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Stan Bowman wrecking a dynasty right in our face

May 30, 2012 Leave a comment

(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.

 

 

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Carcillo re-signs and gets a raise…wait, what?!?!

March 13, 2012 Leave a comment

(ESPN)–The Chicago Blackhawks agreed to a two-year contract extension with forward Daniel Carcillo, who underwent knee surgery in January. “I’m excited,” Carcillo said Monday. “It was obviously my goal to have a great year here. That really didn’t pan out with the injury. It was kind of out my control. I’m the happiest guy in Chicago to hear I’m coming back for another two years.” The average salary of the contract is $825,000 per season, a source told ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun. The Blackhawks didn’t announce the financial terms of the deal. The Blackhawks acquired Carcillo to add toughness this season, but the results were mixed. He was suspended twice, including once for the hit he made while injuring his knee on Jan. 2. He also was suspended for an incident in last year’s Stanley Cup playoffs. “He has a purpose behind the way he plays and he had a tough couple of suspensions he can learn from as well, but at the end of the day he gives us a lot of depth in an area we can use,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said.

 

I don’t even know what to say anymore.  Just when you think Stan Bowman can’t be any worse as a GM, he goes and pulls a stunt like this.  This contract extension makes zero sense.  Carcillo plays a role that every team needs, but he doesn’t play it well in my opinion.  He too often crosses the line.  He takes bad penalties, gets suspended, and doesn’t bring a lot to the table other than his grit.  Carcillo played got some top 6 minutes in his 28 games with the Blackhawks early this season.  Playing alongside some of the best players in the world Carbomb only managed 11 points in 28 games.  He doesn’t kill penalties, he doesn’t skate particularly well, and he plays reckless.  Last season, the market for Carcillo was minimal.  The Blackhawks signed the unrestricted free agent winger to a 1 year $775k deal.  Fast forward 9 months and Stan has decided that after multiple suspensions and a torn ACL Carcillo’s value has somehow gone up by $50k per season.  How does that make sense?  Carcillo would be lucky to get $600k on the open market given his play this season coupled with his serious knee injury.  The Blackhawks don’t have infinite cash to throw around.  We live in the salary cap era where every extra dollar counts.  When Stan replaced Dale Tallon we were told that he was an “expert cap manager”.  Well I haven’t seen one transaction to prove it.  It’s time to fire Stan.  The team is getting worse and he is locking the Blackhawks into bad deal and pissing away assets left and right.  It’s like he is trying to torture Blackhawks fans.  Just messing with our minds as he and his old man are still secretly on the Red Wings payroll.  Seems pretty far-fetched until you realize his true identity.

 

I’m on to you Ben, you diabolic dick.  Go back to the island and get the hell away from my team!!!!

 

PS: #FireStan

 

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Hey Stan Bowman, WTF!?!?!

February 10, 2012 Leave a comment

 

I know people will probably be salty about this blog, but I think it’s time to start looking at Stan Bowman’s body of work.  Bowman was recently extended through the end of the 2016 season, but I am not sure he has earned it.  Stan Bowman has done some things very well and made some shrewd moves so far in his tenure, but he has failed to surround his top talent with a supporting cast capable of winning the Stanley Cup or even the Central Division.  A team led by Toews, Kane, Sharp, Hossa, Keith and Seabrook should not be backing into the playoffs following their Cup run, and certainly shouldn’t be in fourth place in the Central after the All-Star break.  The window for winning is short in the salary cap era, and in my opinion Stan Bowman did not deserve that extension.

I do want to acknowledge certain elements of Stan’s job in which I feel he has performed very well.  Firstly, the Blackhawks have completely rebuilt their prospect pool, and did so in a very short order.  The Blackhawks system is ranked in the top 5 by just about every scouting service and Stan deserves plenty of credit for that.  Some may point to the fact that much of the scouting staff was built by former GM Dale Tallon, but Bowman has been with the organization since 2001 and certainly played a huge role in the overall direction and development of the club.  Stan has also been able to lock up the six core players listed above while still having plenty of wiggle room under the salary cap.  However, it’s Bowman’s use of that wiggle room that has provided the problems for the Blackhawks.

