Of course, it just wouldn't feel right without plenty of inappropriate jokes and references. Available on iTunes and Soundcloud.

  • Puckin Hostile - Blackhawks News Facebook Page

    If you're one of those Facebook users like the Puckin Hostile page. Click here to be taken over to our page.

  • Puckin Hostile Instagram

    Head over and follow the Puckin Hostile Instagram page. We post up all the latest photoshop creations for you to enjoy. Click here to be taken over to our page.

  • Follow the guys on Twitter

    Follow Gatekeeper (@PuckinHostile), Stankus (@Patrick_Stankus), Bryan (@AtomicFroster), Norton (@PDNorton3), and the Shoutcast account (HawksShoutcast) on Twitter.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Slave to the Grind

I apologize for getting to all this stuff a little late, but I was in Jolly 'Ol England for a couple of weeks, and it's hard to accomplish anything NHL related when there is a 7 hour time difference and no TV coverage. On to the subjects at hand:

  • First of all, Just days after his 71st birthday, it was announced that Stan Mikita has stage 1 oral cancer. The prognosis is great, according to doctors, but my thoughts and wishes are with him and his family. Good Luck, Stoshly!

  • Corey Crawford. This was a "slam dunk", and a "must have". Whatever cliche you would like to use; this was it. There was no doubt that the Hawks needed to go into next season with 26 year old Corey Crawford in net. This year was no time to jerk around with arbitration and offer sheets, and thank god, Stan Bowman made it a priority to re-sign his netminder, before this season was even over. That's one less thing we have to curse him over, come training camp. The preliminary numbers have the annual cap hit at a modest $2,666,667 for three years, which is more than reasonable. If you compare the mere facts of Crow vs. Niemi, the Hawks grabbed a guy that is a year younger, the same physical stature, with more North American hockey experience, for $1.2 million less a season. Crow had much better playoff numbers and an almost identical regular season, with a team that was in transition most of the year. This is a Charlie Sheen style WINNING, in every sense of the word.

    I've made no bones about the fact that I've been a Crawford supporter since '08-'09, when I felt he should have been given the backup spot behind Khabby. I can't say I ever imagined that his journey would ever turn out like this, but he is here, and the Blackhawks starting goalie for next season. I have cursed Dale Tallon more than enough for the "Huet instead of Crawford" ordeal. He has his own problems to deal with, in south F-L-A.

    All the numbers aside, Corey's style and demeanor work well with the Hawks style of play. He is calm, and virtually unflappable. I can't recall a time where he looked visibly shaken, in a game. Niemi, and Turco for that matter, are more physical goalies that sometimes confuse the Hawks D-men with their aggressive and theatrical style. This has shown to sometimes cause chaos, and lead to some pretty unusual goals against. Nothing against Niemi's talent, because he has proven to be a talents netminder, but Crow is a better fit.

  • Alexander Salak. On May 20th, reports were floated by Jesse Rodgers of ESPNChicago.com and later by Chris Kuc of the Tribune and Adam Jahns of the Sun Times, that the Hawks had re-signed the 24 year old Alexander Salak to a two year $600K agreement, which if true, is a deal. Considering that Salak was hitting the cap to the tune of $1.3 million a year, previous. Strangely, nothing has been said since, which would lead one to believe that the information was incorrect. The information had to have come from a credible source, but Rodgers may have jumped the gun.

    At any rate, this would be another important signing, because they need to lock up a legit backup for next season, so they can attend to other issues. Salak is another player I have been crowing about, since the Hawks acquired him with Frodo. I'll be watching to see how this plays out. Nothing has been updated on CapGeek.com, so it is not official with the league, yet.

  • David Gilbert. The Committed Indians reported late yesterday that the Hawks had reached an entry level agreement with 6'2", 20 year old center David Gilbert. Just another big young kid to bolster Rockford. don't expect too much of him, right away, but stranger things have happened, lately.

    Not too much is known about him, other than his size. He played this season in Acadie-Bathurst Titan of the QMJHL, and had 51 points in 52 games. The Hawks brought him up to Rockford late in the year, where he had 3 points in 5 games, and plus 3. His draft profile, in 2009, said the following:
    "Still growing into his body at 6'1 and 184 pounds, Gilbert's main assets are his vision and his hands. Able to skate up the ice with the puck on a string, he's equally adept at making a play as he is at scoring the goal himself. Gilbert still needs plenty of time to round out the rest of his game and would benefit greatly from becoming both stronger and faster. Questions abound about his work ethic as well."

    Take from that what you will, because it really says a whole bunch of nothing...

