Better Late Than Never

Perhaps it was because I became jaded after the Hawks previous waiver claim (Radek Smolenak) or maybe it was because I spent most of the weekend contemplating whether to stick my fingers into electrical sockets because of the ‘Great Huet Debate’, but I barely flinched on Saturday afternoon when word broke about the Hawks picking up Anaheim center Andrew Ebbett off a waiver claim.

It wasn’t until early Monday morning when I finally realized what the Hawks got their hands on.

Anytime you can pick up a guy who has legitimate top-6 forward experience on a playoff team for the bargain basement price of $475,000, that’s a good deal.  Ebbett brings just that. 

Last year, Ebbett was called up at Christmas time.  Like most small players, he is a solid skater with good speed and has the ability to be a decent playmaker. 

He eventually took over for Brendan Morrison as Anaheim’s second line center and finished the year with 8 goals and 24 assists in 48 games.  Ebbett built the reputation as being a pretty streaky scorer.  At the end of the year with Anaheim battling for a playoff spot, he had 10 points in Anaheim’s last 12 games. 

Then in the playoffs, he, kind of, sort of, disappeared.  He suited up in all 13 games but only registered a goal and 2 assists.

So what happened since then?

Well, for one, Ebbett’s size won’t do him any favors with any talent evaluators in the NHL.  Standing at a mere 5’9″ and 182 lbs, Patrick Kane won’t be the only one in the Blackhawks locker room now sitting on telephone books.  

Anaheim also had a logjam at center with youngster Petteri Nokelainen and Erik Christensen pushing for more playing time.  It wasn’t until they called up 22-year old defenseman Brendan Mikkelson to fill in for the injured James Wisniewski, though, that someone on the roster had to go.  Ebbett was the guy.

So with his arrival, Jack Skille’s daily commute to Rockford is officially over.  Skille will remain in Rockford and Ebbett will assume his spot on the fourth line wing.  I’m sure Colin Fraser was seen somewhere today praising his teammates’ salaries because if it weren’t for the Hawks’ precarious cap situation, Skille would be the one staying and Fraser would be getting acclimated to Rockford.

Whether it’s the best spot for Ebbett remains to be seen.  The Hawks will be asking him to play a position he’s never played at, save for a couple preseason games this fall.  Playing next to Fraser, the Hawks will most likely have the smallest 4th line in the league, regardless of who the other winger is.

Not to mention, his skill set may not be conducive to that of a 4th line player.  Small, shifty, playmaking centers don’t often double as grinding, hard-checking wingers.     

Either way, his presence immediately gives the Hawks an actual insurance plan in case Dave Bolland’s back troubles keep recurring.  While it was nice to talk about Tomas Kopecky’s ability to play center on any line, there’s nothing to indicate he can actually do it and John Madden is far more valuable when he’s a checking center than when he’s asked to try and carry the load as a number two center.

Getting Ebbett’s versatility at the price tag of a mere $475,000 is an absolute no-brainer for a cap-strapped team like the Hawks.

A lot of times, the unheralded moves a general manager makes turn out to be the best ones.  This just might turn into one of those.

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21 Responses to Better Late Than Never

  1. Dave Morris says:

    I’m OK with Ebbett. Good, reliable player, good move by The Bow Man.

    Now, about that goalie problem…

  2. Forklift says:

    I was hoping Skille would heat up enough for the Hawks to be able to move him.

    Ebbett was pretty much a no-brainer for the Hawks, as soneome who can score a little, and is a tiny cap hit. I like this pickup a lot.

  3. Lou says:

    If Skille gets hot in Rockford he is moveable.

  4. Dave Morris says:

    @Lou> isn’t moving Skille part of the master plan? 😉

  5. Patrick says:

    I think Skille now becomes the first “injury callup” (again) and will also be with the Hawks next year, at a cheaper clip though.

    Long live Jack Skille!

