Analysis: Can we get back to sanity about the Blackhawks?

  

 

Just perusing Twitter this morning, man, there is a lot of silliness out there. #loseforhughes and #anythingcanhappen are both unrealistic extremes (albeit, one more so than the other), and the ridiculous back and forth is all about right now—not enough about what can be done this year as a first step to restore this franchise to greatness. So let’s break it down objectively.

The streak feels great, but it’s sort of like cotton candy—little long-term value.

Hey, fine, whatever, everyone is allowed to get a little wacky over a 7-game win streak after what has been mostly a 2004-level garbage season. It’s entertaining. It’s probably good for the younger players in terms of confidence and learning how to win in the NHL. Great.

But after that, it’s (sort of) a mirage that just masks the remaining huge holes and questions on the Blackhawks roster and in the organization.

And, worse still, it only kicks the can further down the road in terms of the hard work that desperately needs to be done if this team is going to beat Winnipeg or Nashville in a 7-game series in May 2020 or 2021—as opposed to bumslaying Detroit on a Sunday afternoon in February 2019.

“Buyers” at the deadline? Buyers?! Just. Stop.

Some, including Team President John McDonough, are even talking about being “buyers” at the deadline.

Really?

That logic would seem to imply that the Hawks would go out and get a meaningfully helpful piece at the deadline—like a 3-4 defenseman who can actually defend, for example.

Having closely covered the last 10 NHL in-season trade deadlines, I can say with some assurance, the price (from the Hawks) to acquire said player is: a solid roster player + a solid prospect + a pick. None of which the Hawks could afford to give up—if it’s about either making or advancing in the playoffs, or, especially building for the future.

Markus Kruger (or Artem Anisimov), a 3rd round pick, and Tyler Sikura won’t get you that player at the deadline—which is always a seller’s market. And the Hawks can’t afford to trade Brandon Saad for that player—if they intend to contend this year. It’s subtracting in order to add.

So stop. It’s stupid.

McDonough is just doing the same thing he has all year, talking out of his nether regions in order to prop up weak ticket sales. That’s all. This is the same guy who raved about Drew Leblanc’s “youtubes” and gets snickered at by players when he shows up to practice in a team warmup. Caveat emptor.

And that mentality clearly implies you’re going to then hold on to the four players currently occupying nearly $23 million in cap space who are all getting older, less competent, less healthy, or no longer (realistically) able to play—Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Corey Crawford and Anisimov. When the trade deadline is the best opportunity to move perhaps 1-2 of those deals for some meaningful, quality assets for the future.

Also, not smart.

The reality of “making the playoffs.”

As of this morning, the Hawks have to catch either St. Louis or Minnesota to make the playoffs—both of which, if I had to bet the mortgage, are unlikely. Especially not St. Louis who have won 6 straight themselves, their last three against Tampa on the road and in a home and home versus Nashville. As much as it pains me to say this, hockey objectivity forces me to: St. Louis is a better team right now than the Hawks. Deeper, more balanced, bigger.

With 3-point games and the Hawks’ eventual return to earth (which is going to happen, probably soon), I wouldn’t bet the house (not yet anyway) on the Hawks making the postseason. Let’s talk more after two road games in Boston and New Jersey this week.

Either way, “anything can happen” isn’t happening.

But say the Hawks do make the playoffs.

I think some people are forgetting, or perhaps never fully understood, how hard it is to win a series in the playoffs, much less a Stanley Cup.

Definitely, some don’t understand that this Hawk team is not the 2012 Kings (a subject Gatekeeper will explore further here in the next couple of days)—a team that, although it squeaked into the playoffs, was built for the playoffs: strong on defense, big, mean.

Like the last three Hawk teams (two of which bowed out in the first round of the playoffs, the other didn’t make it), this year’s model is on the small side and terrible defensively, gets by on flash and dash and wins a lot in 3-on-3 overtime—which doesn’t exist in the playoffs.

Yeah, anything can happen. So go buy a Power Ball ticket. Otherwise, let’s get real.

The “positive” side of the argument.

The team is definitely playing better and responding to Jeremy Colliton.  How much better is debatable. You’re not going to win a lot of games giving up 40+ shots per. You may get lucky with hot goaltending for a while, like this team has.

But winning is contagious and certainly the mentality of this team, especially with all the young players, is vastly improved.

Further, getting the first or second pick (Jack Hughes or Kappo Kakko) in the draft was never likely. So I won’t be upset (at all) if, after a more positive conclusion to a mostly God-awful season, the Hawks settle in somewhere around 10th or 11th, and fill an organizational need with a well-considered draft pick.

An even better outcome.

Add to all I just laid out—improvement on the ice, and a reasonably high draft pick—moving a couple of veteran contracts out at the deadline for more picks and/or quality prospects, and the future shapes up nicely. Plus, more cap space this summer to add “right away” veteran help, and maybe making the playoffs or even, more importantly, advancing in the playoffs becomes a very real and exciting possibility next season, and for successive ones.

