NHL Draft in Review: Just where do the Blackhawks stand post Campbell and Brouwer?

2011 NHL Draft logo.jpg

With the draft behind us and some big changes having taken their course, the Hawks are now on a path of moving pieces. While the whole transition from a team that can't make it into the playoffs, to a Stanley Cup championship team might have started with Campbell, their success does not depend on his spot in the roster. And, while Campbell's inevitable trade might be the biggest news of the weekend, it was not the only thing that happened. Let us now review the changes to the Chicago Blackhawks in recent days and look to the future.

SB is earning his paycheck if you ask me. What I see is a guy who understands the physiology of this organization and knows the path he wants to take it in. Of some of the things said by him in interviews, one thing is for sure, he believes in Leddy and Campoli. He clearly stated that he wants Leddy in a bigger role and that it was regardless of Campbell's status on the team. We will see Leddy on more power-plays and in other roles which Campbell previously owned and that is for sure. A good choice given his need for further development.
Sharp is a priority to SB and this organization. I don't really think they can say that enough. What we can expect is a quick and painless signing that probably seals his presence with the team for quite a long time. I agree with this and doubt their are many who disagree.
SB seems to be targeting players for specific roles. He made mention of wanting players who exhibited certain styles that would mesh with some of the core players. My guess, he wants to affirm some solid line combinations in the roster. That would entail finding someone to play with Hossa (or in other words, a second line center), a duo for Bolland to play with, though I think he plays well with most everybody at this point, and maybe a few big boys with speed. I am also thinking that we have not seen the last of Stalberg who shows so much promise that they are not ready to quit on him just yet.
SB mentioned looking for players who were passionate and leaders. They found Mcneil and Danault. Leaders of their respective teams in more ways than one and players who showcase a strong head on their shoulders.
Mcneil just might be that 2nd line center the Hawks are in need of, or possibly a 4th line center for the time being. Hell, he might not even skate with the Hawks this year, but he was a great grab either way. It is surprising he went late enough in the draft to even get grabbed by the Hawks. At just 18 years of age, Mcneil is a big boy at 6' 2" and 210 pounds and he led his team in scoring. He also happens to be known for his 2-way style of play (me thinks a nice fit for Hossa maybe). We shall see just how NHL ready he is soon enough.
Danault is also a center and the former captain of his last squad. I need to see more of his playing style to pass further judgement, but the kid seems like a charmer.
Clendening is a puck moving defensemen who has power-play success in his past. No surprise here, but he seems to lack a bit in the size category (again, not a surprise), not that he is small, but he isn't big either..
All of these players have one major thing in common. They are all pegged as being great 2-way players.
And now back to Campbell for a moment. Again, the flexibility that came along with his departure is priceless right now. This past year did not exactly exhibit the "perfect" team, so changes had to be made. Money had to be freed up for this and the structure of a few things had to change. Surprise, it came in the biggest price tag and the player I see as most easily replaced right now.
Honestly, I am somewhat surprised that Campbell was so liked by so many. Though I am happy for the guy. Forget his contract for a moment and I am still able to think of many instances where he wasn't the best of players on the ice and see some players who will fit better in his position. He has made many bad decisions as a puck mover and showed a lack of instinct for finding the best routes when moving through the neutral zone. There are far too many instances when he simply dumped the puck or made the wrong pass throughout his Hawk's career and many times just to avoid a hit. Sure, he was able to salvage a lot with his speed, but Hjalmer also had a hand in saving his butt far too often. If the Hawks are going to be a speed centered team that relies on their breakout and transition game, they need quicker and better passes through the neutral zone, not a guy who skates it up to the blue line and dumps it in.
Yes, we all want Keith's minutes to come down, but Seabs can also move the puck well, maybe even the best on the team at making that meaningful first pass. Campoli is an outstanding puck mover and much more aggressive than Campbell, both physically and offensively, and Leddy seems destined as well for the role too.
I am telling you, Campoli is the real deal. You might think I am crazy, but people also said that when the Hawks picked up Huet and I told them he was never going to be the starting goaltender, and when I said that Niemi will be the #1 a year later and added that he was good to win the Cup to boot. I was chased off of blogs for those exact words and look how that turned out. Just saying.
I also think that this change will be easier on Hjalmer in the end and expect a great season out of him. He took a punishment for Campbell's lack of willingness to take a hit. That kind of stuff takes it toll both mentally and physically. 
Lastly, we have Brouwer. I am by far, less satisfied by this move, but like most of the fans in the world, I understand it. He may have led the team in hits, and yes I do think there is something to say that the Hawks have now traded their 3 highest hitting players away within 2 years, but Brouwer did not seem like a natural hitter to me, and I think it even took away from his game. I fully expect him to have a great year and I will still think it was the move that had to happen.
And with that we look to the future. 
Prospect camp is that much more exciting now.

