Oduya signing speaks louder than his cap hit.

Oduya signing speaks louder than his cap hit.

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.

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  • Big news from the Madhouse.

    1st, Hossa is feeling better. The news was sounding scary for a while, but new information leads us to believe he might be ready for training camp. This will play even more towards the safe moves that SB will make. No matter how it plays out, I would still look at Hossa as a 3rd line winger to play with Bolland.

    2nd, the Hawks are sending Kane to a counselor after SB made public statments for his unhappiness with Kane's summer antics.

  • In reply to Hostile Hawk:

    I said at the start of last season I wanted to see what it would look like to have Hossa on the same line as Bolland. I hope we get a chance to see what it looks like this year. As for Kane, I agree with FF below, this should have been kept inside the organization.

  • Your thoughts and prayers are greatly appreciated during this very sad and difficult time.

    OneTeam

  • In reply to OneTeam:

    OT, He was a great player, role model and human being and he always will be.

  • In reply to OneTeam:

    Yes, he is that rare kind of human being/player that does not come around often.

  • Which ever way you slice and dice the Oduya signing the fact remains that the 'hawks defense is not good enough, and, in my opinion, is over rated. Take Seabrook out of the equation and you're left with a bunch of soft defenders who wilt at the first signs of pressure. We all know this.

    To me this smacks of the complacency that surrounds this organization. We're good enough, we just need to play better. We're good enough we just need to coach better and on it goes …

    This team was pushed around too easily last year and now we have several players who are one head shot away from never playing again.
    It's true that this may happen no matter who is on the roster, but becoming a team that is tough to play against will not happen with this squad as currently constituted.

    The 'hawks are just spinning their wheels while other teams will take the necessary steps to make improvements. Perhaps the looming lockout is the reason for this lack of significant change, but I'm guessing that the 'hawks regress even further next year. This is not a contending team.

    Good news on Hossa, but he will never be the same player. As for Kane, well, that's something that should have been done awhile ago. There's no need to sound off about it either. It should have been handled internally like most other organizations do.

  • In reply to fourfeather:

    Spot on Hawk analysis. A quick look at the 2010 Cup video will show exactly what you said. Buff, Ladd, Edgar, and Madden provided the added toughness that is completely missing from this years and last years team. Goaltending and defense get exposed when there is no opposition to entering the Hawks zone. Neimi faced 20 to 28 shots a game, Crow gets 30 or more repeatedly, and alot of those are 2nd and 3rd chances. The power play allows other teams to beat on Toews with no worry of losing the game, because its almost a negative. 2 years ago Keith had a skate problem all year, last year he missed the net so many times I thought Bob Murray had come back, so maybe he had a stick problem. Where would this team would be if Seabs got hurt for a long time?
    Fortunately the Hawks have a huge crop of rookies that are either ready or a year away. Pirri, McNeil, or Beech should be competing for the 2nd line center job opening. Saad, Morin, Shaw, Hayes, and Krueger will add depth. Bollwig won't make anyone forget Secord, but the kid stood up to the best fighters in the NHL last year.
    If Krueger gets stronger, Bickell, Frolik, and Bolland return to their playoff form from 2011, the Hawks wil be better off that we think. Oduya is a stop gap till the Hawks find a big defender to pair with Leddy, or Montador returns.

  • In reply to weakglovehand:

    Yep, I agree with this logic.

    SB is totally expecting a few prospects to fill holes. He is a build from within kind of guy.

  • After looking at what happened in the league this year, and previous years, I see a particular theme keep emerging. That theme is that when everyone is building their team to play a certain way, you can have a lot of success by building a team that simply keeps finding new ways to obstruct. The league has made clear what it wants to see, and teams that can't win that way have made clear what they are going to do to stay competitive. Unless the league makes it illegal to lay down in front of the crease, the Hawks better get used to what teams like the Yotes bring.

    Simply being bigger is not the answer for the Hawks. LA is a big team. However, they also break out as a five man unit and make countless short passes to break open stifling defense. I would love to see the Hawks be that bigger team. But the harsh reality is that we are stuck with a roster that just isn't big. Q is going to have to find a different way to deal with it. Oduya, I think, can be a component of that. To be clear, I don't see him as any kind of savior. However, if the Hawks are going to really re work their defensive scheme, I believe he can be an improvement over hammer.

