Blackhawks Mailbag Edition
As the All-Star Game approaches, we have some time to breathe and reflect a little on where the Blackhawks are at this season.
I thought it'd be a perfect time for a mailbag. I have your questions that I will answer below. Also, there were some great posts from the message board that I grabbed to build off of.
Here we go:
1) You're Stan, the TDL is fast approaching. There are a few different directions you can go. Which do you choose and why?
2) While it is way too early and premature to grade Dach and Boqvist relative to their respective draft positions, I'm going to ask you to do it anyway. Given where they were picked, would you use the Hawk pick on them again if you had the opportunity to get in the Way Back Machine with Peabody and Sherman? (it's a cartoon if you're unfamiliar...not sure if that was on in Canada or when you were a young blogger). If not, who would you take instead?
1) If I'm Stan, I'm putting in a lot of calls to get prepared to sell (if the Hawks drop off) or to potentially tweak (if the Hawks continue to play well). By tweak, I mean, maybe trading a guy like Dylan Sikura for a depth defenceman or something. I don't think by any means should he be a "buyer".
For me, it all depends on the standings and unfortunately, due to the 3-point parody in the NHL, it looks like it'll be a dogfight right until the end for the Blackhawks.
It would almost be easier if the Hawks tanked and then I would look to trade a goalie, try to move Maatta, Smith and possibly Saad. However, that's not the case so it could be a boring TDL for Chicago – and that's not the worst thing.
2) In terms of grading Dach and Boqvist, I would like to wait to see their entire body of work this season before getting too in-depth.
I will say that while Dach hasn't been putting up the production that we might have liked to see, he's been solid for an 18-year-old. Also, watching his defensive awareness has been impressive. After watching the last game, maybe he and Kane should be on the same line once Strome returns.
We won't be able to properly evaluate Dach's draft status for years to come. Right now, he's on pace with Hughes and Kakko for points so he's doing ok to start his career in comparison to those guys who were seen in a different tier as Dach.
Boqvist's overall game has been better than I would have anticipated. I still think he should be in the AHL this season, but that's me. He's been good paired alongside Keith and the reality is that the Hawks need him due to injuries.
I have a lot to say about Boqvist in an upcoming blog. He's a different player in terms of style than I imagined when the Hawks drafted him. He's not as dynamic in his skating as – let's say – the guy taken before him, Quinn Hughes who can completely take over a game with his abilities.
Don't get me wrong Boqvist is a great skater, just in a different way. He doesn't have the straight-up speed and acceleration of a Hughes or Makar but he has a skill set that should be a staple on the Hawks blueline for years.
His draft status is TBD at this point for me. We can circle back on that in a couple of years.
Tyler- Do you think on-ice team chemistry is underrated here by commenters on hockey blogs?
IMHO, it is.
Anyone that has been reading my work for a while now, will know I'm a huge chemistry guy. It's that immeasurable facet of the game but – to me – so important.
I can't speak to how underrated it is to the fans, but if anyone has ever played hockey (at any level), I would hope they would understand it's place in the game.
The comradery in the dressing translates on to the ice. With that being said, you still need the right mix of skill, I believe though if you start to form a little chemistry and you like your teammates, you work hard to continue to build to get better as an individual and team.
One last note, chemistry on and off the ice is taken into account around the trade deadline. Stan has been good in the past at bringing in the right guys the gel.
What's up with Shaw?
There has been little to no progress with Andrew Shaw. He also just welcomed his 2nd child (a son, Dax) into the world on Jan 17th so he's going to be focusing on that.
Unfortunately, Shaw has had multiple concussions in the last few years and that was a risk when Bowman traded for him.
I hope he can return this season, but it's not looking good.
If the Hawks decide to go a different route and part ways with Lehner and Crawford, what do you think are some viable options to replace them by either trade or free agency?
Do you think one of the goalies and gust are traded, if so to what team and for what?
Maybe Crawford/Lehner to Carolina for Foegele and a 2nd to Toronto for Ceci, Kapanen, and pick or prospect. Other assets probably need to be added but that base of the trades.
Hawks now have 3 signed goalies in Rockford. Sooooo who's going; Panda or Crow?
I'm lumping these 3 goalies themed questions together.
I'm not in the dressing room or around the team, but I can tell you what I would do right now:
* Sign Robin Lehner to 4 or 5 years at $7M (I wouldn't go higher than $8M)
* Trade Corey Crawford and eat half of his salary if that's what it takes to move him. At the time of the Lehner signing, you sit Corey down and tell him what's up and ask him where he'd like to be traded to and then try to facilitate that.
* Bring up Kevin Lankinen to see what he has at the NHL level. You need to know how this guy looks.
* Get Collin Delia a game or two as well. He's been playing really well in Rockford right now.
Scott, in regards to your trade proposals, I think Carolina would be a great spot for Crawford. The only thing is they don't have a ton of cap space so the Hawks would have to take back James Reimer + salary to make that work.
Kapanen is a name that's out there right now for Toronto but I don't think the Leafs will go that big with a goaltender acquisition. They are more likely to ask the Hawks about Collin Delia and try to keep Kapanen.
question for the mailbag: is it time for Stan to go? Changing coaches hasn't helped and the prospect pool seems extremely shallow. Bad trades and poor cap management have the Hawks where they are now IMO. I don't say it lightly since we're talking about someone's job
Great question. I think we'll know more at the end of this season. If the Hawks miss the playoffs, I think you see big changes.
However, if they squeak in, both Bowman and Colliton probably stay.
I'm with you though, Bowman has been made some questionable moves and hasn't been able to truly fix this team in the last 3 years.
Ask me this question again in mid-April.
Joy ... 8 more days of game-less squabbling on the message board. Riveting.
On a more positive topic - since Koekkoek has been playing noticeably better lately, I looked up his stats/history and was surprised to find that despite playing some games in 6 NHL seasons, he has played in only 130 games total. If the old adage that it takes a d-man 250 games to reach his potential - KKKK is only halfway there. I guess what I'm saying/hoping is that he is getting better because he is maturing and that maybe he'll turn out to be the d-man he was projected to be when he was taken 10th in the 2012 draft. And wouldn't that be very cool?
I'm hoping it's not 8 full days of game-less squabbling. I will do my best to keep it light and have some fun blogs coming up.
I'm glad you brought up Koekkoek though.
Does he ever look like a completely different player? I heard one of the commenters mention the other night that he's finally got some "jump" to his game.
He's a guy that has the skills and grit that the Hawks desperately need. You know who he reminds me of right now is Michal Kempny; both lefties, both 6'1/195-ish, play with an edge and both skate similarly.
I need to see a larger sample size but if he can play like this for the remainder of the season, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Hawks re-up him for 1-1.5M per for a couple of years.
That's all I have for now. Enjoy the All-Star festivities.
See ya out there!