With free agency set to open up across the NHL in less than 10 days, the most important free agent on the Hawks is set to be turned loose to the rest of the league. Unless the Blackhawks and Martin Havlat have agreed upon a deal and are waiting for the perfect time to announce it, it appears as though Havlat will take his equipment and play somewhere else next year.
Well, before you get ready to set yourself on fire, think about the following things:
- During the extent of his three-year contract with Chicago, Havlat played in more than 60 games during a season only once. While people love to call him a point-per-game player, the reality is, when he only plays 56 games during the season and notches 50 points, he’s not exactly helping in the grand scheme of things, especially when he’s taking home $5 million+ per season.
- As late as November of this year, the media (and some fans) were still under the impression that he wasn’t very good at hockey. Of course, in a matter of just seven months, we’re now told by the same people that re-signing Havlat is worth the risk. Not to mention, they should sign him to a lifetime contract.
- Havlat will be 28 years old when he suits up next season. At this point in his career, what you see is what you get. Unless he magically appears on a line with Alex Ovechkin or Evegeni Malkin next year, Havlat will max out at about 75-80 points in a season. Assuming, of course, that he can stay healthy enough to play in 80 games.
- The Hawks have Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews who are just starting to scratch the surface of their offensive talent. In two years, Kane has amassed point totals of 72 and 70 with considerable room for improvement. Toews has seen seasons of 54 points and 69, but keep in mind, he hurt his knee his rookie year missing 18 games in the process and dealt with the weight of shouldering the captaincy at the beginning of this past season. Both players are more than capable of filling his scoring void.
The hard part is finding the elite offensive players. Just ask any of the Blackhawk teams from 1998 to 2004. They have two of them already, losing the third will not be the reason the Hawks don’t win the Cup next summer.
It would behoove the Hawks to follow the same formula the Penguins used at the trade deadline in March. Find plenty of secondary scoring threats (Bill Guerin, Chris Kunitz, etc.) who don’t commit first degree murder to your salary cap, plug them in with your elite talent, and reap the benefits.
It took Pittsburgh more than half the season to realize that losing Marian Hossa in the off-season to the Red Wings wasn’t the end of the world. Hopefully, it won’t take the Hawks just as long next year to realize the same.