Free Agency for the Blackhawks: You do the Math.

Isn't free agency fun? Watching all the possibilities and talent shift around the NHL. Iginla ends up with Boston after they lost Horton. This one is kind of funny given that Iggy passed on the Bruins a few months ago. There is Alfredsson who signed with the Wings in search for a Stanley Cup ring. Detroit just got better. The Ducks got worse by trading Ryan away to the Senators who had to figure out a solution to losing Alfie. And then there is the Predators who made 4 smaller grabs including our very own Stalberg. The Preds picked up Stals, Matt Cullen, Matt Hendricks and Eric Nystrom. Trots sounds excited to use Stalberg's speed to the teams advantage, and sure that the Preds are going to be better this coming season.

Onto the Hawks, who really didn't change all that much. It has been about retaining players rather than picking up new ones.

What we know:

The Defense will look almost exactly the same. This is a good thing. With the 2 year signing of Rozsival which was preceded by the signing of Leddy (also 2 years), the Hawks 1-6 defensemen will be the same players. Awesome sauce.

These 2 year signings will end just in time for Toews', Kane's, and Saad's contracts to be up for renewal. No shocker that Stan wants some breathing room when that time comes.

What might be more interesting is to see what SB decides to do next year when Hjalmer's contract is up. Will Seabrook respond this coming year? Personally, I think Hjalmer was arguably the Hawks best defensemen consistently throughout the season, barring a reignited Keith late in the game. This one might get interesting. I predict a Seabrook trade.

The only question this year for the defensive roster is how many looks we will get at either Clendening or Olsen who make up your 7th spot.

Handzus was signed to a 1yr deal for 1mil. I thought maybe Zus would retire, but the signing is no shocker. Zus will most likely be a back-up plan for that 2nd line center spot, and provide an option for moving Shaw back to a winger. He will most likely play about half of the games in the season, and allow for us to get some looks at the farm throughout.

We all know that Bickell will be staying and filling some pretty big salary shoes. Whether or not he fills them will be something to watch for this year, but he most likely starts out the season on that top line again, so I think he produces.

Since SB has mentioned Brandon Pirri's name too many times to count, we should all expect him to fill that 2nd line center spot on day 1. And that's what all of this trading and signings add up to. Stan believes in his draft picks. The Hawks could be on the market for a middle market signing, but Stan wants to give his kids a shot. Pirri and Smith are 2 big names in this pond. Jeremy Morin, Jimmy Hayes, maybe Drew Leblanc, and even Phillip Danault or Mark McNeill are a couple others. We will have to wait a little longer for Teuvo Teravainen.

The question will be, can any of them fill the skates of Frolik and Stalberg? Which brings us to the question, are the Hawks a better team today, then they were the day after hoisting the Cup? The good part about this question is that they might not have to be. They just need to be as good, or close to it given that the Cup currently resides in Chicago.

I come back to that Frolik deal, because this is where I think the issues might be, even if they are slight burdens. His are some big skates to fill, and I would have liked to see him up on that 3rd or maybe even 2nd line next year. How long do we really think Hossa can log decent minutes? Plus, we are now down a significant reason the PK was so great. Ben Smith is the most likely candidate here, and I now that Pirri played some PK minutes, and that Leblanc kid is considered a great defensive player. We will just have to wait and see.

The current cap situation shows that the Hawks have 5.8 mil to play around with, but that doesn't account for Pirri's cap hit, or Antti Raanta's. (This just in, the Hawks have signed Nikolai Khabibulin to a 1 year deal. What, you can't believe your eyes, yeah, I know the feeling) I had expected the Hawks to show Raanta a good handful of games, maybe even splitting with Crow, but the Khabi signing makes me feel like SB isn't so sure. Why not just keep Emery at that point? IDK, whatever. Welcome back Khabi.

Anyway, back to the cap thing. So, by my guess, and this is without knowing the actual amount that Rozsi signed for, the Hawks have about 3 mil to play around with as of today. Adds to the question about Frolik a little doesn't it. Let's assume Kruger gets a slight raise, and that might bring it down under 3 mil.

Again, Hjalmer is up after next season ends. He will most likely be up for a raise from his 3.5 mil. Crow will also be up next year, but I got a hunch the Hawks go elsewhere, most likely Raanta at this point.

Shaw will be due a significant raise after this coming season as well.

