Thursday, June 16, 2016

"Sweet Carolina, and the Meatball Hero"
Blackhawks trade Bickell and Teravainen

It always happens like this, doesn't it? We spent 2 1/2 hours roasting each other on the Shoutcast, because nothing is going on, and the very next day the sky falls. Today the Blackhawks announced that they had launched Bryan Bickell into the sun, along with Teuvo Tervainen, for the 50th overall pick in this year's draft, and a 2017 third round pick.

While we can be caught a little off guard with this move, it has been discussed over and over, these past few months. Bryan Bickell had to go. He simply had to. Whether Bowman bought him out, or he was traded, a move was inevitable. The cap, and roster could not be mucked up any longer with his decaying useless body. Most thought he was going to be bought out, once the aforementioned buyout period opened at 4PM, yesterday. He didn't make it that far, and it's a fair question to ask "why not?"

No love lost here, as he has done nothing but cause the Blackhawks front office and those who cover the team closely anxiety. We cannot fault him for taking money he was offered, but we can fault him for playing well below the level he was paid. The Bickell situation directly led to the Sharp > Daley > Scuderi > Ehrhoff epic debacle. The Saad situation wasn't simplified any, with an extra $4 million of cap space tied up in Captain Vertigo, either. This was a ripple effect from hell, to the likes of which the Blackhawks will continue to pay. It took Bowman a while, but he finally got rid of the stinky carcass, but that doesn't clean up the wake of destruction left behind.

The major problem with this deal, is that the Blackhawks gave up an affordable 21 year old rookie, who has his entire career ahead of him. A player that was considered one of the top prospects in the entire NHL, just months prior. A skill forward that could (debatably) play the pivot, or on the wall. That speaks volumes. A player that put up 13 goals and 35 points in his first full NHL season, playing a majority of his time with two offensive juggernauts named Danualt, and Desjardins. A player that plays a major part on both the powerplay and the penalty kill, FOR A JOEL QUENNEVILLE COACHED TEAM.

Did I mention that he's cheap?

If you listen to the vocal meatball minority (and you shouldn't), Teravainen is a bust, a disappointment, or a non impact player. This is pure and utter rubbish and anything said to the contrary should elicit a mouth sewn shut and a straight jacket.

The Blackhawks need top 6 forwards, primarily on the top line, to fill one big hole and relieve an ageing veteran. The hole at left wing that Brandon Saad left, is still gaping, and Marian Hossa probably needs to slide down the line-up to limit the wear and tear on his legs and back. Who fills any of these holes? There is no one left.

You can mindlessly regurgitate the "Teravainen would have been taken in the expansion draft", and he might have been. So what? One more year with him making virtually nothing, certainly made the Blackhawks a better team and offered them some additional flexibility both financially and structurally. There is literally no one in the system that replaces the skillset that Teuvo Tervainen brought. This is fact. Not one player that could play the right wing next to Jonathan Toews, and see the game on that elite level. Knock Teuvo Teravainen's size all you'd like, but he makes plays and sees the game at that high level, and will only get better. Teravainen, when playing with competent players, was one of the top 2 or 3 passers on this entire roster. He could shoehorn passes to places that very few players in the entire league could accomplish.

This brings us to the final piece of this puzzle. Meatball hero, Andrew Shaw. I don't hate the guy. He has passion and a drive that is admirable, and seems to have a childlike love of the game. What he doesn't have, is justification for eating up the money that Bowman just spent over 2 years trying to shed. That money needs to be spent elsewhere. Have we literally learned nothing? Over inflated "rewards", like the ones Bickell and Kruger both received only turn out to be regrettable. If Shaw wants to stay for no raise, at all, be my guest. If you want to carry two bottom 6 forwards making more than $6 million, that is just not smart asset management.

This team's championship window is creeping shut, and these players aren't getting any younger. It's very well possible that Stan Bowman's swing for the fences, in February, was the last serious shot as this team gets thinner and thinner.

Under the radar, Richard Panik re-signed with the Blackhawks for one year, taking an actual cut in salary. This was an inevitable deal that needed to happen. Another year of #DickPanik.

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