I would totally crush this group with my first dance with Stanley. When it comes to wedding dancing, half the battle is 90% enthusiasm.
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As noted in the previous post, the Blackhawks could have as much as 5 million dollars in cap space this summer to fill out 4 roster spots. The biggest need for the Blackhawks is legitimate second line center. This has been an ongoing issue for the Blackhawks for the past few years and now they finally have an opportunity to address this hole in the roster.
Brooks Laich is a versatile player who can play any of the three forward positions. He would slide in perfectly next to Hossa on the Blackhawks second scoring line. Laich has been an integral player for the Washington Capitals since becoming a fulltime NHL player shortly after the lockout. Laich has eclipsed 20 goals three times in his career and added 16 goals this year for the surprisingly offensively inept Capitals. Brooks Laich had a salary of $2.4m last year with a cap hit of $2,066,667. Laich is a leader in the Capitals locker room, and Washington will try to find a way to resign him. However, the Capitals suddenly find themselves somewhat devoid of depth as many of their veterans are UFAs. The Capitals have to make some difficult decisions with RFAs Karl Alzner and goaltender Semyon Varlamov. In the event that Brooks Laich is the odd man out in Washington, the Blackhawks should definitely target the productive pivot. Laich could perhaps be a bit over valued in a weak UFA class. If the Blackhawks could clear even more cap space by trading away either Brian Campbell or Hjalmarsson, then perhaps the Blackhawks could get into a bidding war for Laich. Laich between $2.75m and $3m would provide the Blackhawks with tremendous value.
Tim Connelly has been a frustrating player for Buffalo Sabre fans for the past few years. He is immensely talented and a great playmaker, but he has been plagued by injuries and concussions. Connolly is coming off of a contract where he had a cap hit of $4.5m. Given his health concerns there is no way his next contract will approach that level. Connolly is 30 years old and hasn’t played a full 82 games since the 2002-03 season. Connolly presents a high risk, high reward scenario for the Blackhawks. Connolly would be the perfect play-making center for Marian Hossa. In both 2008-09 and 2009-10, Connolly approached point per game numbers in limited action. Pairing him with a talent like Marian Hossa could put both players over the top. If Connolly would be willing to take a short deal at a cap hit around $2.5m the Blackhawks should pounce on it.
The Free Agent class is devoid of quality centers. If the Blackhawks are unable to reach a reasonable deal with either of the two sited above, then they may look to add an “insurance” type of center as they ease Marcus Kruger into the second line center role. Here are a few of the other options:
- Marty Reasoner– Reasoner was a Blackhawk for about 10 minutes in 2010-11 before he too had to be shipped off in a salary saving move. Reasoner is an effective player who had some decent production for Atlanta in 2010-11. While he isn’t a great fit for the second line necessarily, he would add overall depth to the position and would be an upgrade over Jake Dowell and Ryan Johnson.
- Michael Handzus– Another centerman who had a cup of coffee with the Blackhawks could also be a fit. Handzus is a solid two-way player who was an important piece to the LA Kings as they made playoff appearances in each of the past two seasons. Again, not an ideal fit, but a nice depth player who could help the Hawks win.
- Max Talbot– Ideally a fourth line center, but Talbot would add an element of grit that was missing from last year’s Blackhawks team. The Penguins are financially strapped and probably won’t be able to resign Talbot. I like Talbot, but not at a cap hit of more than 1.8m. Hawks signing him is unlikely.
I am not going to sit here and say I told you so, but I totally did. The Canucks are a joke. The softest team in the league. Unworthy of being in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Canucks are a classic “fake tough” team. They will push you and try to get under your skin by diving, chirping, biting, throwing head shots, and complaining. If you stand up to them and push back at them they will completely crumble. The Bruins took it to the Canucks physically and they whimpered away.
NHL Network was really rushing to the defense of the Canucks last night. “Kesler must be hurt. Luongo has vertigo. Burrows is menstruating, blah blah blah”. Truth of the matter is that this is just who the Canucks are. They are a group of cowards who barely beat an injury depleted Blackhawks team in a rebuilding year. They just suck.
Now I even think Vancouver is delusional. Bieksa called Tim Thomas “leaky” in the post game and said that they were showing him too much respect. Yeah, real leaky goalie in net for the Bruins. The Canucks have scored under 2 goals in three of the 4 games and on top of that Thomas has more hits in the series than the Sedin Sisters combined. Showing him too much respect? How, by trying to slash the stick out of his hand and running him every chance they get? Burrows even tried to fight Thomas. Who fights a goalie? Burrows is pathetic.
