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 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, 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.

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