Happy Friday everyone! I'm popping in with 5 quick thoughts on the Hawks based on what I'm seeing and hearing. I'll break them out below and then let the conversation continue on the message boards.
Artem Anisimov had a solid game last night and he might be heating up at the right time. There have been a lot of whispers of the Hawks looking to move AA.
This is the tough job Stan Bowman has right now. His team is finally playing well and hovering around a playoff spot but the mandate with Anisimov HAS to be to get anything you can to get his contract off the books.
He's a fine player, but he clearly doesn't fit in Chicago anymore as he's been relegated to the 3rd/4th line with the emergence of Dylan Strome.
Jeremy Colliton is used to platooning goalies like he is with Ward and Delia. This is how he handled the Rockford situation last year with Glass, Delia and Berube.
I wasn't sure how the rotating of defence was going to go though. It does appear to be creating some separation from guys like Dahlstrom and Koekoek to Forsling. The latter may find himself on the outside looking in or watching from another city. It sounds like the Hawks are liking what Koekkoek brings in terms of skill and character off the ice. Don't be surprised if Forsling is moved as a part of a package.
Cam Ward is earning his paycheques these days. He had another 40+ save performance last night. I think if there is uncertainty with Crawford heading into the offseason, you may see the Hawks resign the veteran goalie to another 1-year deal. He and Delia are playing well off each other. The big question to me is if that happens, does Ward gets a NMC this time?
The Rockford IceHogs have been playing better of late with 7 wins in their last 10 games, however, I've heard there could be movement from that team as the NHL trade deadline nears.
The feeling last year (as I reported here) was that the Hawks as an organization wanted to create a winning environment and that included the AHL affiliate.
They ended up stacking up for a nice playoff run with veterans like Franson, Clenndenning, Bouma, DiDimenico, etc. I heard this year might be the same as this ‘Hogs team has had a very up-and-down season. If there are any takers, I wouldn't be surprised to see guys with NHL experience like Davidson, Martinsen and Schroeder acquired for a depth play come playoff time.
Last year, Joel Quenneville tried the Keith-Seabrook pairing for 362 minutes but the eyeball test and advanced stats (48.68 CF% and -7 GF/GA difference) didn't have great things to say.
For this reason – plus depth concerns – Quenneville didn't play them much as a duo. However, during this recent stretch of solid games, Colliton has reunited them.
They have played much better with 303 minutes together and while their CF% isn't amazing at 44.61% they are a team-leading +6 as a pairing.
With both players not likely moved (maybe ever), is this the best position for them to succeed? It just might be!
The Hawks host Columbus on Saturday night and it might be the last time they see Artemi Panarin in a Blue Jackets uniform.
We're just 10 days away from the TDL – I'll pop in with any whispers as the deadline nears.
See ya out there,