This is the fun time of the season. Right now, we are wondering what is on the mind of Stan Bowman and Coach Q.. This season more than years past, he (Bowman) has a lot of talent from the minors and Juniors that could potentially make this team.
With the recent trades of Michael Frolik (F/C) and Daniel Carcillo (LW), and release of Viktor Stalberg (Signed for $12m/4 yrs with Nashville) (LW), the Hawks obviously have holes at ....you guessed it....LEFT WING.
In the minors, those that we have at LW are:
1) Jeremy Morin: Has had a few visits to the show and has become a fan favorite. He has grit, size, quick hands, can fill the net, not afraid to drop the gloves, can play any line you put him on and I think he'd do well. He'd fit in well on the 3rd line with Shaw.....sounds like a good fit.
2) Brandon Bollig: He's muscle. That's all he is. He's a healthy scratch most of the season. I think he gets a healthy dose of Rockford this season.
3) Ben Smith: Can play wing or Center. He'd also fit in well with Shaw. But, would also be a good guy to compliment Kruger on the 4th line, as well.
4) Jimmy Hayes (RW- normally): Plays a solid winger, and has played on the 3rd and 4th lines before. He'd also, do well complimenting Kruger.
5) Stan Bowman said, "You can never have enough Centers...". If this being the case, I think the possibility is there that Mark McNeill (Shoots Right), Phillip Danault (Shoots Left), Garret Ross (Shoots Left) or even this years selections: Ryan Hartman (Shoots Right) or John Hayden (Shoots Right) could fill that spot. (Shooting Right players have a more difficult time from the LW position).
6) Still and option...and viable one,...probably NOT what people are thinking, is KYLE BEACH. He does play LW (Shooting Right). He just was recently signed to a 1 year deal. He is a scrapper, he can crowd the net, he can score. This isn't a bad option. NOT at all. In fact, I like this option much better than Brandon Bollig returning.
With the recent departure of Dave Bolland (Tor), this opens up a 3rd line center position.
Hawks centerman: Toews, Handzus, Kruger
Hawks that have played Center: Sharp, Kane, Shaw: (Shaw fit the best )
Who fits best?:
1st line C: Jonathan Toews
2nd line C: Michael Handzus
3rd line C: Brandon Pirri
4th line C: Marcus Kruger
The ONLY person that could be pulled out of that position (and fits okay doing so), is Marcus Kruger. He played so me wing during the playoffs and did a good job.
If that happens, the Kruger would be put to wing...on the 4th line and that really gives the Hawks only a few options at center spot for the 4th line.
1) Move Andrew Shaw from a very productive 3rd line to a 4th line center. : NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.
2) Bring in Drew LeBlanc (Shoots Left), Mark McNeill or Phillip Danault to take that spot. LeBlanc being my first choice there.
IF the Hawks go with my selection of Toews, Handzus, Pirri and Kruger (> 85% chance): then McNeill (Shoots Right), Danault (Shoots Left), and even Ross (Shoots Left) or Teuvo Teravainen (Shoot left) ... have to convert to wing as they fight for that spot. I don't see LeBlanc outside of the Centerman spot. Smith would have an outside chance to make the team then.
IF the Hawks start these lines:
Left Wing - Center - Right Wing
Bickell - Toews - Kane
Sharp - Handzus - Hossa
Shaw - Pirri - Saad
(Saad and Bickell have switched.....Shaw back to Center, Kane and Hossa switched) Pirri and Handzus could...and often would switch, also.
The 4th line could be tricky...If you keep Kruger at Center then here are a few options:
Jimmy Hayes - Marcus Kruger - Ben Smith (natural position is Right Wing)
Kyle Beach - Marcus Kruger - Mark McNeill (Beach and McNeill being Gritty players and Right handed shot from McNeill.)
Garret Ross - Marcus Kruger - Jimmy Hayes (RW his natural position)
Phillip Danault - Marcus Kruger - Jimmy Hayes
Phillip Danault - Marcus Kruger - Mark McNeill (I kind of like this one)
Phillip Danault - Marcus Kruger - Ben Smith ( Intriguing line to me. I like this one also.)
Brandon Bollig - Marcus Kruger - RW(Who cares? because I'd be pissed off with this scenario).
and obviously a combination of these guys with Kruger as the main piece.
IF....Kruger moves to WING?: Left handed shot....let's put him at Left Wing.
Marcus Kruger - Drew LeBlanc - Ben Smith/ Jimmy Hayes
Marcus Kruger - Phillip Danault - Mark McNeill (interesting to say the least)
Marcus Kruger - ( I don't foresee Ross, or McNeill in the center position with Kruger as wing)
Marcus Kruger - Teuvo Teravainen - McNeill (with speed and grit mix)
Marcus Kruger - Teuvo Teravainen - Jimmy Hayes/ Ben Smith ( I don't see this happening at all).
I left out some players (Hayden and Hartman) because I don't see any scenarios with them as of yet. I think their chance to make the team (either one) is very slim.
I foresee Danault and McNeill with the most options with Ben Smith and Jimmy Hayes not far behind.
We'll get to see what the Hawks do with this WONDERFUL problem come September. Can't wait.
Now.....let's get even deeper....THE SALARY CAP. Capgeek shows the Hawks at @ $2,0008,205 room left with TWO to sign....IF Morin, Hayes and Bollig are present on the team.
Let's take away Bollig for a second. That would put the cap at $2,583, 205 with THREE to sign.
This is assuming that Morin and Hayes MAKE THE TEAM. I believe both have a strong shot.
Now,... (Strongly assuming Pirri makes the team), let's subtract Brandon Pirri's salary of $870,000 = $1,713,205.......This would mean that both Danault AND McNeill could not make the team together.
McNeill's cap hit = $1,113,333
Danault's cap hit = $ 963,333
Ross's cap hit = $ 636,667
Smith's cap hit = $ 562,500
and of course Bollig = $575,000
I believe Leblanc will probably be at least $1,000,000....Doubt he gets the shot.
So,....here are combinations that work.
Morin, Hayes, Pirri, Danault, Smith.
Morin, Hayes, Pirri, McNeill, Smith.
Morin, Hayes, Pirri, Danault, Ross. (Ross only works with Danault, Bollig or Smith )
Morin, Hayes, Pirri, McNeill, Bollig.
Morin, Hayes, Pirri, Danault, Bollig.
Morin, Hayes, Pirri, Leblanc, Bollig. (If Leblanc gets $1,138,205 or less)
Morin, Hayes, Pirri, Leblanc, Smith. ( If Leblanc gets $ 1,150,705 or less)
For right now,....I'm going to assume these are the best scenarios unless Stan the Man makes another move....(like get rid of Brookbank). We'll see soon.