Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Campoli Racetrack's 5 Miles Long, Oh Do Dah Day

The off-season can never be without drama in good old Chi-town, for the Blackhawks. Last year it was Antti Niemi and Nik Hjalmarsson, and this year it's Viktor Stalberg, Michael Frolik, and Chris Campoli.

All are RESTRICTED Free Agents and all were extended qualifying offers, on time, by the Hawks. This means that the Blackhawks can match any offer they sign with another team, or let them walk away.

In Campoli's case, he was eligible for salary arbitration and chose to go that route, which the Hawks can ALSO walk away from, once a decision is made. I can't say I'm surprised at Campoli's decision, based on the insane contracts Defensemen have been signing this summer. He just wants his piece of that pie. Most of you know how hard I was on Antti Niemi and his agent last year, and might look at this as a hypocrisy this year, but I assure you these are different. Last year, the market for goalies was the worst in recent memory. Goalies were virtually giving their services away for free, and some were just left to rot, like Evgeni Nabokov. This being the case, Niemi and his agent rolled the dice and tried to gouge the market, and the Blackhawks. Kind of a "dick move", if you ask me, and whether did or not, I'm telling you. The gamble worked out for both teams and Niemi, in the long run, because he was able to command a healthy extension in San Jose, and the Hawks found their new hero, in Corey Crawford. Even though the Marty Turco experience was a failure, his contract was hardly a sore thumb. Now the Campoli situation is the complete opposite because teams are paying enormously inflated numbers for marginal players. A player of Campoli's "supposed" skill would have a gripe. Just look, for example, at former Blackhawk and more recent cheapshot artist, James Wisniewski. He was able to hornswoggle Columbus into paying for his services to the tune of $5.5 Million for six excruciating years. The guy is a good player, but not $5 million good. If that is the market value on a puck moving defenseman, then the $3 million Campoli is looking for isn't all that crazy. I'm by no means defending him, but I can see the angle he is playing. This would still be OVER double last year's salary, and the Hawks have enough on the roster to replace him. You didn't have THAT good a year, Chris, and we'll always have THIS:

I'm not sayin, but I'm just sayin...

On to the rest of the clowns in the circus. Viktor Stalberg can pretty much walk, if he doesn't like what the Hawks will give him. He is of a limited skillset, and that does not including his extensive panty dropping and boyish good looks. He's a very fast player, but really had no defined role, which someone like Jeremy Morin or Ben Smith can fill, younger and cheaper. The puck bunnies would love to stare into his eyes for another season, but there is no premium on that. We're talking about a player that had 24 points in 77 games, so it would be nice to have a player back with the experience of playing under Quenneville for a year, but not necessary. Tread lightly, Pick-to-Click Vik, because you're replaceable.

Michael Frolik, is another situation altogether. He's young, and not arbitration eligible, so he can test the market all he likes, but the Hawks can always reel him back in. Reports claim that he is looking for $2.5 million a year, which is almost exactly double his salary last year. This is STILL half a million less than the Hawks/Leafs/Flyers/Panthers got stuck paying Kris Versteeg two years ago. Versteeg is good for about 10 more points per year, but Frolik actually pitches in on his own end of the rink, is two years younger, and doesn't try to rap (which is PRICELESS, in and of itself). I'll take him over Stalberg, in a heartbeat, especially since I don't have a vagina to factor into the mix.

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