Let’s start by taking a look at the moves Stan made last summer

  • Andrew Brunette: 1 year $2m– This acquisition was a head scratcher from the minute it was announced.  The Hawks have built themselves as a team that skates tremendously well and possesses the puck.  Brunette flat-out can’t skate.  It’s not like Brunette suddenly aged either.  He’s never been able to skate.  He does well along the boards and has pretty good hands in front of the net, but overall he was never a fit for the Hawks style of play. Brunette has 9 goals, 10 assists, and is a minus-10 in 53 games.  9 goals is pathetic considering the amount of powerplay and top 6 ice-time he got early in the season. This was a complete miss by Stan.
  • Michael Frolik: 3 years $2.333m–Ouch.  This signing is probably the most glaring mistake.  Frolik strung together a few nice games against Vancouver and cashed in big time.  Stan obviously put too much weight on three playoff games.  Instead he should have looked at Frolik’s body of work.  During his 28 games with Hawks last season Frolik scored a whopping 3 goals.  THREE.  He is on pace to net 8 goals this season.  Frolik was a restricted free agent and the Hawks would have received some form of draft pick compensation had Stan elected to let him walk.  Big mistake.
  • Viktor Stalberg: 2 years $875k– This was a very nice signing by Stan.  Stalberg is having the best season of his career.  His game is really rounding nicely into form and he should finish the season with over 25 goals.  Stalberg has played on all four lines this year and has been effective on all.  25 goals from a guy making $875k is a steal.  Stalberg is finally using his speed.  He reminds me of “Nuke” LaLoosh from Bull Durham. Don’t think…just skate.  Anyways…great bargain re-sign by Stan here.
  • Dan Carcillo: 1 year $775k– Carcillo was a disaster even before he got hurt.  He had a reputation coming in of a guy that too often plays over the edge and he certainly lived up to that.  The Blackhawks were desperate for some grit, but went looking in the wrong direction.  Thankfully the Hawks can put Carcillo on long-term Injury reserve so his $775k doesn’t count against the salary cap.
  • Jamal Mayers: 1 year $550k– Mayers has been everything you could want in a fourth line player.  He had provided leadership and toughness.  Mayers kills penalties and has even chipped in a handful of points.  Good value out of this signing.
  • Steve Montador: 4 years $2.75m– I am on record as a being a Montador guy.  He has some offensive ability and is always willing to stand up for a teammate.  However, a $2.75m cap hit for a guy always projected to be in your 3rd pair is a steep price.  Giving that much money to a 32 year-old Montador seems like a reach so imagine how it will look when a 36 year-old Montador is pulling down that much cash against the cap.
  • Sean O’Donnell: 1 year $850k– O’Donnell is another veteran well passed his prime that Stan brought in this summer to be a depth player.  O’Donnell, much like Brunette, simply can’t skate well enough to be a consistent factor for this team.  He still thinks the game at an exceptional level which makes up for his physical short comings.  He is a fine as your 7th or 8th defenseman, but O’Donnell has averaged 15 minutes in the 37 games he has dressed.  Which is both too much and too little at the same time.
  • Sami Lepisto: 1 year 750k– I mean…who even knows? Lepisto has only dressed 11 games for the Hawks this season.  If the Hawks felt comfortable with Lepisto they’d throw him out there more than they have.  Instead it seems the Hawks have looked for answers from everywhere else.  O’Donnell and John Scott have played more games that Lepisto and now the Hawks have recalled rookie Dylan Olsen from Rockford rather than turn to Lepisto as a replacement for the injured Montador.  Another $750k in wasted funds against the cap.
  • Corey Crawford: 3 years 2.67m–  It’s hard for me to fault Stan Bowman for this one.  Crawford put up exceptional numbers last season and played very capably against Vancouver in the playoffs.  I have always questioned Crawford’s ability.  To me he doesn’t seem like a great athlete.  He lacks explosion moving side to side and his rebound control isn’t great.  Crawford will always be a guy that needs to have his angles and his mechanics on lock down because he can’t rely on athleticism to make up for errors.  His weaknesses this year have been exposed for many reasons.  Obviously the Hawks team defense hasn’t helped him, and it seems as though he is lacking confidence.  That split second when Crawford questions himself has led to too many goals this season.  While there were other goaltending options out there this summer, it’s tough to blame all of this on Stan.  Perhaps he should have been more aggressive in seeking a capable back-up
  • Ray Emery: 1 year $600k– This deal only looks bad because of how poorly Crawford has played.  Perhaps if the Hawks had pursued a Brian Elliot or a Mike Smith they wouldn’t be in the position they currently find themselves.