  • From the Hospital ward, Troy Brouwer and Chris Campoli both had minor surgeries to repair injured appendages. Brouwer had his bum shoulder fixed, and Stromboli had his knee fixed. Brouwer's injury was no surprise, but Stromboli's was slightly surprising. Neither injury is serious, but this could help the Hawks bargaining position, as both players are RFA's when the season ends. Both could very well be back in a Blackhawks sweater, for next season at relatively bargain prices. A healthy Stromboli could really be a breath of fresh air for Hawks fans, that didn't even know he had a very uncomfortable knee ache. Unfortunately, this knee ache had nothing to do with the poor turnover that send the Vancouver Canucks into the second round, and the Blackhawks to the golf course.

  • This was under the radar, but Mathis Olimb decided against staying in Rockford and signed a 2 year deal with Frölunda HC in the Swedish elite league. Maybe the maiming he took in camp from Kyle Beach had something to do with it. Who really knows, but at 25, he looked to be a little short and frail for the grind of the NHL. Not that Marcus Kruger isn't, but they obviously saw something in Kruger that they didn't in Olimb.

    Reports have also been floating around that defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy, who came over from Atlanta in the Andrew Ladd Trade, has left North America to sign with the Atlant (not a typo, try and keep up) of the KHL. Really, good riddance, because he had obviously fallen out of favor in the Hawks eyes. You don't burn up the first year of a 19 year old's entry level contract, if you have a "ready for action" Ivan the Terrible waiting for ice time. The Hawks probably weren't interested in re-signing him anyway.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Blackhawks Reloaded

After the smoke settles, and after we all ran out to buy Nashville Predators swag, what happens next? It's been almost two full years since the Hawks have been, shall I say it, LOSERS!

The Vancouver players, fans and media can all run around the yard clucking like the big COCKS in the coop, but they haven't accomplished anything, yet. You BARELY beat a team you were suppose to beat, and not only beat, but DOMINATE. You were one goal away from orchestrating one of the most epic fails in NHL history. So pat yourself on the back all you'd like, while you continue to win, and lose, games by one goal margins. Keep this charade up, and Bobby Lu will be crying, AGAIN, much sooner than you might think. Welcome to Hate Club, and we're going to continue talking about it all we like. I hope those smarmy Swedish Sedins get their fucking clocks cleaned, because the only real stud on that team is Ryan Kesler. One more thing; Welcome to Capocalypse 2011, you're the grand marshal of the parade, this year. We can't wait til the fans abandon ship, when you dump half of Bobby Lu's supporting cast, in the offseason. We'll be watching, and laughing just like this:

Anyhow, on to more important business; Next Season. Where do they go from here? It's not going to be like it was last year, but it's also not going to be all "Cut and dried". There are question marks abound. Let me be one of the first to outline a few points and scenarios for the offseason and the future. Now this is all speculation, but it's worth thinking about.
  • First and foremost, the Blackhawks MUST lock up Corey Crawford. This is not an Antti Niemi situation, and I'm sure Crawford's agent knows that. Because he didn't win the cup, the Hawks have some bargaining power. Before really seeing the goalie market, I would think we should be able to see him in a Hawks jersey for roughly $2.5 million a year, which is a very fair raise. I wouldn't expect anything more than a 3 year deal, either. He's earned the job, and it should be his to lose at this point. This kind of play deserves a raise and some security:

  • Secure a backup goalie. Marty Turco will NOT be back with the Blackhawks unless he takes an even bigger cut in salary. There are a few notable UFA's, but none I would throw any cash at. The Hawks, and quite a few others, have shown that you don't need to throw a bunch of cabbage at a big name FA goalie, which sure turned out bad for Evgeni Nabakov. The Hawks have been been very successful at finding some home grown talent. Last season, when they traded for Frolik, they also stole Alexander "the Alligator" Salak, from Florida. For my money, they need to resign him, and give him a shot at the backup slot. He's a little raw, but VERY athletic, and if anyone can mold him into an NHLer, it's Stephane Waite.
  • Restricted free agents. As with just about every team, the Hawks have a number of restricted free agents that need to be addressed. Michael Frolik, Troy Brouwer, Victor Stalberg, Jake Dowell, Chris Campoli, and Crawford are all restricted. This means that if another team signs them, the Hawks have the chance to match the offer, or walk away. Same as the Niemi situation last year. In a normal world, the team that owns the rights will let their intentions be known, right up front, but Niemi and his Agent can tell you otherwise. In this group, I could imagine seeing Frolik, and Crawford back, for sure. Brouwer, Stalberg, Dowell and Campoli are all bubble players, but I could see them trying to sign Campoli, too. Yes, he was flakey, but he does have talent, and played for two of the worst teams in the NHL, prior to coming here. He deserves a little slack. I think Brouwer's time has run out, and needs a change of scenery. He's not the big man they thought he was. Stalberg and Dowell are role players that can either come or go. Dowell may have lost his spot to a more solid Ryan Johnson.

