The long awaited return of James Wisniewski is just a couple of days away. He was sent to Rockford for a two game rehab assignment and will return on Sunday to make his season debut against Columbus. (Chris over at The Third Man In recapped the Wiz’s return in Rockford.) As long as he is 100% healthy, Wiz will provide a huge boost to the ‘Hawks defensive depth. His presence will take either Matt Walker or Brent Sopel out of the lineup. While Walker and Sopel combined for their best game of the season against Ottawa, they are who they are at this point and getting one of them out of the lineup and replacing them with a healthy Wisniewski makes the ‘Hawks defense that much stronger. He’s solid at the back line, can fill up the net, and isn’t afraid to drop the mitts, as Jordan Tootoo is willing to testify. Sopel and Walker can only do one of those three so I’d say things are looking up.
The front office will have a salary cap decision to make once Burish and Aaron Johnson get healthy but I’m extremely skeptical about Johnson returning anytime soon. I haven’t seen anything about his progress since Mike Grier plastered him across the boards in San Jose. Even so, Burish will be back soon and something will have to be done to get under the cap.
Without taking a long look at the numbers, the most obvious decision would be to either trade Sopel or take the chance of sending him to the minors. If the ‘Hawks try to send him to the minors, he will have to clear waivers where any team can make a claim on him. However, if he clears waivers and the ‘Hawks have a need for him down the road, they’d have to put him on re-entry waivers, where a claim would put the ‘Hawks on the hook for half of his remaining salary. It’d be an incredibly risky move with division rivals Nashville or Columbus lurking with a ton of cap space. The main question will be is Dale Tallon ready to call Sopel a sunk cost and dish him off for a conditional draft pick. With his job security supposedly hanging by a thread, it probably wouldn’t be the best idea to go to his bosses and tell them he traded someone three months into his 3 year, $9 million deal for a conditional pick. Either way, it should an interesting decision.
OMG!! Did you know the ‘Hawks need a 2nd line center??!!?? Good thing, we have him to steer us in the right direction.
Patrick Sharp does a nice job in the middle, but he’s such a quality player that he’d do a nice job anywhere. Fact is, he’s a winger and would be so much better playing with a legit center.
So let me break this down, Patrick Sharp plays a good center but he’s good enough to play anywhere. If he plays wing, he’d be even better!! So far in 26 games as a center, Patrick Sharp has 16 goals and 10 assists for 26 points. I have a hard time seeing how much better he’s going to get playing on the wing. Don’t get me wrong, I would love for the ‘Hawks to have the strongest team as possible but right now there’s no one realistically out there (This means you Mats Sundin and Michael Nylander) that’s going to make Sharp a better player or the ‘Hawks a better team. To be fair, Rosenbloom nixes any idea of Mats Sundin but for a reason I find a bit silly and false.
Sundin has never been on a champion. He chose not to try last season. How can you not question his heart or spine at this point? I’m not sure I’d want Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews exposed to a whiff of that mentality.
First of all, he has been on a champion, many of them actually. 1991, 1992, 1998, he led Sweden to World Championships, then in 2006, he captained Sweden to a gold medal. It’s too bad his heart and spine weren’t strong enough for a Stanley Cup. I heard it is pretty heavy, maybe he hurt himself trying to lift it once at the Hockey Hall of Fame. Those medals are way lighter anyway.
Sundin doesn’t belong on the ‘Hawks for many reasons but none of them have to do with his unwillingness to jump into a wood chipper for a Stanley Cup. He’s old. He’s demanding the maximum salary for a half season of work. He’s not half as good as he was just a couple years ago. He’s a mercenary. It’s going to take a while for him to get into game shape. The ‘Hawks would have to clear out a couple of contracts to fit him in. Want me to go on? Didn’t think so, I’ll close with the immortal words of blackhawkbob, ‘I will be the happiest man on the planet if/when Sundin signs somewhere else, so we can all move on with our lives.’ Amen brotha.