Comments

Leave a comment
  • Where I think we stand is hat we have lost two players who brought things but who never satisfied most expectations. They can and will be replaced, but the success of their replacements will have as much to do with chemistry and system as it does with skill level. TBrouw, to me, didn't seem skilled enough to consistently have success with Toews and Kane. By the same token though, I'm not sure they were able to alter what they had going to include Brouwer. What I most hope SB is able to figure out is what players will fit with whatever vision he has. I love the way Hossa plays, but without a solid center for him to play with, is he worth keeping? I dunno.

    I think where the Hawks are is really not that far from where they ended the season, IE a team that has great talent but as of yet no solid system and as of yet has not recreated an identity it had on it's way to winning a cup. In that respect, losing Campbell and Brouwer doesn't change things much. In interviews, SB has said what I interpret as an outlook that sees a need to keep bringing in new faces to keep things fresh and keep complacency from setting in. Until the season starts, I really don't think we will have any idea if SB made the right changes here.

  • Agree completely, Vegas. It's one thing to bring in some new faces, yet another, to have them gel as a team. Between your lines I sense a slight dig at Q and I won't get into what I think about that just yet. Suffice to say, do you think the system will change based on the new talent or will they try to enhance the puck possession game and find players to fit accordingly, which, in my opinion, would be much harder to do. That begs the question, does Q know how to coach any other way?

    I'm not on board though, re: TBrouw and his square peg/round hole persona here. You don't replace 200+ hits and 15-20 goals for less than what he was making. On a team already thin on physicality he will be missed. He was misused more than out of sync or lacking chemistry with his mates. Q?

    Campbell won't be replaced with a similar skill set and I'll reserve judgment on Campoli for now. Good player, but a top four, I dunno.

  • In reply to fourfeather:

    You read me correctly, I do put some of TBrouw's lack of success on Q. I would also agree that you don't replace his number of hits and goals for what he was making, but the problem may be, if my thinking is correct, that the Hawks may not have been able to keep him this year at his current price. Couldn't someone offer sheet him the way the Sharks did Hammer last year? If I am thinking right on this (a dubious proposition) then maybe SB is simply deciding to move on rather then have to deal with another offer sheet fiasco and then either give up Brouwer for less then he wants or pay him more then he wants to in order to keep him. I can't blame SB if that's his thinking. Brouwer is do for a raise no matter what.

    Campoli and Leddy to me are the poor man's Brian Campbell. (LOL! as I went to the Hawks site to look at their size, I saw Kopecky was traded to the panthers for a bag of pucks.) Anyway, though Campoli may play the body a little better then Campbell, he isn't any bigger and he isn't going to be slamming people around. I still think Leddy is probably the better choice for that spot, at the least I think he should start the season there.

    Wow. So Hossa's BFF is gone and I half jokingly have to wonder if Tallon will make a play for Hossa. With Kopecky, I think it's the same as with Brouwer. He's due to get more money and on a team like the Hawks, he's not really good enough to be a top six guy though I love his grit. In Flarida, he may indeed be good enough to be up top. Things are getting interesting.

  • In reply to VegasHawksFan:

    Kopecky, well, we know DT has the cap space so he'll probably get more than his worth there. Just another body to replace and a frisky one at that. There goes more net presence and as you say grit. I hope this team isn't going soft. SB best have something major up his sleeve. If we're reliant on Bickell to be our bruising forward, we're in a heap of cow dung. At least SB got a pick for the right to TK.

    Management better be able to sign who they're targeting or we could be in for a more discombobulated team than we saw last year. I have a feeling that UFA salaries are going to be higher than norm when the bidding gets started.

  • In reply to VegasHawksFan:

    And so, Kopecky leaves us. JerryKane is going to be joyous over the news.

    I questioned whether this was big enough news for its own post, but then decided that a comment would suffice for now.
    My take on this is that: I am a fan of Kopecky. Pure and simple. I think we got more out of him than we expected, I thought he fit well with Hossa and I loved his energy. Sure, mistakes were a dime-a-dozen on some nights, but others he got the job done. Never against throwing the puck at the net, and with a hard wrist shot, he tested goalies when other players were fine waiting it out. Above all, I think he is one of the high energy guys that had the ability to get the Hawks going and he could cause a ruckus for the other team.

    And we traded him for absolutely nothing. More than trying to get rid of FA's, it seems like SB is making room for the youngins and maybe a possible vets still to be determined. Again, I get it, but I really didn't see the hurt in keeping Kop around a bit longer. More likely, we did not want to give him a raise. Florida is becoming last years Atlanta.

    If Hossa were to get moved at this point, to say I would be shocked would be an understatement.

