Monday, January 9, 2012

The Hits Just Keep Coming

While the Blackhawks aren't having Pittsburgh Penguins luck, they ARE having bad luck of their own. The rumors hit late Sunday night that the time Patrick Sharp missed in the Wings game was due to a fractured wrist. More reports came out Monday to, at least, confirm that the wrist is covered under "upper body" injury classification, and that it was indeed a wrist issue. As we wait for details of the injury, we have this clear cool January morning to ask just what this means for the Hawks. These last few games have pointed out the glaring holes in the Hawks lineup, and with an important top 6 winger out for 3-4 weeks, the holes have only gotten bigger and deeper. I think we can all agree that the current holes are at the #5 Defenseman spot, and #2 or #3 Center. Let's debate a few scenarios:

-Now the #5 defenseman spot would be the easiest to fill. While we would all like to give that moniker to Montador, he just hasn't been "that guy". He's been a #6 defenseman. So who is out on the market for defender? Names that will be UFA's after this year are Matt Hunwick from Colorado, Jason Garrison from Uncle Dale's Panthers, Milan Jurcina from the Isles, Kurtis Foster from the Devils, Tim Gleason from the Canes, or someone really low risk like Sheldon Brookbank from Anaheim. There are older big men like Hal Gill from Montreal, or Mark Eaton from the Isles that could provide veteran leadership, as well. There are a few names in the Hawks division, but I just can't see any team in their division being stupid enough to offer them ammo. The name Josh Gorges of Montreal has been floated, but I can't see him coming easy or cheap, and with the more pressing needs, they need to use the cap space they have wisely. Gorges makes more than Hjalmarsson, puts up the same numbers, and is signed though 2017-18. Do the Hawks want to eat up more than half their cap room with a guy that's more overpriced than Hammer and 3 years older?

-The Blackhawks center controversy has been well documented and widely lamented. If Invisibolly would finally grow a pair of balls and use some of his talent, he could be the #2 center of this team. This would solve a lot of problems, because sliding someone like Kruger or even Mayers up into the #3 spot would be much easier and realistic. If Quenneville has the balls to play Dan Carcillo in his top 6, Jamal Mayers can play on the third line, because he is more responsible, and less of a liability than Carcillo, period. Andrew Shaw or Kruger shouldn't have an issue playing checking line center, and how much do you see of a checking line in the playoffs anyway? It's common sense that a #3 guy is much easier to find than a #2 guy, though. Alas, Bolland seems to be content on wasting away with the third line, to leave the Hawks with a glaring black hole at #2. So, just who is on the lame duck list as far as centers? Not much. Paul Gaustad from Buffalo, and Brendan Morrison of Calgary. There is always vomit inducing thoughts of Samuel Pahlsson, Colin Fraser, and Jake Dowell. Maybe Stan has some inside information, but this is going to be a tough one to solve.

-Top 6 Winger is going to be interesting. You have Kane, Toews, and Hossa as locks, which leaves 3 pretty big question marks. Even of Kruger is back soon, he's not the short term answer. I like the kid but he would take an absolute BEATING in the playoffs against teams like Nashville, Detroit and Vancouver, and with his bleary melon, I'm not investing too much in the contributions of young Dream Warrior. I've given up all hope on Frolik and Bickell providing anything valuable to this team, this year, if ever. Hayes has looked REALLY impressive in his first 5 games, but I'm not so sure he's ready for NHL top 6 minutes (baby steps, folks). Brunette is slow as the day is long, but he can fill in on the top six. With Ben Smith recalled, they have few choices left in Rockford with Brandon Pirri, and Jeremy Morin but neither are "the answer". That still leaves some pretty big holes, if Brunette can just be serviceable (see above).

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