There are obviously some players that can get moved elsewhere, as in Carcillo or Bollig. I vote Carcillo. Also, Brookbank.

As of right now, my guess is that the forward lines look like this:

Toews/Kane/Bickell

Pirri/Sharp/Hossa (hopefully to be replaced by a younger player, maybe Saad, and maybe Zus fills in for Pirri, making Pirri the 3rd line center)

Shaw/Saad/Smith (maybe Zus as the center with Shaw playing a wing)

Zus/Kruger/and youngsters on the 4th line, switching between Bollig

Can't say I hate this, can't say I love it. But, Kruger hasn't been signed yet either. Could be Stan giving a good look at the pool of free agents left, but I expect Kruger gets signed.

There you go, talk amongst yourselves.

Filed under: View from the Bench

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  • Funny TSN ( Canada's ESPN) has dick on Stalberg or the Bulin wall signing. Anti- Hawk bias ? I'm probably too sensitive as a lifelong die hard Hawks. Bruins, Kings, Wings bias on HNIC made me gag on more than one occasion but the Hawks won out so poo on them.

    Khabibulin signing makes sense as it is congruent with the Hawks mantra of don't rush the talent's development. Raanta will get some games with the big team but will be an Icehog unless there is an injury.

    If Q's thinking, Hossa will see third or even fourth line minutes to save that aging body for when it counts. With PK and PP minutes it should still be twelve plus per game and what I want Hossa for is the post season, period. Ditto with Hanzus. Healthy scratch while the youngsters get some game time and then late season minutes so he is ready to roll for the play-offs. Same thought would apply to Rosival.

    I am excited to see the young guns this season and comforted with the vets available to cover. Go Hawks.

  • I think it's probably human nature to gravitate to what makes sense based on looking backward. At this point and time, after having just won a cup, I think most of us have a vision of what we expect next year based on what we just witnessed. And I think that's a flawed way to look at things, one that I am guilty of myself. Throughout the season, necessity is the mother of invention. Nobody thought Frolik would develop into the role he did, and at the start of this season, Crawford was suspect, not much was thought of Kruger and probably a lot of people were annoyed at Stan, once again, not being a player in free agency.

    Things change. While we hang on every shift and line combo to start, I don't believe anything will really be settled until February or so. The team took a long look at Bolland as 2C, and it didn't work and no one predicted Handzus would fill that role. The point, I guess, is that I think most predictions are like tossing a dart. Until we see some of the new guys and the chemistry they have or don't have, I don't think we can really judge what we lost or gained and I feel pretty much the same for most teams out there. The Penguins threw an enormous pile of talented shit against the wall and just when everyone was assured they win the cup, something else happened.

    Compared the summer of 10 roster slaughter, I'm a lot more optimistic with how things look right now. The cap looks like there is a little room and Q has some options. Undoubtedly we will second guess every way he uses those options, but, at least that's after the season starts LOL

  • We won't see Raanta in the NHL this year unless there is an injury. He needs time to get used to the smaller ice over here. They are going to bring him along like Niemi and have him play most of the minutes in Rockford. Letting Carter Hutton go guarantees it.

  • In reply to BigJack:

    Maybe they are going this route for the first half of the season, at which time he and Khabi switch places. Depends on how long it takes for him to get acclimated to American hockey. I just can't see why they wouldn't have kept Emery if they weren't planning on playing Raanta.

  • In reply to Hostile Hawk:

    I think it was more about Emery wanting to get one last shot at a number one spot. He said something to the effect of "Crawford is the number one and is going to get a big payday after next season so there wasn't any room for me." Looking at the batshit money Philly likes to throw around and how quickly they change net minders, it's probably a decent risk for him.

    Rozsival signed at 2.2 caphit for two years and that leaves 2.5 in cap space with Kruger still needing to get signed. Signing Kruger will probably be the last thing SB can get done this summer

  • What Vegas posted makes sense. SB probably offered Emery the same deal he offered Khabibulin. Somewhere between 1.65 and 2 mil. The flyers offered Emery the same deal, with the added incentive that he may get the starting job- how good is Mason anyway? Emery had made it clear in the waning days of the season, that he wanted one last chance at a starting position or a "different opportunity." A small concern with Khabibulin is his constant groin/leg problems, but with some young Icehogs waiting for an opportunity that small concern becomes even smaller. SB says the Kruger signing is very close. Hopefully, there will be an announcement within a few days.

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