The only chance the Canucks have to salvage this series is to start Cory Schneider, but even the Boston native Schneider sounded like he wanted to part of the Bruins. “None of the goals were Roberto’s fault. He deserves to be in there for game 5.” Come on now, Cory. You went to Phillips Andover and graduated from BC with honors in 3 years, you’re smarter than that. Luongo’s legs were more open than Lindsay Lohan’s on the Peverly goal. Ryder’s shot looked like a peewee shot it. The only goal that wasn’t on Luongo was Peverly’s second goal. Other than that Luongo was responsible. Maybe Schneider doesn’t want to alienate his hometown team. Maybe he is afraid of the Bruins. Maybe he is just as delusional as the rest of teammates.
This series is over. I originally predicted the Bruins winning in 7 games, but now I don’t think it will take that long. Long live the Original 6. AMERICA.
PS I love Milbury in between periods. Calls the Canucks “smug and arrogant” during game 3 and has the line of the year when he referred to the Sedin Sisters as “Thelma and Louise”. Just perfect. If NBC could replace Pierre McGuire with Darren Pang it would be the greatest hockey broadcast crew ever assembled.
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Full disclosure, I love Brian Campbell. He skates with a fluidity and elegance that is unmatched in the NHL. From a pure entertainment value there is nobody on the Blackhawks that I would rather watch. He makes everything look so easy and he probably makes one “wow” play a game. However, as much as I love Brian Campbell, even I recognize that he isn’t worth the 7 million a year he is currently making. There have been several rumors swirling around lately involving the Toronto Maple Leafs, and where there is smoke there is usually fire.
Campbell for Phil Kessel
This rumor is circulating and was suggested in Jesse Roger’s most recent mailbag on ESPN Chicago. This intrigues me quite a bit because this move would likely have a large domino effect on the Blackhawks roster for years to come. Acquiring Kessel would likely make resigning Frolik a luxury instead of a need. It also wouldn’t surprise me if the negotiating rights to Frolik were apart of this trade because the Maple Leafs struggle to score, and Kessel is by far their most dynamic player. This trade could also make resigning Patrick Sharp next season less of a priority. I think Phil Kessel is arguably the most talented player in the league not named Crosby or Ovechkin, yet he has been largely a disappointment in both cities. If Toronto is willing to trade Kessel after paying a bounty to get him from Boston it is a red flag. The reward is outweighs the risk here. Acquiring Kessel and having him be a piece rather than the star in a market much friendlier than Toronto could allow Kessel to excel. The Blackhawks could shed salary and pick up a Stamkos type talent. I think this trade would likely be Campbell, Frolik, Brouwer, and prospect Kyle Beach(a Brian Burke type of player) for Kessel and maybe another piece. The Blackhawks would have to jump on this opportunity.
Campbell for Mike Komisarek
I will FREAK OUT if this trade goes down. Saving 2.6m a year for a player that is injury prone and can’t skate well enough for the Hawks style of play would be a serious mistake. Brian Campbell provides more value at 7m per season than Komisarek does at 4.5. If this is the only option then the Blackhawks don’t have a viable trading partner and should look to keep Campbell as a part of their championship core.
San Jose +155 @ Vancouver -175
This series is over. I called this series wrong at the start. I was way off. I thought that San Jose’s depth up the middle would be a major difference for the Sharks. I forgot about the fact that the San Jose Sharks have ZERO quality defensemen. None. That’s the only reason the Sedin Sisters have been able to produce. This series really makes my skin crawl. It’s so obvious now that the Blackhawks are still the best team in the league. One more game played by Bolland, or if Sharp was able to bury that powerplay goal the Blackhawks would be well on their way to defending their Stanley Cup championship.
Anyways, San Jose had their chance last game, but they couldn’t get the big home win they needed. The Canuck fans will be rocking and if Vancouver scores early and plays physical, San Jose will fold as always. I’ll have to look east for a team to take out Vancouver. I don’t know if Boston or Tampa Bay can do it, but I’ll be rooting hard for them.
I hate to do it, but for the sake of picking winners and bankrupting Costa Rica, I have got to go with the home favorite Vancouver.
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