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:
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