    In the system, Salak, Alec Richards, Brian Connelly, Ivan Vishnevskiy, Mathis Olimb, Rob Klinkhammer, Even Brophy, and Nathan Davis are all RFA's, as well. I see them locking up Salak, Olimb, Connelly, and Richards. The rest are really hit and miss.
  • Unrestricted Free Agents. None of the players that the Hawks stand to lose are really worth shedding a tear over. Kopecky, Pisani, Johnson, Hendry, and Turco are the players that the Hawks might lose. If you ask me, and even if you didn't I'm going to tell you, let them all go. Kopecky has shown flashes, but now has concussion issues, and never really found a solid spot. They could probably low-ball him, if they are that "in love" with him. I like what Johnson brought, once he got into NHL game shape, but how many penalty killing, faceoff winning, fourth line centers are out there? Quite a number. If they can get him at the same price, bring him back. The remaining three have played their last games in the Blackhawks gear.

    As far as the prospects coming off the books, the Hawks can lose Hannu Toivonen, Jeff Taffe, Garnet Exelby, and Jassen Cullimore. Toivonen can go; Taffe showed some skill and grit in Rockford; Exelby is an average sized defensive defenseman, and Cullimore played well, but is just too old to keep around.

  • Salary Cap. THIS is where things will get interesting, once again. With none of the free agents resigned, the Hawks will have $8.385 million free. This isn't exactly a plethora of money to spend, to fill 7 spots. They will need to sign or call up a minimum of four forwards, a defenseman (because John Scott is NOT a regular NHL player), and two netminders. That's the absolute bare bones set up to open the season. All this comes to an average salary of $1.19 million per open slot, and that's obviously not very much. Factor in Crow at maybe $2.5 Mildo, Salak at roughly a mildo, and the talk of Jeremy Morin being a fulltime NHLer at $916,666, and you have roughly $4 million to spread around for three forwards and a defenseman. It doesn't take Einstein to figure out that they would have about a million a slot to spend, without even factoring in Frolik, Kopecky, or Brouwer. There is a moral to this story, which brings me to my next point.
  • Clear up some Cap Space. Someone must go, plain and simple, and someone with a large salary. If I was a betting man, and I am NOT, Brian Campbell has played his last game as a Chicago Blackhawk. I will be the first to tell you that I like what he brings to the team, but $7.142 million a year doesn't lie. Before you say that no one would want him, stop yourself. There are enough teams out there with cap room that would make Stan Bowman explode in his Superman underoos, like the Canadiens, Blues, Islanders, Hurricanes, Coyotes, and Panthers. All have OVER $25 million in cap room, for the next season. Yes, Dale Tallon, I'm looking slyly in your direction, with your sexy $41.934 Million in cap space, and fat checkbook. We'll throw you a bone for the Skille/Frolik meatball trade. Soupie for some draft picks, and you have a number one or two defender with a Stanley Cup ring. This would also open up a spot for a big tough defender to play with Leddy, or Campoli, if they resign him.
  • Improvement. It's probably the worst kept secret in sports, but the Hawks talent level took a crucial hit last summer. They were forced to sign players that were past their prime, for the discount, and trot out lines like John Scott/Jake Dowell/Jordan Hendry. If done properly, they can reload this summer. This, of course, is all dependent on the Hawks unloading a big salary, but if Stan could even shave off $5 million, they could be playing with $9 million for 5 open slots. If Soupie goes, they will have $11 million. Lets assume they lock the goalies up, and they sign Frolik. They will need a big tough defender, like a Seabrook lite. There are quite a few on the market, like Shane O'Brien, that could fill the slot. Hell, I'd even take big bad Hal Gill, at a discount. As far as forwards go, there are people like Eric Cole, Curtis Glencross, Max Talbot, and Brooks Laich for fairly reasonable prices. Let's not forget the way the Hawks got pushed around, either. They need some people with an edge, as well, because speed and raw talent isn't going to do it. Kaner will simply end up dead. They could even sign a REAL cementhead like Arron Asham, Dave Koci, Cam Janssen or Zenon Konopka to keep an eye on the Cash Money Millionaires and throw some bodies around, because John Scott is not the answer. The marketing alone, on one of those guys, would pay for their salaries, but I doubt they would concede the Big Show project, and they have him signed for one more year. With enough cap space, the possibilities are endless and the list of free players has everything they would need. These Hawks no longer have to over pay for top notch talent. They took two steps back, last year, but now it's time to take a step or two forward.

There is no perfect matrix to what will happen. Stan Bowman doesn't even know what will happen. The bottom line is that the Hawks need to improve in a few areas, and regroup. It's fun to watch things unfold, and fans WILL have things to be excited about. The core will remain intact, and they will do well. The future is still bright.

Shoutcast Player


Facebook Page

Blog Archive