Despite all the speculation, rumors and wild dreams of the fan base, Stan Bowman and the Blackhawks decided to keep their roster intact, and not make a trade deadline deal.
While most of the hockey world thought the Blackhawks needed a second line center, the options at that position were extremely limited. Of the players moved, only three could be considered number two centers. Let’s take a look at them, where they went, and why the Hawks may have missed out, or simply chosen to take a pass.
Derek Roy – Traded from Dallas to Vancouver
Roy was traded to the Canucks for a 2nd round pick in 2013 and defensive prospect Kevin Connauton. The key to this deal was the 2nd round pick. The Hawks traded their 2013 2nd round pick last season when they traded for Johnny Oduya. While the Hawks certainly could have matched the quality of the prospect, they couldn’t match the pick. The Hawks could have chosen to sweeten the deal and give their 1st round pick, but to me, and to anyone with a reasonable hockey brain, that’s far too much to give for a player like Roy.
Jussi Jokinen – Traded from Carolina to Pittsburgh
Jokinen was waived a week or so ago, but no one bothered to take a flyer on the center. Why? Well, Jokinen is signed through next season, and carries a $3,000,000 cap hit. With the salary cap dropping $6 million next season, the Hawks couldn’t afford to take on that salary long term. The Hurricanes did pick up a portion of Jokinen’s salary, but the commitment beyond this season made it a less than ideal situation. Remember, teams are only allowed two amnesty buyouts that they must use this summer or next. If I’m the Hawks, I do my best to avoid using one until the summer of 2014, when Marian Hossa is 35 years old with 5 years left on his deal.
Derick Brassard – Traded from Columbus to the New York Rangers
Brassard was traded (with many of his teammates) to the Rangers for winger Marian Gaborik. That’s the equivalent of the Blackhawks trading Patrick Sharp. Not worth it. There was no way the Hawks could make the pot sweeter than the Rangers did when they offered Gaborik. He’s approaching the end of his injury plagued career, but the serves a huge purpose for the Blue Jackets. It shows their fan base they want to win. The Jackets showed commitment to their fans with this move, even though the Rangers will likely have more to show for this deal when it’s all said and done.
Other centers, like Calgary’s Blake Comeau and Phoenix’s Matthew Lombardi were acquired by the Blue Jackets and Anaheim Ducks respectively, but neither of those guys pass as number 2 centers on any team worth their salt. Nice players, sure…but it seems like they’d both be forced into the lineup simply because they are new faces.
Like every GM, Bowman made and fielded calls. At the end of the day, he decided there wasn’t a proper deal to be made. Many Hawks fans are outraged. Some are critical of his nerve and say he over-loves his prospects. While this is hardly a fresh idea, I find it hard to get behind today. Had other, bigger name second line centers moved for a deal the Hawks could have matched, then there would be reason to be upset. Instead, the trade deadline was relatively quiet. In fact, maybe we should be praising Bowman for the insurance acquisition of Michal Handzus. Obviously, Handzus isn’t the ideal centerman, but Bowman knew the market would be thin, and he didn’t want to be left with nothing. Handzus has scored in his recent pass, and is excellent at the faceoff dot. There’s a big need filled.
Time will tell if Bowman has the testicular fortitude it takes to be a general manager, but I have no complaints about his strategy leading up to today’s deadline.
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