    On Leddy, I'm hesitant to say much. Right now, we are discussing the struggles of a kid who is 21 years old. After you have thrust that kid up the ladder too quickly, do you help him by dragging him back down it? A thing I think that goes unspoken way too often is that Duncan Keith chafes enormously under a strong forecheck. Seabrook hits people hard and forwards think twice about tangling with him. The real question to me is, do we have to dump Leddy because we refuse to establish a defensive/forward scheme that can deal with a strong forecheck? As for Lepisto, I have to admit my penchant to look at the surface. He's now with his fourth NHL team and has not been able to bump anyone out of a second pair spot. If we are going to rework the system to make use of speed and short passes, I can see a spot for him. If not, I see nothing in him at age 27 that I don't see in a still undeveloped Leddy at age 21.

    As for goaltending, dumping Crawford seems like another Huet panic move to me. My primary question is, why did he look like he sucked? My primary answer is that it's not a simple conclusion. As I have said before, the Hawks D to start the year was horrible and Crawford was constantly hung out to dry. This is a superficial observation, but if people like Al Cimaglia are to be believed, the defense did tend to play with a little more jam in front of a guy like Emery. Crawford has some good attributes and while I don't think it would be some major mistake to trade him away, I find myself asking about him what I do about Kane, which is, what do you get in return? To dump him for a bag of pucks doesn't make much sense to me, especially if the hope is that a new guy will absorb all mistakes of the team in front of him.

  • In reply to VegasHawksFan:

    I see the theme in the cup winners … Hawks had four solid lines, Q has his ways and didn't necessarily use them proportionately but he did use them. Hawks were a good mix of grinders and skill and could give as good as they got. Hawks had a solid work ethic at both ends of the ice. Bruins rolled four lines and were big and tough physically and had a great work ethic. Kings (who will win this next week) have four solid lines, who all contribute and Sutter just keeps on rolling them. The difference is on D where the Kings and Bruins have it all over the 'hawks. Hawks could play good D in the cup year so what has gone wrong? I think it's the lack of overall team toughness which was ushered out of town in the cap purge and SB has done nothing to replace it. Carcillo and Mayers and Bickell and Shaw don't exactly make me quiver with fear.

    The key for me is not the size, but the toughness of the team as a whole. Add to this the inability of Q to utilize what he has and lean too heavily on the supposed core players. We've covered all this so many times, I won't start it all over again. Fine, Keep Keith, Leddy and Oduya as your puck moving D. We don't need 5 of them on the roster.
    Hjalmer is an enigma. Neither this, or that, and who knows where Montador fits. Lepisto, I dunno.

    The Kings to me have the best D in the league. Three right shooters and three lefties. Good puck movement with Doughty and Martinez as well as Voynov. But those guys are tough defensively as well. Add to them, Mitchell, Scuderi, and Greene. That's a big league defense.

    I agree about Leddy, two steps forward and one backward isn't going to inspire confidence in the kid. He's a 3/4 guy as I see it. Where Oduya fits I don't know … and what about Hjalmer?

    Keith is declining, or burning out. Blame Q for that! You have to wonder how the loss of Haviland is going to affect these guys.

    As for the new scheme, I think we'll see what we saw in the last 20 games when the 'hawks had to fight and claw for the playoffs. Neutral zone forecheck.

    I agree with your sentiment re: Crawford. A lot of his issues stem from the D zone play and, he was, indeed, hung out to dry often enough. He did, however, have complete lapses in technique and was flopping around like a fish out of water too many times for me. I'm also not partial to the drop'n'stop goalies. Again look at the last three cup winning goalies. None of them are butterfly, none are drop'n'stop. They're all athletes who really on their agility and skill. I have the same argument here Vegas, it's not about big, it's about competitiveness, grit and athleticism. Crawford has none of those qualities.

    Finally, I think, you're right. Nothing much is going to change no matter what new faces are brought in unless Q changes his ways and the players decide they want this more than they don't.

    The primary reason I want to see change is because the core has had a taste of success too early and perhaps too easily (used advisedly). In the end, these are the guys who will win you the cup, and to this moment Q still relies on them to the exclusion of others and there is nowhere near the "team game" we saw to years ago. If you're not in Qs good books you basically are a warm body and I believe he's ruined more players than he's helped. I think a shakeup is needed to bring back the fire to compete. They didn't win it last year and were not even close this year, what makes you think things are going to change when the roster remains the same?

