The NHL trade deadline came and went for the Blackhawks, yesterday, and Stan Bowman was surprisingly quiet. Other than a few very minor organizational deals, the Blackhawks came out of the deadline with all the same players they went into it with.
I am here to tell you something that you might find surprising coming from the “noted Stan Bowman basher.” The Blackhawks standing pat yesterday is good for the long term future of this team. Certainly, better than most of the alternatives, that is.
This is exactly the scenario John Jaeckel, Tyler Cameron and I spoke about on last week’s Rinkcast. Outside of a few big names, at the all wrong positions, there was not much of a market for what the Blackhawks need. Defense comes at a premium price and an even higher price at the deadline. Rather than pillaging what little depth they have in the system; Stan Bowman chose to survive to fight another day.
I can respect that.
Another thing that this told me is that maybe (just maybe) the front office was smart enough to not buy into this recent playoff nonsense and were able to look at this team from 30,000 feet. The Blackhawks are a team using several improbable hot streaks to make their team look better than any of the supporting statistics. To put it bluntly, the defense is far too bad to fix with a panicked over payment at the deadline.
The Blackhawks need to be smarter than everyone else. Like I have been saying for weeks, they need to be shrewd with their moves. Sometimes shrewd means packing up your briefcase and calling it a day.
Still, the internet (and casual fan) outrage is almost embarrassing. There is simply too much irrational outrage over this year’s lack of deadline moves. Either people are not properly informed, or they just want the team to make moves for the sake of making moves. Regardless of need or common sense.
Let me debunk some myths and meatball outrage that’s floating around this wonderful thing called the internet.
The Hawks could have and should have made and offer for Mark Stone.
Sure. They might have been able to put together a comparable deal to what Vegas did in acquiring the former Ottawa wing. He is a great player. I cannot deny that. Mark Stone is definitely an upgrade over Dominik Kahun, Dylan Sikura, or John Hayden. The question is: Does Mark Stone, alone, make this team a legit Stanley Cup contender?
No, he does not.
Mark Stone can put a very good team in the conversation as a contender. Much like another meatball pipe dream, Artemi Panarin, Mark Stone does nothing to help keep the puck out of the back of the Blackhawks net. This is not the only conundrum, though. If the Blackhawks were to “beat” the Vegas offer, it would have started with a deal resembling Adam Boqvist, David Kampf (who is injured), and a second-round draft pick. This also takes absolutely nothing else into account.
One would have to assume that if the Senators were going to deal Stone, it was going to be to a legit cup contender. Not some house of smoke and mirrors that will most likely end up in the lottery before the playoffs. Then the only thing you’re really acquiring is the right to sign Stone to an extra eight year on a long-term deal. Is giving up your top prospect worth still getting swept in the first round or not making the playoffs at all?
No, it is absolutely NOT worth it.
Another thing that the casual observers are discounting is that Mark Stone is a top line right wing that will make roughly $9.5M (we’ll talk about this later) and expects to play 20 plus minutes a night. Guess who else is a top line right wing that makes $10.5M and expects to play 22 plus minutes a night?
There is simply not enough time in a game to accommodate these players. One of these players would have to cut their time significantly and when you’re paying $20M for two players, that is a tough pill to swallow. I promise you Patrick Kane is not getting pulled off the ice for anyone.
The Blackhawks top six of Caggiula, Toews, Kane, DeBrincat, Strome and Kahun is pretty solid. Keep in mind, this scenario still has Brandon Saad playing on the third line. If you swap Saad for Caggiula, that’s an even more solid top six. Mark Stone is a very nice player, if you don’t have Patrick Kane. Would he ever earn his keep? Probably not.
The last point that needs to be brought up is the tax-vs-salary implications. Now, I am certainly no accountant but this might add a wrinkle into the “supposed” UFA deal Stan Bowman could have offered Stone.
Quick note on Stone’s new 8-year, $9.5M AAV deal… Vegas has no state tax. That’s equivalent to almost $13M in Ottawa
— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) February 25, 2019
In Illinois, this would equate to approximately $350,000. Little things make a difference.
This brings me back to my original point. Who is helping to keep the Blackhawks from facing 35 shots a night and the most high-danger chances against in the league? Not a right wing, that’s for sure. Can he help? Certainly “some“, but not enough to drop a second mortgage on the United Center.
Why didn’t the Hawks trade for the defenseman/defensemen they need? Buncha failures!
My gripe with the casual outrage on this subject is that the market for defenseman was either nonexistent or grossly overpriced. The defensemen that were moved Monday were Nick Jensen, Ben Lovejoy, Connor Carrick, Brandon Montour, Adam McQuaid, Oscar Fantenberg, Erik Gudbranson, Bogdan Kiselevich, and Chris Wideman. Do any of these guys keep the puck out of the Blackhawks net?
Maybe; but probably not. They are certainly not worth over paying to acquire and none of them make this current Blackhawks team a legit cup contender.
Bowman would be better off dealing at the draft, or during the summer, to acquire defensemen. He will get better market value and will have more roster flexibility. I said this on twitter yesterday, but it looks to me that the front office took a “lose-without-losing-on-purpose” mentality. We should all be OK with this.
Where I would have liked to see some movement is players that don’t have a place with the team going forward, like Gustav Forsling, but not worth making an issue over. Let’s see what Bowman does at the draft in June before we freak out, eh?