But the current mania, especially were it to sway the front office, potentially justifies the “easier” choice of foregoing the tough choices at the trade deadline, or the “crack high” (and inevitable crash) of a first round playoff loss.

Keep your eye on next year and beyond. Don’t fall for the ridiculous clickbait or ticket come-ons that are out there right now. The future is not now, but it may yet be bright.

All I have for now. Follow @jaeckel

Center Ice Forums Analysis: Can we get back to sanity about the Blackhawks?

Viewing 14 posts - 1 through 14 (of 14 total)
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  • #11837
    John Jaeckel
    Keymaster

      Just perusing Twitter this morning, man, there is a lot of silliness out there. #loseforhughes and #anythingcanhappen are both unrealistic extr
    [To continue reading full article, click here: Analysis: Can we get back to sanity about the Blackhawks?]

    Apparently, all goalies are Vikings

    #11844
    CTBLACKHAWKFAN
    Participant

    I couldn’t agree more !! I can live for another season to build it back up!

    ;Like you said on podcast we need Erik Karlson not AP, and Eric G is not a good defender ,

    If I could trade Duncan K, AA, Eric G for picks ,prospects , I would. The hell with the MEATBALLS!!!

    This win streak is false hope,

     

    #11846
    jhawk159
    Participant

    All valid points John. It is nice to see them have some success. I think many fans are conflicted about either hoping the Hawks are bad enough to get a top two pick or hope they make the playoffs. With Kane having an MVP quality season and Toews playing as well as he has it’s really unlikely that they get a chance at Jack Hughes. Any move they make IMO should be geared to the future. Are there any moves that SB can make that accomplish both giving them a better chance to make the playoffs and accelerate the rebuild at the same time?

    #11848
    John Jaeckel
    Keymaster

    I couldn’t agree more !! I can live for another season to build it back up! ;Like you said on podcast we need Erik Karlson not AP, and Eric G is not a good defender , If I could trade Duncan K, AA, Eric G for picks ,prospects , I would. The hell with the MEATBALLS!!! This win streak is false hope,

     

    Thanks, and thanks for listening to the RinkCast.

    Apparently, all goalies are Vikings

    #11849
    John Jaeckel
    Keymaster

    All valid points John. It is nice to see them have some success. I think many fans are conflicted about either hoping the Hawks are bad enough to get a top two pick or hope they make the playoffs. With Kane having an MVP quality season and Toews playing as well as he has it’s really unlikely that they get a chance at Jack Hughes. Any move they make IMO should be geared to the future. Are there any moves that SB can make that accomplish both giving them a better chance to make the playoffs and accelerate the rebuild at the same time?

     

    Thx bud

    Apparently, all goalies are Vikings

    #11850
    matt_ahrens
    Participant

    Well said! I completely agree!

    Teams should become buyers at the deadline when they need one or two or maybe three pieces to get over the hump to be a legit Cup contender; like on of the top four clubs in the NHL. Absent that, don’t leverage the future for another week or two of exciting hockey. Do the work needed to build a good team.

    The two biggest reasons this team is playing well right now are Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. How much fun is it to see 88 & 19 both having what could turn out to be the best statistical years of their careers! The next tier of reasons is the play of Strome, DeBrincat, Murphy, & Dalstrom; then Kahun, Caggiula, Keith, Saad, Kruger, & Gus. Guys are playing pretty well, that’s great! The PP has been clicking better than I can remember, awesome!

    But there are some big gaping holes on this team. And some dead (cap) weight, as you mention.

    You have talked about on the pod cast and in your blogs about the possibility / hope of a (short) lockout, reopening of the CBA, and some compliance buyouts. That’s probably the best case scenario for moving Seabrook off the roster. AA’s NMC expires this summer, making him easier to move; perhaps at next year’s TDL. Crawford is either going to come back to play again, in which case it makes sense to look at moving him, or not play again, in which case they could LTIR him next year and he retires a member of the Blackhawks. I have doubts about Saad’s long term value for the club but I think he’ll have a good year next year and could get a hefty return at the TDL then.

    I’m probably in the minority but I’d like to see the club resign Kruger for around $1.5m per for three years. He can lock down the fourth line C role. Kampf can probably do it too but I have more faith in Kruger.

    Then the club needs defensemen – maybe some of the young guys develop, but adding at top pair guy would be awesome, maybe another top four guy too. Need 3LC, need maybe another top six winger, need bottom six wingers. Need some muscle.

    So, being four or five games out of the playoffs as a result of a long winning streak is fun, but after all of that, the team is still only 8 games the other direction from being the worst in the league.

    Next year should be a playoff contending year. The year after that, this team could be a top 8 team or better; then anything really can happen.

    #11853
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    The one point that should have been a take-away from last year’s play-offs was that all the participants were flawed. There was no powerhouse coming out of either Conference. Vegas won with mirrors and although the Washington/Overchkin story was a nice one, Washington was far from a complete team.

