I have been sitting on this recent development to see what others were saying, and hopefully, to find the silver lining in it all. Fortunately for me, other bloggers have come out with their negative reactions first, which allows for me to be the calm mannered voice for a change. However, I'm not so sure that I am so against the signing of Oduya anyway, and I am certainly not shocked. I think SB has been following a very specific path, and philosophy, and this signing does not deviate from it.
In case you are unfamiliar with the terms of Oduya's signing, he was given 3 years at a hit of $3.375 mil. This is actually better than I expected, even though many see it as too high. My first response was, "Hjalmer is gone," but after sitting on it, I have given other possibilities a shot. Why are so many against it? Obvious, Hawks fans want a big guy who can clear the crease and Oduya is not exactly mister physical. This is a very fair reaction. It also leads me to some other thoughts.
What does this signing mean, and what does it say? My most recent realization is that there might be other defensemen who are larger question marks than thought before. The second adds weight to my comment in the last post. 2 things, SB believes in the roster he is building, and views most of the issues to stem from coaching (but also that he might see the game shifting in the near future, because the NHL is not happy with teams playing like the Yotes. Who wants to watch that), and he will not deviate from this path in large ways. If Kane goes, he will be replaced by a similar player, or in Vegas' terms, I will give you a ten for your ten dollars, but that ten is cleaner and fits better in my wallet.
Secondly, as I pointed towards in the comment, "the biggest move might involve a goaltender." Not only would this be a safe move that fits with SB's future vision of this team, but it also could have something to do with the Oduya signing. If the Hawks were to acquire the right goaltender, would the need to having a crease clearing D-man not become less important?
Let's travel backwards for a minute. Just what does Oduya bring to this team, or better yet, what did he bring? Can we all agree that if the playoffs were left out of the talk, that Oduya was looking like a pretty great grab? A bad playoff performance against a very specific style of play is why we even question this move. Well, if SB sees a future where the NHL tries to eliminate the Yotes style, or better yet, Q and company actually start working on a real solution to it, does it change anything. Because, I believe the Hawks can solve that riddle with the talent they have, and I think SB feels the same way; even more, that his words and moves suggest as much.
My take on Oduya, sans the playoffs is that he looks darn good. He is pretty much what we wanted Hjalmer to be all season, but with a much better vision of the ice, and puck control. Again, this might spell the end for Hjalmer. Oduya seemed to embody the poise that the Hawks needed on the back end, not the size, but the poise. He is a stay at home kind of player, who can bring the offense when it is the right time, and I can see SB foaming at the mouth over the possibilities. He fits into the puck possession, strong transition team that SB wants out of this club. We have to stop thinking about what we see, and start thinking like SB for second. Whether or not his vision pays off might not be seen for 2 years, and maybe not at all, but he is pulling the shots right now ( I think).
Now we start seeing what this "safe" signing means. It tells me that Crawford will likely not be the starting goaltender. Goalies are winning Cups right now, and Crow is not even a strong starter at this point. It tells me that Montador is unlikely to return. It begs the question about Hjalmer's future, but I have a hunch he stays as well. It also brings up the Leddy concern in a big way.
Oduya, while he might be a good solution to many of the Hawk's concerns, with the exception of size, but he is not the solution to the performance of Nick Leddy. I was downright disgusted with Leddy's performance over the year, and especially at the end. He showed that he is not ready for top 4 minutes, and not ready for the physical aspect of the game in any shape or form (the Hawks screwed up by playing him too much, too soon). If I were SB, I would be doubting his future here, and possibly shopping him as part of a deal.
And if I were trying to see into SB's head, I might think the following. I am not ready to give up on what Lepisto offers, in his speed, agility, and aggressive play. He might be the new Leddy, or if Montador does come back, he might be our 4th D-man (Oduya and Monty doesn't sound so bad). Hjalmer is a bargaining chip, and a release of cap money if need be. I doubt the Hawks make a move for a 2nd line center, but if they do, Hjalmer will most likely be the bait, along with someone or something else. With the free money I have, added to the loss of either Montador to injury, or Hjalmer to trade, I can use it to go out and buy a goalie.
As mentioned before on the blog, it is likely that prospects will fill the holes. Pirri looked good as a 2nd line center possibility.
I also think that Q, while without a backseat driver, is not completely free to drive as he pleases. I am sure the administration saw what everyone of us saw in the way ice-time was distributed, and Q has already admitted his faults here. We will see a more balanced approach next season, and it will make the difference. I see the same happening on the back end. There will be less of a gap between the minutes of Keith and Oduya. Less variation from the 1st, to 2nd, and even 3rd pairings. With this, SB needs a more balanced roster, and Oduya does fit into that idea.
Then there is the whole Hossa issue, but lets wait that one out for a bit.