I know I have posted some of these videos before, but I don’t care. Gretzky once described the NHL season as having three distinct parts and three distinct levels of intensity. There is the regular season, the playoffs, and then the Stanley Cup Finals. After almost two months of grinding, stitches, bruises, blood, athleticism, and brilliance the Kings and Devils will have to find a way to elevate their game even further. It starts tonight and I can’t wait. Truly the best tournament in all of sports.
PS: Kings in 6
Follow the Chief @WindyCitiSports
(Chicago Tribune)–The Blackhawks’ first significant roster moves of the summer involved dealing but little in the way of wheeling, which is what happens when all parties decide that things are generally just fine the way they are. So defenseman Johnny Oduya eschewed free agency for a three-year deal and forward Jamal Mayers re-upped for one year in pacts officially announced Tuesday, basically because both veterans believed there was no place like their current home and the Hawks agreed. Bowman labeled Oduya one of the team’s “top priorities” in the offseason after three assists in six games in the first-round postseason ouster against the Coyotes followed a plus-3 rating in 18 games after being acquired from the Jets. Oduya’s deal averages $3.375 million per year, according to TSN,
It seems like at every turn Blackhawks’ GM Stan Bowman is making a move to further decimate the future of the organization. This Johnny Oduya extension is just the latest in a long line of head-scratching moves that seem to weaken a team that only 30 short months ago appeared to be on the verge of a dynasty. A Stanley Cup is woefully out of reach, and the blame has to fall on Stan Bowman, the “Salary Cap Genius”.
I’ll admit that Johnny Oduya’s presence helped the Blackhawks immensely last season. They were pitiful defensively last year and improved markedly after the trade. Having said that…I didn’t like the trade then, and I like it even less now. At the dead line I said:
Johnny Oduya is not a star player. He is not a piece that will fix all of the Blackhawks defensive woes. He is a third pair defenseman with 13 points and is a -9. If everything comes together down the stretch for the Blackhawks, maybe Oduya’s presence is enough to get the Blackhawks out of the first round…maybe.
Turns out Oduya’s presence was not enough to get the Blackhawks out of the first round. I felt at the time that Stan Bowman vastly overpaid for Oduya. Draft picks and prospects are the life-force of any organization and are an extremely valuable asset. Stan Bowman pissed away a 2nd and a 3rd round pick for role player. I was angry when I thought Oduya was a rental. If I knew Stan was going to commit the team to 3 more seasons at $3.375m then I would have probably had an aneurism. I hate to beat a dead horse, but contract is worse than the Brian Campbell contract. Campbell at $7.14m provides more value than Oduya at $3.375, and Campbell certainly provides more value by himself than the $8.45m combined cap hit Stan has committed to Frolik, Oduya, and Steve Montador over the next two seasons.
Cap hit aside, Oduya doesn’t really solve some of the problems the Blackhawks have on the back-end. They notably needed size and shot blocking, neither of which Oduya does particularly well. The Blackhawks still have many holes to address and now they only have $2,809,872 in cap space heading into the summer(according to Cap Geek). Stan Bowman has the Blackhawks in an all too familiar and perilous position…right at the cap ceiling.
The Blackhawks are now in a position where they will likely have to further deconstruct their dynasty team from 2010. The Hawks have several players who are overpaid, but the two who actually have value are Dave Bolland(2 years $3.375m) and Nik Hjalmarsson(2 years $3.5m). Even though the Blackhawks can’t afford Hjalmarsson, they can’t afford to trade him either so I won’t theorize potential trades involving #4. I like Bolland, but I have been advocating a trade of “The Rat” for probably a year. The Blackhawks suddenly have plenty of depth at center in the organization. Marcus Kruger, Brandon Pirri, and Mark McNeil are young, cheap, and talented. None of those three are ready for a top 6 role on the varsity, but neither is Dave Bolland. Kruger has proven reliable in a checking role and could slide into that spot as the Blackhawks try to trade Bolland for more blueline depth. So while this is an unfortunate possibility, it’s a move that needs to be made. However, do you really trust Stan Bowman to orchestrate another roster move that removes a piece to the former championship puzzle?
The Blackhawks still have talent of which the majority of the NHL would be jealous, but it’s still frustrating to be a Blackhawks fan. Toews is a generational type of talent and his prime is being wasted. Stan Bowman’s ineptitude is closing the championship window on Jonathan Toews. This is like the equivalent of Tom Brady playing his career with the Lions. Hopefully this is the last year of the Bowman era and Rocky Wirtz pulls the plug before it is too late. If things continue on this path, the Blackhawks’ run as a legitimate Stanley Cup contender will not end with a bang, but with a whimper.
PS: I am glad Jamal Mayers has re-signed. He was by far Stan’s best acquisition last summer. Although Coach Q probably pushed hard to get Mayers because he is one of Q’s guys.
Follow the Chief @WindyCitiSports