The Blackhawks add some grit and age on Free Agent Day.

The Blackhawks add some grit and age on Free Agent Day.

The question is: Are the Hawks better than they were a few weeks ago?

I am a little shocked that the Blackhawk's website wasn't booming with articles about the new high profile center that SB acquired on day one of hunting season. Everything rolling up to this day seemed to predict a big acquisition. Instead, Stable Stan played it safe and attempted to find exactly what the Hawks were missing besides a 2nd line center. He found some size, he found some angst, and he found some veterans. Let us review.

Andrew Brunette: Besides Montador, this is the guy I am most excited about. He might not be fast, but he seems to have a knack for scoring goals and he does so with a comfort for getting in front of the goaltender.

6' 1" and 212 pounds, his career high is 27 goals (not too shabby), he recorded 18 goals last year for the Wild and 8 were on the PP. Oh, he has played more games than any other player in the NHL since 1998. SO, to say he has some experience at age 37 is fair. SB mentioned him as a top 6 forward which makes me think he might get some ice with Kaner and Sharp, or maybe Kaner and Toews depending on what Q is thinking. My gut tells me that the Hawks are now thinking Sharp will be the second line center and Brunette might just fit well there on the right wing

Jamal Mayers: 6' 2" and 214 pounds. He recorded 3 goals last year for the Sharks, racked up 105 hits, 14th among forwards and likes to stir things up. Most likely fitting in on the 4th line, Mayers was mentioned by SB as being versatile and at 36 another guy with experience. He can play center, though spends most time on the wing and has had a 15 goal season back in 06. Sure, why not, but I personally would have liked to see a different big forward targeted in SJ.

Brett Mclean: He is the only center the Hawks picked up and I doubt we see much of him. 32 years old, 5' 11", 185 pounds and scored 10 goals in the Swiss league last year. You might remember him from around 2002-04 seasons when he skated for the Hawks.

Sean O'Donnell: This guy is big and experienced. 39 years old, 6' 3" and 234 pounds. His stats are less than impressive, but he is not at all an offensive defensemen. He brings a ton of playoff experience, is a shot blocker, a physical force and he can be one of the guys to teach these younglings how to be professionals.

Before yesterday, the Hawks also signed Steve Montador who was in no hurry to see what the free market would bring. SB mentioned the need to bring a different style of player to the team. He has some size, strength, seems pretty smart, and isn't hurting in the offensive department either. In fact, he is known to be pretty effective on the PP and also kills them well too. He is 31 years old, 6 foot and 210 pounds. I think he will be a good fit, and while I would have been a bit more ecstatic about a few other names, he should fit in nicely and might even see some top 4 minutes.

Lastly, but not least, the Hawks brought Carcillo over from Philly to stir things up a bit. Most likely a 4th liner, I think his arrival means that the Hawks now have enough grit to play with. Sb mentioned wanting to get players who are hard to play against. Well, mission accomplished. Now what about that center?

In review, the Hawks became bigger, older and more experienced. They have added to their PK and even PP. They now have defensive D-men and offensive D-men. They are also a bit slower though teams might be less likely to take advantage physically. In other words, the the Hawks are more rounded now. Could be a good thing. The focus now turns to those yet to be signed. Frolik, Campoli and Stalberg are still waiting in the dark. I would assume that all are signed. We all were happy with Frolik even though he could afford to score more often, Campoli seems needed if the Hawks want to keep that puck moving defense together, and Stalberg is all of the speed that wasn't acquired yesterday. In Stalberg I see a guy the Hawks are not ready to give up on. His potential is just so high. The only thing standing in his way from being great is himself.

And in other news, the Panthers are being really aggressive picking up Jovanoski and Theodre. Wisniewski was the big contract of the day signing in Columbus. Richards has yet to make a decision, and the Hawks aren't even on the table. Jagr is back to the NHL and Stamkos might be leaving the Lightning.

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  • While the question of who will center for hossa remains, I am tickled pink at the new signees. I am on board with SB's move to grit as a way of unleashing the Core. The Rockford roster will be fascinating to watch as well. the new contracts are short term, meaning the young guys are expected to develop and move up. Nothin' but good at this point!

  • HI Guys,
    First off, happy fourth of July. We're in the midst of our 144th up here.

    Good synopsis HH, and the the key is your first sentence. That is the question, and, as Vegas likes to point out, we may not know until the season starts. However, my initial reaction is one of extreme satisfaction for what SB pulled off in the last few days. Montador aside, no more than a one year commitment and no unwieldy contracts to burden the 'hawks for years to come. Yes, they are better today than they were before the Campbell deal, and yes, they should be a much better team next year. Some solid veteran leadership, more grit, more physicality, more net presence and better on D. Of course this comes with a price and that may be in the loss of overall team speed, but I do like the additions of O'Donnell and Brunette yesterday.

    I'm with Icehogst, there's still a gaping hole in the middle of the second line and I'm thinking there may be a deal in the works that may involve one or two of the RFAs. Olesz had a NTC kick in yesterday so it looks like he's here to stay. SB can't be done. One more move for that 2nd line center and we're close to being cup contenders again—on paper anyway.

  • We may have to wait until next season to see how it all works, but I already wish this was the team (along with a healthy Dave Bolland) that faced the Nucks in the first round this past spring. As FF mentioned, I love the short-term, manageable contracts, and breathing room for options.

    Amazing how things go around. The past several years we've been celebrating big picks, trades and aquisitions involving a number of superstars. Now we're loving life with this group of new unheralded Blackhawks.

