Friday, June 13, 2014

The Blackhawks Elusive Dodo Bird

Since what seems like the beginning of time, the Blackhawks have had a hole. An enormous glaring hole right in the middle of their otherwise deep core. It's been contemplated and savagely beaten to death like an old tired nag. This, of course, would be the ever changing and revolving door of second line center. This is a drum that will never stop being beaten, until there is a solution. Even then, there will be the critics. I figured that this would be a great time to lay out some choices that Stan Bowman has for this conundrum.

The first choices will obviously be from within in the organization, and I will go on record stating that this is the most likely scenario. Bowman does not like to make big moves unless he has thoroughly exhausted all other options, hence the existence of Michal Handzus.

Organization Solutions

Andrew Shaw - 22 Yrs - $2 Million
Shaw is the odd on favorite to end up playing the second line pivot. He had success there previously, and is probably going to be the new Quenneville security blanket, granted the Blackhawks don't do something stupid like re-sign the boat anchor otherwise known as the corpse of Michal Handzus. I cannot discourage this, but Shaw has not been consistent. He is best suited for a third line role. For now, his versatility is huge, and very useful.

Teuvo Tervainen - 19 yrs - $895,000
Yes, I threw the savior into the mix. He is young and very talented, but throwing him into the grind of regular NHL action just isn't the answer yet. The Hawks really need a bridge for a year until Teuvo is ready. If this were a team that was struggling to compete, I would be all for throwing him into the mix, but the Blackhawks aren't. He would be shuffled in and out/up and down the lineup. I have no doubt that he will be a good player, but in '16-'17. If he lights the world on fire in Rockford, then bring him in, but there is another player that led the league in scoring while playing in Rockford; Brandon Pirri. We all know how that story ends.

Phillip Danault - 21 Yrs - $863,000
Progressing well in Rockford but he will be centering Shaw in another year or two, on the third line, unless Kruger moves up.

Mark McNeill - 21 Yrs - $863,000
Probably slated to play wing and still another year away. Good size, but he will be a bottom 6 player for a few years. Not the solution.

Matt Carey - 22 Yrs - $925,000
I threw him in but he isn't, nor will he ever be, the solution. Depth guy in Rockford, but hey, at least he is not Drew Leblanc.

Outside Solutions (Realistic or Not)

These choice will require unloading some salary and/or some creative accounting. Again, I do not expect to see any of these moves, but I have been wrong before.

Mike Richards - 29 yrs - $5.750 Million
There is speculation that Richards will be bought out this summer, and the Blackhawks could get him on the cheap since the Kings will be paying him $5.750 million a year until my 6 year old is practically in High School. Change of scenery and a bit of a discount could be a solid signing for both sides. Richards could get another shot at a cup and the Blackhawks could have an admirable fill in, until Teravainen is ready. Not the worst idea. Others disagree, but this would be one of my primary targets outside the organization.

Mikhail Grabovski - 30 yrs - $3 Million
I like this guy a lot and was hoping Bowman would have taken a run at him last summer. Very skilled player and can be help on the powerplay. He could keep up with both Kane and Saad, or whoever ends up on the other size. The Blackhawks would still have to clear up salary, but someone like Leddy or Oduya would be enough. This would be also be one of my primary targets outside the organization.

Ryan Kesler - 29 yrs - $5 Million
Money is right, age is right, good chemistry with Kane. This thought begs to ask, though, just who do the Blackhawks have to give up, and will Vancouver even entertain trading him to a team that will face them so often? The Blackhawks would have to clear up a minimum of $3 million for this one. Just cannot see this one playing out.

Jason Spezza - 30 yrs - $7 Million
Would have to be a trade with some money heading back to Ottawa. The Blackhawks will only have, at best, $3 million to play with. This means they would have to shed a minimum of $5 million or the Sens would have to retain some of his salary. $7 million is just far too much for a bridge player.

Brad Richards - 34 yrs - $6.666 Million
A center named Richards being bought out, where have we heard this before? Similar for Mike, there is heavy speculation that he will be cut loose. The problem here is that he has almost turned into a younger Handzus. He is slow and has been fairly infective. Doesn't fir the Blackhawks style and might just be done. Thirty four is not young.

Joe Thornton - 34 yrs - $6.75 Million
See Spezza. Thornton is already 34 and makes almost $7 million a year. The Blackhawks would have to unload someone like Sharp or two defensemen. Sure would be nice to have that $2.2 they are spending on Rozsival and that $1.25 million they gave Bollig back, wouldn't it? Would be nice because he is a "pass first" kind of guy that could feed Kane some really nice opportunities. Doug Wilson is not trading Jumbo Joe to the Blackhawks.

Derek Roy - 31 yrs - $4 Million
Not even a real possibility but he'll be a free agent. Not sure he could keep up with any team's top 6 anymore. BUT, we're talking about a team that iced Michal Handzus there for the better part of a season and a half, so is Roy really any worse?

Paul Stastny - 28 yrs - $6.6 Million
About to get a huge pay day somewhere not called Chicago, thanks to his line mates in Colorado. It helps to have two young world class players on your flanks, doesn't it, Pauly Walnuts? If he doesn't re-sign in Denver, some team will be dying to trade his ass in about a year and a half.

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