  6. Lou says:

    Dave, he very well could be. It seems that we have some transplanted first round picks in Ladd and Eager so Skille might be one of those guys. He needs to play. 5 to 7 minutes a game ins’t enough for him to continue to grwo. Obviously, if anything, the regular shifts that he will get in Rockford will do him good

  7. Patrick says:

    Lou – I agree with you, but Skille has to play to the role that will help him fit into the Blackhawks, the grinding, hitting, hard-worker, not the minor-league scorer he had became, becasue the Hawks don’t need one of those – they have too many players that are better at it than him. I don’t like what Jack Skille was, but I like what he became…

  8. Lou says:

    Good point whatever role that it is, regular shifts will help him.

  9. Dave Morris says:

    This just in>>>

    “Antti Niemi will get the start in goal on Wednesday night against the Vancouver Canucks. Coach Joel Quenneville announced the decision after practice on Tuesday.

    ‘He earned the opportunity,’ Quenneville said. ‘He’s played well. I think at one point in the year, the competition from behind was something we were looking for and you have stretches where you are playing well and you earn the chance to play be it for health or the way you’re going and that’s why he is playing.'”…/columns/blog?name=rogers

  10. John says:

    Dave, there’s little kids reading this site. Please don’t subject them to anything Jesse Rogers has to say.

  11. Dave Morris says:

    @John> geez, I forgot about the x-rated material on ESPNChicago. My bad.

  12. blackhawkbob says:

    In Dave’s defense, there was very little Jesse Rogers contribution in that entry. Just the way it should be, I suppose.

  13. Dave Morris says:

    @blackhawkbob> thanks for covering me on that one, bro. 😉

  14. Dave Morris says:

    Seriously gang, what happens next with Count Cristobal?

    Burke is desperate for a goalie, and the Isles are going to deal Biron to the Wings if you believe ESPN.

    Are you all tellin’ me The Bow Man’s gonna stand pat?

  15. John says:

    What happens next is probably not the answer you want to hear. They’re going to let him play out of this. If it takes until December, it’s going to take until then.

    The Hawks dumping Huet and leaving themselves essentially completely naked in goal is not something you should be hoping for.

    I’m more prone to believing Detroit is going to play this season out and see where it takes them rather than to unload their coveted late-round draft picks for a back-up goalie.

  16. Dave Morris says:

    @John> I agree that letting Huet try and play his way out of his funk is the path of least resistance…for now.

    And believe me, the thought of naked Blackhawks in goal–except for certain tasty ladies from the Ice Crew–does not run my motor.

  17. Patrick says:

    Posted this last night, but that chain went cold, so…

    I’ve got a Huet idea (although I agree with John and think he’ll work everything out so I’m not hot to move him right now, but I’ll play along) – Huet + a 1st rounder and this Greentree kid (or whatever) for Marty Turco. You’d probably have to overpay a lot and get the Stars GM (Nywendyke – whatever) drunk to pull this off, but you never know.

    Solves the Hawks Goalie situation and give cap flexibility for next year.

  18. John says:

    Proposal noted, not the craziest thing in the world, but far-fetched nonetheless.

  19. Dave Morris says:

    @Patrick> you obviously have a very low opinion of Joe Nieuwendyk as a GM.

    Seriously now. Why would Nieuwendyk make such a trade?

  20. Dave Morris says:

    PS Cristo thinks everything’s going to be OK.

    From the Tribune today, when asked if he still considers himself the No. 1 goaltender:

    “Yeah, sure. It’s not a bad goal and a weird bounce that changes the way I see the season. I’m going to rebound from that. There’s no doubt in my mind it’s just a little hole for me.”

    When further queried about the ire directed towards him at the UC, Monsieur Huet was diplomatic: “You can definitely hear some boos. It’s part of the game. They’re frustrated because I didn’t get the job done last game. Not every goal. I don’t think it’s fair. They pay for expensive tickets to see a good product. I have to do a better job.”

    Et voilà.

  21. Patrick says:

    Dave – he wouldn’t, unless her were drunk or the Hawks seriously overpaid. Really, what it comes down to, we can speculate all we want, but unless Huet starts playing better, he ain’t going anywhere. And if he does start playing better, we probably won’t want him to go anywhere. Essentially, your point all along…

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