  • Carcillo was the head scratcher for me, but on the whole, I'm very pleased with what Stan did. Had they not been so cap strapped last year, I think this is what Stan would have done then. Looking at the stupid money around the league, (Wiz, Columbus, really?) Bowman will be one of the few GM's in a position to be a buyer, unless he signs a second line center now and I won't complain about that a bit.

    Honestly, I think it is time to stop talking about the 2010 team and it's time for the core that is left, especially now that Campbell and Brouwer are gone, establish itself as a tight unit that makes room for hungry veteran's to come and go each year. We all know it was Tallon's team that won the cup and that last year's team was still only part Bowman's team. Regardless of the fact that Tallon assembled that core, I think that it became Tallon's team when he traded Campbell and Brouwer. Compared to other teams, I really think Bowman made the most thoughtful and cost effective deals. Right now I'm pretty optimistic.

  • I agree Vegas, Carcillo might not have been necessary given the Mayers deal, but they might also be a lot to handle together on the 4th line, and one of them might even see some 3rd line ice. When you look at the young talent from last year (Morin, Smith), you don't really see any size. These guys are here to help protect some of them. Basically, there is a lot of logic in the moves of the past weeks.

    I also have a gut feeling that McNeill might be playing in the NHL as early as October which might be why SB is holding off on finding a center. He most likely does not want to make a long contract deal to anyone.
    I think it is fair to say that we here at Puck PowWow believe in SB.

  • That's what happens when you type too late at night. That last bit should read it became Bowman's team when he traded Campbell and Brouwer. We now return you to whatever you were doing.

  • So, Campoli files for salary arb. That leaves SB four options, sign him before arb, accept the ruling, walk away or, sign and trade. Any thoughts on what will happen? Clearly CC thinks he's worth more than SB is offering …

    Sign and trade is my guess … unless Campoili's camp capitulates and get's 'er done before the arb hearing.

  • In reply to fourfeather:

    Viktor Stalberg also filed this afternoon.

    BW

  • I can't really see Stalberg getting that much, but Campoli might be a problem.

    I truly think that Campoli is an integral part of the plan now, so losing him could be dangerous. However, he really didn't have that much time with the club before season's end. I hope they can figure it out and SB might be willing to go a bit higher than he wanted.

    I would like to see what Stalberg can do with another year and maybe some consistency from the bench, but from his performance last year he is not worth that much more.

  • I like Campoli, but I'm not sure exactly where he fits or how long you sign him for. As an armchair GM, I'd probably risk the money on a center instead of a D guy, but I don't know how confident the Hawks braintrust is in their prospects below Nick Leddy. I wish I could make it to prospects camp to see some of these guys. With the stupid money going around this year, he might get more in arbitration then the Hawks want to pay.

    As for Stalberg, he's another guy who has played himself up and down the bench. I'd like to see if there is some upside to him, but I wouldn't commit a lot of resources to it. Just for conversation, I seem to remember thinking last year that Stalberg was taking A LOT of shit from other teams and was not dealing with it well because it kept happening. After whistles, I thought he got jacked a lot and I was kind of surprised both that he was letting it happen and that none of his teammates were stepping up; almost like they were leaving it to him to figure out.

    In some ways, I look at him like Brouwer, he's a pretty big dude at 6'3 210 and he's not going to get a pass like Kaner who's job is clearly defined. Stals has speed and some skill, but with a body that size he can't be a cupcake, especially when he's getting challenged every night. If nothing else, Brouwer would not back away. Kopecky wouldn't fight either, but he still pushed and shoved and played "big". If Stals can't be more then a big dude trying to be the skill guy, I think he's going to be more liability then asset.

  • Well said, Vegas. I agree about Stalberg, all flash and dash but no grist for the mill. Swedes seem to be like that, either Kronwall-esque tough or Sedin-like cupcakes.
    As for Campoli, Jesse Rogers explains the situation here:

    http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/blackhawks/post/_/id/4667300/restricted-free-agency-challenging-again

    If the numbers are correct, then CC will not be a hawk next year for anywhere near that amount (3M). No way I say to that.

    This, of course, —should CC leave— leaves the 'hawks with a deficit of speed/puck moving ability on the defense which, with the status quo, would necessitate a change to the game plan, IMO. Hopefully they get it done sooner rather than at the arb hearing, but I won't be surprised if he's not part of the 'hawks' plans moving forward. Another interesting sidebar here is that he's eligible as an UFA next year so the sticking point could be more about term than dollars. SB maybe wants a long term deal and CC a one year so he can test FA next year. If he signs a multi-year then it should be for more dollars per year because he's giving up his FA status for the contract.

  • In reply to fourfeather:

    So are you saying he's all Swedish, no Finnish?

    I can't see 3mm for him either and actually, I'm not sure I would want to do a long term deal with him unless I believe the pipeline is not going to help. With the departure of Campbell, I believe the puck moving D strategy is going to change and maybe that's a good thing, especially against tougher forechecking teams. On the flipside, if he comes back on a year deal and then has a stunning contract year, he will be gone no matter what. IDK, I like him and I wouldn't say he's a dime a dozen kind of guy, but I don't know that he would be crucial to future success. Would you take him at 2.2?

  • LOL, yes, exactly what I'm saying. A slightly better version of Jack Skille. They know the perimeter well.

    CC, yes, I think that number may be in line. One year deal and let him dip his toes in FA. I'm not all that familiar with the Hogs' D but from what I read there are a couple of puck moving D almost ready to make the leap. This would explain the short-term deals expiring for next year.

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