  • In reply to Hostile Hawk:

    Hawks didn't qualify Dowell. He's an UFA on Friday. Another 525,000 to the cap space. Wow, is all I can say. No big deal on Dowell, just another body to add come Friday. Suddenly 14.5 M doesn't seem like a lot. You may be right HH, some youngins appear destined to be on the roster next fall. This is shaping up to be a 5 year rebuild never mind a slight retooling.

  • In reply to fourfeather:

    Yeah, I was just starting to have the same thought about a rebuild. Well, I guess I'll speculate a bit. Suppose we actually get a legit center for Hossa. If you put Sharp up on the top line, then you have Hossa, skilled center and just one top six wing to pull out of the pile of Bickle, Smith, Morin, (Beach?) or maybe you go out and spend a little bit for a more proven winger. Is Tyler Kennedy a proven wing?

    I could see a case where a bunch of borderline guys who are number 7 on one team maybe number 6 on another team get cut loose and do well with a new start. Kopecky to me was a real hard worker who had some chemistry with Hossa but seemed just a little short of talent to consistently stay up top. But again, we can probably cast a little heat Q's way. With the cap going up, I think it's probably going to create a bigger payout for FA's. If so, SB is probably shrewd to dump guys who we like but only at a certain price.

  • In reply to fourfeather:

    I feel pretty confident in saying that we will see a decently sized deal made to a big time center, plus Madden's name is getting thrown around a lot lately. When that deal happens, I feel the Hawks will be in a better position than they were last year.

    I think it is also really fair to say that the organization is believing in Bickell quite a bit. His stepping it up is a must at this point. I wonder if he was injured more than we knew about for longer than we knew about last season. He definitely has what it takes.

    I am also curious to see if Hendry has a spot on the 4th line as a winger next year. He could be pretty efficient at being a shut down guy and on the PK. Then again, he also lacks in size.

    I am all for throwing heat Q's way (big surprise). In my opinion, he was the lowest performing element of the team this past season (well, except for Keith). I completely agree with the comments about his choices having a role in Brouwer's performance and many others at that (Kopecky included). I do believe that SB is actually going to take away some of Q's decision making ability by the moves he is making now and into August. Probably a plus in the large scheme of things.

  • In reply to Hostile Hawk:

    With all this blood letting, I would have to think signing a solid center is on the agenda. Numbers don't always tell the whole story, but I like a lot of what I see for Laich. I think he is worth a long term risk.

    Hendry is an enigma. I think it was two years in a row he shows up the best in shape at camp, seems to work pretty hard but also seems like he got caught scratching the words Q Sucks on Joel's car. I'm kinda mixed on Madden, but like everyone else, I guess it's a matter of who does he play with. It kills me that I'm going to be at work on Friday. GRRRRRRRRRR

  • In reply to Hostile Hawk:

    If haven't already, check out the Florida Panther's homepage at http://panthers.nhl.com/

    To Pilotefan, I totally agree that the Hawk's success is contingent on having a strong 3rd and 4th line. My guess is that Bolland and Bickell make up at least 2 parts of that 3rd line which puts it in a good place and that Stalberg (if he is still here by then has top 3 ice-time). I didn't think Q used his 4th enough last year.

    I love that he is looking for 2-way players. This will increase the puck possession game.

    I am really anxious to see how well Smith plays with more regular season ice.

    I think Salak is going to be a strong back-up to Crawford, though I doubt he is needed often. Q might want to do a better job finding Crow some time to relax before playoffs though.

  • In reply to Hostile Hawk:

    Cam Barker put on waivers, buyout expected. Hadn't watched Barker real close last year but had heard he wasn't doing all that well. Wonder if he pops up anywhere.

  • In reply to fourfeather:

    Oh, the times they are a changin....

    Posted on the tag end of the Campoli eval thread, in summary is SB building a season or a post season team ? Toews, Kane, Sharp and Hossa and a couple of young uns equal the top two lines.

    Bolland and what five guys constitute lines 3 and 4 is my concern. Hawks and then Boston won the Cup in some ways because of their ability to roll 4 lines. Less drain on the top players getting through the grind of the regular season and a necessity to get very far in the playoffs.

    Big, two way players seems to be SB's direction. Cap room spent on some grit after a centre and another defenseman would be my hope. Brouwer and Kopecky were going to cost more and were injured last year. Hawks medical staff may have seen the injuries as likely to repeat.

    With Crawford in net, two goals will do the job nicely on many nights. Season the youngsters, Leddy, Smith, Kruger. Hope Stalberg or Beach (Eager replacement) grow and with Bickell we will be fine come playoff time.

    I could care less where we finish the season as long as we make the playoffs.

    Anyone got any thoughts on Crawford's backup ?

Leave a comment