Hello again. Now, this is a very fun time of the year. Our stress level has been lowered, and we are all on the same level thinking and believing that every team can win the cup in 2014. The reality is there are only a handful of teams and usually 1 or 2 surprise teams that are going to make it this year. Our Blackhawks should be in that mix and consideration since A) We have the cup in our possession B) not to much of a change will be occurring this offseason.
Let us start out with what Stan Bowman did as far as trades are concerned.
1st, Hawks , as the season was drawing to a close, the Hawks were able to sign Drew LeBlanc (College player of the year chose the Hawks)....
2nd of all,...after winning in Sweden and being the MVP in the regular season and the playoffs (.943 save percentage 1.85GAA), Antti Raanta, Swedish player of the year chose the Hawks as a free agent.
Let's look at those two things. THESE PLAYERS are choosing to be Hawks! Even though it is very difficult to make our squad, they know about the Hawks and their development of players..., and that the Hawks are a first class organization.
The Hawks bought out the contracts of Steve Montador and Rostislav Olesz to open up some space for the 64 million dollar cap they have this year.
In addition, the Hawks traded away Dave Bolland (Toronto) and Michael Frolik (Winnipeg) and their salaries. I had mentioned in previous blogs that I wondered how the Hawks were going to manage getting rid of Bolland because I thought his salary in conjuncture to his play was completely a mismatch. He made too much money for his production. I actually felt the same way about Michael Frolik, as well. I know that he was decent on the PK. Sure,...but once he had the puck, he was like a lost child in a maze. He has zero clue what to do with the puck. He can skate, he can defend, but he cannot do a darn thing once he has the puck other than shoot the puck down the ice...perfect...PK for you bud! So,...not surprised or disappointed that either player is gone.
Then, in a NOT so surprising move, he re-signed Bryan Bickell. What was surprising was the dollar amount. $16,000,000 for 4 years. ($ 4,000,000 annual cap hit). I thought he'd re-sign, but I honestly thought it was going to be around 2.5 for 3 years.
The players that LEFT on their own accord were really no surprise. Viktor Stalberg(Nashville) for a nice pay raise of $3,000,000,000 for 4 years. He 'kinda wore out his welcome' by the end of the year with the Hawks. Being benched twice during the playoffs, and being demoted from the 3rd line to the 4th line. The start of the season, the 3rd line was the bomb! (Bickell, Shaw, Stalberg)...by the end of the year, we see Stalberg on the 4th line, and Bickell gets promoted to the 1st line. Therefore,...one leaves (Stalberg),...one stays (Bickell). Bon voyage V-berg!
The next player to leave on their own accord was Ray Emery. No surprise there since Philly is offering Ray a chance to start, and that is what Ray really wants. 17-1-0 last year, I think he deserves that opportunity. Good luck Razor! We loved you here in Chicago.
Carter Hutton (Goalie) was signed by Nashville. Can't hate the guy for that. The Hawks are genuinely loaded in between the pipes. With the additon of Antti Raanta, the Hawks lost Hutton and I believe that Karlsson will soon be afterward. The Hawks have Mac Carruth and Antti Raanta they will be molding to be the next Blackhawk....But, who are they going to get as Raanta gets his experience? How about 40 year old former Blackhawk Nikolai Khabibulin? The Bulin Wall is back!!! But, he knows his job is to simply BACK UP Corey Crawford. My surprise again was for how much they paid him? $2,000,000 (including incentives). I figured they could have gotten him for $1,000,000 - $1,200,000. Great job on camp Bulin to get as much as they could get.
Hawks re-sign Nick Leddy ($2.7m/2yrs), Michal Rozsival($2.2m/2yrs), Michal Handzus($1m/ 1yr). Not surprised about the money here,...other than Handzus. I thought Handzus would be paid $1.5-2m a year. He took a hell of a pay cut to stay.
Jamal Mayers, Marcus Kruger are left. I know the Hawks are working on the Kruger deal right now. I also know that at this point Jamal isn't getting any offers. I think this may be the end of the line for Jammer (Jamal. Meyers). He's had a great run in the NHL, now it may be time to consider coaching for him. He was a coach off the ice this year with the Hawks, and I think he'd be a great fit as a coach. How about fire Jamie Kompon and replace him with Jamal Mayers.