CHRISTMAS IN JULY? You Must Be Dreaming.

Now that the offseason is longer than any of us wanted it to be, there's more time for every good little boy and girl to make out their list for Stan Bowman...Stan-ta Claus.

OK, I promise I'll never say Stan-ta Claus again.

Now then, everyone's got their wish list. The Hawks need a defenseman? Ryan Suter's available. Maybe Dennis Wideman as a Plan B. Jason Garrison? Sure, why not?

How about a center? I actually suggested Olli Jokinen. The more I think about it, the more I should probably keep such thoughts to myself. We'll get to it in a second.

Goaltending? Oy gevalt.

Now then...the Blackhawks already have 12 forwards, 5 defensemen and two goalies signed for next year. Let's take it by position:

GOALTENDER: Corey Crawford has two years left on his contract, Ray Emery just signed for another year. Like it or don't like it, but learn to love it because this is the Blackhawks' goaltending for next season. Let's move on.

CENTER: You've got Jonathan Toews, Marcus Kruger and Dave Bolland all signed. There are a couple other options here, Patricks Sharp and Kane. Neither are good ones. Marian Hossa needs someone to get him the puck, and Sharp is a scorer, not a playmaker. Kane's talents are wasted at center, and both he and the Blackhawks are better served by him residing on Toews' left wing. The problem here is actually pretty simple - they have a #1 and two #3 centers. Marcus Kruger looked OK briefly pivoting Sharp and Viktor Stalberg, but he's just getting manhandled out there. Unfortunately, he's not strong enough at the faceoff dot to merit being the #4 center on a full-time basis, and he doesn't have the jam to be a bottom-six wing. Maybe he'll be a solid center in the future, but the Hawks are in the right-now business.
I don't think there should be any discussion at this point of anyone other than Dave Bolland manning the third line.
The only center that could possibly come up is Brandon Pirri, but his game is as a scoring line center. Could QStache realistically say, "You're here to stay kid. Say hello to your new pals, Mr. Sharp and Mr. Hossa"? I didn't think so, either.
So the need here is a second-line center, preferably a lefty. I thought Jokinen, but the simple fact of the matter is that if the Hawks decide to go the veteran route, Jokinen might be worth a phone call...long enough to learn that Jokinen is looking for a multi-year deal. There really aren't any UFA centers other than Jokinen who can fit into the Hawks' second line.
So the option is trade. Is Pittsburgh really serious about trading Jordan Staal? Could CT's worst nightmare come true and Derek Roy comes here? Those are both guys with a year left on their deals, and they aren't too expensive - for now.
Perhaps for the fourth line the most sensible option is to just bring Barbados Slim back since he doesn't cost much and he did yeoman work all year.

RIGHT WING: Two big question marks here - first is the whole second-line center thing. If they get an honest-to-God #2 center, Kane and Toews are reunited, and if they're both healthy all season we could finally see them each crack 90 points. Second is the overall well-being of Marian Hossa come October, or whenever the season commences. A healthy Hossa with a real center could easily score over 25 goals. He potted 29 with a revolving door to his left all season. Andrew Shaw will be looking over at Bolland, at least until he finally gets decapitated out there. There's also Michael Frolik, Jimmy Hayes and Ben Smith in the, uh, wings. So there won't be anything to do here. If anything, there's moveable parts for a potential trade.

LEFT WING: Again, back to the #2 center. If the Hawks can get one, then Sharp and Viktor Stalberg can trade places on the top two lines all season. If Bryan Bickell shows some hustle all year, he should be calling the third line home. Then there's two Brandons...Saad the Skilled and Bollig the Barbarian. If QStache decides Sharp is his guy in the middle, then Saad's top-six ability gets broken in.

DEFENSE: Ah, expense. All those names up at the top of the article? Yeeeeeaaah, there's no way in Hell the Blackhawks can spend all the money to get any of those guys. Maybe if they move a contract like Niklas Hjalmarsson's, maybe a guy like Wideman can fit financially. But if the Hawks decide to go long-term on a defenseman, then they are rolling the dice on not being able to afford Nick Leddy in a year when his paper comes up. And let's face it here - guys Leddy's age (21) who already have a 37 point season under their belt don't exactly grow on trees. So with Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook moving up the ranks of top defensive pairs again once Suter gets paid somewhere other than Music City, and Leddy and Dylan Olsen holding down the 3 and 6 spots respectively, the only big question mark is whether Steve Montador can answer the bell when the season starts. Now here's the thing...the Hawks actually don't have to do a damn thing here if they don't want to. A healthy Montador along with Hjalmarsson gives them a full complement of defensemen. Whatever they decide to do, they're wise to keep some flexibility for whatever the new CBA brings, plus they'll need to have some agility to keep Leddy and possibly either Stalberg or Bickell a year from now. Leddy's the only one of the three who is a restricted free agent in 2013.

Now everything you read above? It's just an idiot banging away at a keyboard. I just went position-by-position, never bringing up the pathetic power play or possible coaching changes - the next year (or until there's a firing) will have some Bowman/QStache soap opera at some point.Plus, you never know when Stan's phone will ring and what's being offered on the other end.

I do feel confident that all the names you just read will no be a part of the Blackhawks picture come July 1st.

And I never mentioned Dan Carcillo because I just feel a lot better pretending he doesn't exist.

Stay tuned.


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  • 5/1/2012 10:06 PM Wheeler wrote:
    Do whatever it takes to land Staal or (in my fucking dreams) Dubinsky so that the number two center issue is finally, and mercifully, resolved.

    See what you can get for Hammer.

    See what you can get for Frolik.

    See if you can't snag Zach Bogosian from Winnipeg to pair with Leddy.

    Enjoy a complete roster (with some kids ready to come up the pipe) and pray that Crawford is more Howard than Mason.

    Ladies and gentlemen, my 2012-2013 Chicago Blackhawks.
    Reply to this
  • 5/2/2012 12:11 PM john wrote:
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  • 5/2/2012 2:17 PM Stay Frosty wrote:
    Dennis Wideman? Guh.

    They HAVE to start by shoring up #2 center. It's been a gaping hole for the past few seasons. They have the pieces to make a move for a guy like Staal or (in my fucking dreams) Dubinsky. So do it. Normally I wouldn't hold my breath but all of the sudden the Bears got a legitimate WR and the Cubs hired a GM who believes in statistical analysis so maybe dream can come true?

    Get what you can for Hjalmarsson and get out.

    Get what you can for Frolik and get out.

    And StanBo needs to call his boy Cheveldayoff to see what it would take to pry Zach Bogosian loose. Put him on the second pairing with Leddy and all of the sudden you have Keith/Seabrook Lite. Two young defensemen who are going to have growing pains but have HUGE upsides and tons of potential.

    Then we've all just got to cross our fingers that Crawford is more Howard than Mason.

    That team would give me a serious boner.
    Reply to this
    1. 5/2/2012 9:00 PM Jim wrote:
      I always liked Dubinsky, but hasn't he been knocked down to the 3rd and 4th line for the last few months?
      Reply to this
      1. 5/2/2012 11:31 PM Stay Frosty wrote:
        He's had an admittedly rough year on a pretty stacked Rangers team.

        Which gives me hope they would actually move him. Well, that and he was the first name tossed around in just about every Nash to the Rangers scenario.

        He's always come across like a much better version of Bolland to me. Especially since he actually wins defensive zone faceoffs and doesn't wind up for 8 seconds before he takes a slapshot.
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