Blackhawks address needs on busy first day of free agency

Blackhawks address needs on busy first day of free agency

Yesterday, with the signing of defenseman Steve Montador, the Blackhawks addressed their biggest need...a physical defenseman versatile enough to play in the Hawks aggressive system.

Today, the need for toughness was addressed, and big time.  The Blackhawks agreed to one year deals with forwards Andrew Brunette, Dan Carcillo, and Jamal Mayers, as well as veteran defenseman Sean O'Donnell.

In Brunette, they get a sturdy power forward who can score in the tough areas.  In his last six seasons, Brunette has missed only two games.  He brings with him veteran leadership and will play on one of the top two lines.  The knock on Brunette is his lack of speed, but he's performed at every stop of his career, and will thrive offensively on a team more focused on scoring, and less focused on the trap style of play he was forced to play in Minnesota.

Hawks fans will remember Carcillo from the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals.  He was an agitator, and irritant, and a punk against the Blackhawks.  He plays balls to the wall every shift, but too often can cross the narrow edge from intensity to insanity.  Joel Quenneville is the kind of coach that can reign that part of his game in, and make the most out of his hockey skills.  Carcillo can play the game without being a jackass on skates...and he'll get his chance here in Chicago.

O'Donnell is a veteran of 16 NHL seasons, and is a good friend of White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko.  Aside from size and strength, O'Donnell brings excellent leadership.  Every locker room is better with a guy like him.  Barring a trade, O'Donnell will be the 7th defenseman on the roster, and will likely be used selectively against bigger, more physical opponents.  At this point in his career, he will be most effective with limited minutes, but should an injury occur, he won't hurt you being on the ice for 15-17 minutes a game.

Mayers is a familiar face to long time Blackhawk fans.  In his days in St. Louis, Mayers was a thorn in the side of the Hawks.  He's fast, he hits, he fights, and he kills penalties with the best of them.  He's a pest and a pain in the ass to play against.  Mayers has the ability to play all three forward positions, and is above average at faceoffs.

Stan Bowman had said all offseason that the Blackhawks needed to be harder to play against.  Well, all of a sudden, they are one of the toughest teams in the NHL.  It should make for an interesting couple of games against the Canucks and Blues this season.

In my opinion, the Hawks have one more need to fill...a second line center.  Of the remaining free agents, Jason Arnott would fit the bill, and would likely also sign a one year deal.  More likely, though, is a trade.  With the acquisition of these three forwards, all of which are expected to play every night, the Blackhawks have a bit of a logjam at the bottom six forward spots.  I fully expect Stan Bowman to pull off a trade or two this offseason.  THAT is likely where the second line center situation will be addressed.

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  • Hey Jay,
    I know Dave Bolland isn't really a second line center by scoring standards but couldn't Q play him there. Q doesn't really go by 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th line anything, he's always going with the hot hand. and by that theory would you bring back John Madden, knowing he's familiar with the team and he's still a good faceoff and defender? They might be able to get him on the cheap.

  • In reply to derailed:

    I actually think Bolland can be a 2nd line center. When he focuses on offense, he can put up the numbers, but his real value is as the shutdown center to the opposition's top line.

    As for Madden, they are still thin at center...and yes he could be had for cheap. I think they're looking to add a 2nd line center first...probably via trade. The only guy who fits the bill free agent wise is Jason Arnott. I do think a trade is more likely.

    Madden has been linked to the Hawks all offseason, but they were with Sopel too, and that hasn't happened.

    We shall see, but I WILL guarantee they aren't done making moves.

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