  • I think that there are players already on the roster who might make larger impacts next year.

    While I am not exactly overly joyed by the safe actions of SB that are not dealing with specific issues, I still see a talented roster.

    Stalberg and Frolik are going to be big towards next year's results. I want to talk about them soon in a post. Stalberg will easily surpass 30 goals and might push towards 40. I am not ready to give up on Frolik, who has the skill to be huge for this team.

    Bickell is probably my largest concern up front. He has all the makings of being exactly what the Hawks need, but will he ever be?

    Again, much of this will depend on how Q decides to coach, but the pieces are mostly there (I believe).

    Crawford has never been a stellar goaltender. Like FF said, he is not overtly athletic, strong, or fast as many of his opposition is. He is a great back-up, and an okay starter. A change here could work wonders, but it is not set in stone, as we have seen how goalies can struggle after having great years.

  • In reply to Hostile Hawk:

    I agree there's enough talent to go around. Is it the right mix though, HH? I'd like to see Q set some lines and stick with them. Give everyone a shot to develop some chemistry, forgive mistakes, and roll the lines. Frolik is too good to be benched and he gives too much effort—it's good gritty effort—to be pined as much as he was this year.

  • In reply to Hostile Hawk:

    Stalberg 30 goals? 40 goals? What you smoking Willis? This guy is at best a streak scorer, he's not a finisher and cannot be counted on for consistant output like Sharpe or Toews. Yes he's fast and if he drove to the net more, he'd draw more penalties as he creates mis matches with slower footed D-men. If he builds on last year and becomes a more complete player, the trade for him for Versteeg will be realized. Then sadly the Hawks will have to pay him 3.5 to 4M and won't be able to affford him.

  • In reply to weakglovehand:

    Stalberg connected for 22 goals this year, without any power-play minutes. He was on every line, on down to the 4th, and was never quite trusted by Q. His leash was short. It will not be this coming season. I will expand on it more in the next post, but just based on his skill and improvements that we are seeing, and more balanced ice-time, he will notch 30, easily. My guess is his hands see a large improvement by next season, therefore, I see 40 within his reach.

    I believe that Stalberg did draw quite a few penalties, and his CORSI rating is 3rd highest on the team. He is not just fast, he might be the fastest in the league with one of the best jumps I have ever seen. The Hawks should sign him now while their might be some doubt about his worth.

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    I can't begin to comment on all I would like. It's late and I must sleep. One thing stood out and made me angry. " good news on Hossa, but he will never be the same player". Really? You are so close to Marion that you know that? Same player as what? What would be your barometer for that? I love to give my opinion on all sorts of things. I won't pretend that I know what may happen with an injury. Every person responds differently to any situation. It's a wonderful part of life. Let's be optimistic, eh?

  • In reply to peeks88:

    Once bit twice shy. Think he'll be as fearless as he was? That's your opinion. I think not. Think Crosby plays with the same reckless abandon as he used to? I think not. Think Toews doesn't think twice about how he hits the corners? I think not, eh? Go ahead, your opinions are welcome here. That's what we do in case you haven't noticed. You have your koolaid, I'll have mine. We don't have to agree.

  • In reply to peeks88:

    I think Hossa was a different player than people wanted him to be before the hit. Meaning, that he was and is unable to keep up the amount of minutes Q wanted to use him for, and his strengths have always rested in his defensive abilities. Even his offense is sort of has a keep-away kind of style to it.

    Post hit, he will be even more, a defensive player, and less likely to eat up minutes the way he used to. Bad concussions change you forever, but I was not basing this statement on the hit alone. Hossa would be best used on the 3rd line, IMO. But, and this is a huge but, I also think the lines should be rolled more equally.

  • Everyone is missing the point. SB believes in the Dead Wings. The Dead Wings have swedes in their lineup....(see Lindstrom etal) Johnny O is a swede. Lepisto is a swede. Hammer is a swede.....the next acquisition will be a swede. Quit thinking hockey and think like a Bowman.

  • In reply to fjs309:

    Right you are, fjs. We have noticed that. Problem is the Wings' Swedes have size and skill and grit. SBs are Charmin soft lightweights.

  • In reply to fourfeather:

    BINGO!

  • In reply to Hostile Hawk:

    Now we are getting in SB's head.

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