 

The Brendan Morrison trade was kind of the straw that broke camel’s back for me when it comes to Stan Bowman’s extension.  The Blackhawks only gave up Brian Connelly.  Was Connelly ever going to play for the Hawks? Probably not.  He is an under-sized puck moving defenseman.  The Blackhawks have plenty of those guys on the varsity already.  However, that doesn’t mean the Connelly can never be an NHL defenseman.  He still has value and Stan basically gave him away for an aging center who wasn’t producing.  Connelly was an asset that perhaps could have been used in a package to bring in a piece that actually helps the Blackhawks. Whereas Morrison has already been relegated to the end of the bench/press box.  Bowman wasted an asset for guy who can’t play and carries at $1.25m cap hit.

If you count Crawford, the Blackhawks have $12,124,996 in payroll this season that is essentially dead weight.  The Hawks are in fourth place in the Central, still don’t have a legit number 2 center, still can’t find a consistent goalie, and are still thin outside of their top 6 players.  Top teams like Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Boston have been able to win the Cup, manage the cap, and stay extremely competitive.  Those teams have built deeper teams and spent more wisely than the Hawks and the only person to blame here is Stan.  Hindsight is 20/20, but there were other options to fill out this roster.  Jose Theodore, Mike Smith, Brian Elliot were all relatively cheap options for goalie. Mike Rupp for grit.  Among others.

I think it’s time for the Hawks to cut bait and go young.  Put Brunette, Frolik, and Lepisto on waivers and bring up the young guys. My team would be…

Morin-Toews-Kane

Sharp-Kruger-Hossa

Stalberg-Bolland-Shaw

Hayes-Pirri-Mayers

Taxi squad Fs= Smith and Bickell

Keith-Hjalmarsson

Seabrook-Leddy

Montador-Olsen

Taxi sqaud Ds= O’Donnell and Scott

 

This team isn’t winning the Cup with the dead weight they are carrying.  Might as well roll with the young guys and find out what you have.  The young guys can’t get experience until somebody gives it to them.

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Rebuilding The Blackhawks: Free Agent Centers UPDATE

June 27, 2011 Leave a comment

I want Brad Richards.  That’s all there is to it.  People are saying they shouldn’t give him a big contract because it would be the same cap burden as Campbell.  That’s a ridiculous line of thinking.  How can you be “burdened” by a top 10 player in the league?  Richards would get a 100 points for the Blackhawks and would give the Hawks the best 1-2 punch of centers in the league.  I think the Blackhawks should offer Richards either 5 years and 35m, or 7 years and 42m.  The time to win is now.  The Blackhawks have cap space, and Richards at 7m a season provides more value than Brooks Laich or anyone else at 4 or 4.5m.  The Hawks can afford Richards and still have enough money to sign another defenseman and give Patrick Sharp a raise.

Forward Lines:

Patrick Sharp(5m, assumed contract extension) Jonathan Toews(6.3m) Patrick Kane(6.3)

Rusty Olesz(3.125m) Brad Richards(7m) Marian Hossa(5.275m)

Ben Smith($812,500) Dave Bolland(3.375m) Michael Frolik(2.275m,assumed raise)

Kyle Beach(1.171m) Marcus Kruger(900,000) Bryan Bickell($541,667)

13th forward(750k)

Defense:

Brent Seabrook(5.8m) Duncan Keith(5.538m)

Nik Hjalmarsson(3.5m) Nick Leddy(1.117m)

Chris Campoli(1.5m) 6th Defenseman(1.2m)

John Scott($512,500)

Goalies:

Corey Crawford(2.67m)

Alexander Salak($612,500)

Total: 64m.  And that’s rounding up.  The real total is a couple hundred grand less than that.  This team as presently constructed would probably go like 82-0.  Just do it Stan.

 

follow me @windycitisports

 

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