    This year the Western Conference is even more of a mess. San Jose is not built for the play-offs and will not win, the carriage is a pumpkin again for Vegas, Nashville just got owned by St. Louis and so on. Not only is there no dominant team or teams, many of the teams are highly similar in dominance level.

    Enter the Hawks – they have elite talent that few teams have. Their top 2 lines are competetive with any other team’s. Right now the PP is deadly. There are lots of real positives. Flaws sure but who doesn’t. Very weird season for the Hawks but in spite of this they are close to the play-offs. It is truly a season where getting into the play-offs is everything as the team coming out of the West could carry any seeding.

    #11854
    JZS
    Participant

    Nice piece. According to TSN’s Frank Seravalli, the front office isn’t fooled by the winning streak. They understand that this team needs restructuring and won’t be buyers at the trade deadline. As of today, the network listed Anisimov as number 21 on their trade bait board.

    JZS

    #11857
    Falconero
    Participant

    Good analysis (as always) J.J.  Of course I’m enjoying this recent uptick in play like most Hawks fans, but trading young assets / draft pick just for two home playoff gates is foolish short term thinking.  Go ask Jerry Reinsdorf how well that works long term.

    The White Sox kept fooling themselves that they could add a verteren here and there and make the playoffs and hopefully “get hot”.  What happened was that we watched (or not) lousy teams for  4 years before they looked in the mirror and admitted that they were lying to themselves AND the fans and started the complete rebuild.  If the Hawks follow this game plan, Kane, Toews et al will taking their “One Last Shift” in front of 9,000 naive fans before any deep playoff runs.

    Falconero

    #11858
    fattybeef
    Participant

    The Hawks have elite talent all of the Sharks, Flames, Jets and Preds have more of. The Flames and Sharks both have goalie issues but on the ice way better.

    With how they are playing, they could dump 7 straight playing the same as they are now. It’s crazy to watch. Yay winning but not really. Member how they started the year? You member…

    Aside from the netminding, pp and Patrick Kane and ADB reminding everyone its how you use it – this team does not play good 5v5 hockey.

    If it was close to evens one way or another you could sell me on anything can happen but their shot shares and HDC splits are horrid. Close to the worst and the worst in the league respectively.

    The numbers and trends are just not there and no amount of TWTW is going to compensate for that.

    #11860
    Chico Maki
    Participant

    If making the playoffs means this team drafts 7th or 8th, instead of maybe in the top 3.   I’m against making the playoffs.  This team has a lot of holes–on the blue line, goalie, and the bottom 6.

    It’s ridiculous to think this team should ADD at the TDL.  When I say “add”, I mean a rental.  If there’s a long term missing piece available, I’m for it. But, trading a prospect or a high pick for a rental player is craziness.

    It’s nice to see the boys playing better hockey….but the goal scoring is coming from just a few guys (Toews, Kane, Cat, Gus) and they’re giving up 40+ shots a night.  Not something that will win you a playoff series.

     

     

     

    #11864
    6628
    Participant

    I agree with the vast majority of the post. I don’t see any way they could keep the wagon rolling like they have. And agree that it wasn’t very likely the hawks were going to get either one of the top 2 picks. It’s fun to see them win, but it’s really great to see them compete for a full 60 mins no matter how bad they get outshot. If Colliton has done anything so far it’s the full 60 minute effort.

    #11867
    Phil M
    Participant

    Keith and Seabrook decide whether they can be moved or not. I’m not sure Crawford could be traded now even if they wanted to trade him.

    AA and Kruger should be moved for whatever they can get. Gus might have value, if you can get something for him I would move him while you can.

    #12033
    Jake Martin
    Participant

    John, I’m onboard completely with the whole acceptance-of-reality movement you guys have been perpetuating for some time. It brings even me back to Earth at times. That aside, I wana pose a serious question.. 19 and 88 have had two very solid bounce-back seasons. Do you get the feeling that this level of play from them is something we can count on from them for the next 3-5 years, or is this potentially one last hoorah of unrivaled dominance form them? 88 certainly hasn’t shown any indication that he’s slowing down, but he IS on the wrong side of 30.

    By closing shop on competitive hockey for at least another year, are we sacrificing meaningful years of both of these careers in order to conduct a complete, honest, and humble rebuild? Is that worth it? Are we potentially effectively null-and-voiding the tail end of the dominant portions of their careers? If that’s the case will they still be worth building the team around?

    I guess what I’m asking you is where you see the role of 88 and 19, perennial hall of fame superstars that have defined a brand and an organization for a decade, on YOUR ideal 2021-22 Chicago Blackhawks. Are they still the foundation of the team? Are they in support roles for a solid new cast? I guess it’s been especially difficult for me to mentally get over the hurdle of ending the era. They are such once-in-a-lifetime talents that it’s hard for me to envision the Blackhawks winning at a meaningful level after their reign as the hallmark players on this team.

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