The Dream Is Dead

Ilya Kovalchuk is now a member of the New Jersey Devils.  After months of squabbling with ridiculous contract terms (he was in the ballpark of 10-year, $100 million), the Thrashers finally figured out Kovalchuk wanted no part of staying in Atlanta.  In return, the Devils sent rookie Niclas Bergfors, defenseman Johnny Oduya, prospect Patrice Cormier, and a 1st round pick this summer.  The Devils also received Anssi Salmela in the deal.

Of particular interest in the trade is Patrice Cormier.  He was suspended for the remainder of the season by the QMJHL for this hit.  Cormier also threw a wicked elbow in the World Juniors against Sweden.  That didn’t garner nearly as much interest as no one nearly died because of it.

Anyways, when the ruling from the QMJHL came down, Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello promised Cormier would sit for the rest of the season even though he easily could have placed him on their AHL affiliate, the Lowell Devils roster.  Well, Atlanta general manager Don Waddell has made no such promise so there’s a decent possibility Cormier could suit up for the Chicago Wolves.  Only time will tell on that, though.

Just for fun, let’s take a closer look at the package New Jersey sent over for Kovalchuk and see how it matches up with what the Hawks could have offered.

  • Johnny Oduya–  Oduya was a legitimate top-4 defenseman on one of the best defensive teams in the NHL.  He’s having a bit of a down season after signing a contract extension in the summer.  While people would be quick to offer up Cam Barker, I just don’t see why Atlanta would’ve accepted anything less than Ham Sandwich here.
  • Niclas Bergfors–  After opening up the season with 27 points in 41 games, Bergfors has been unable to notch a point in his last 13 games.  He’s playing on his rookie contract and up for restricted free agency in the summer.  Kris Versteeg would probably be the guy Atlanta would’ve wanted in this spot.
  • Patrice Cormier–  Atlanta wasn’t in the market for a defenseman so Shawn Lalonde would’ve been out here.  That leaves a collection of wingers including Kyle Beach, Akim Aliu, and Billy Sweatt (though I’m not entirely sure if NCAA players can have their rights traded.  Anyone who knows the answer, please feel free to share).
  • 1st round pick–  The Hawks pick looks like it will be right around New Jersey’s so that matches up fairly well. 

With all that, it looks it would have taken a package of Ham Sandwich, Versteeg, prospect winger du jour, and a 1st round pick.  I’m sure some will disagree and say Cam Barker could’ve gotten it done, but I’m just not buying it.  Atlanta wanted a legit top-4 defenseman so Ham Sandwich it would’ve been. 

Do you make that trade?  Keep in mind, you’re also getting a fairly young depth defenseman back from Atlanta.  I suppose if you put a gun to my head, I’d turn down that deal too.  The Hawks will have until March and/or all summer to get a decent return on Versteeg.  Ham Sandwich has the look of a legitimate top-2 defenseman – not to mention, if he gets shipped, Cam Barker or Brent Sopel become your 4th defenseman for the rest of this season.  Just right there, that seems like an awful lot to give up on a player the Hawks would only have for three months. 

Then, you throw in the prospect and 1st round pick and all of a sudden, the Hawks would be shrinking their Stanley Cup window to the size of a shattered piece of plexiglass.

No thanks, even if it is for a player like Kovalchuk.

–With Dave Bolland now back in the fold for good, we got our first look at what the lines may look like on Friday night.  The Toews line remains the same; Bolland takes Sharp spot at the pivot on the second line; Sharp takes Madden’s spot on the third line, and Madden moves down to the fourth line.

Now before anyone goes ‘Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome’ about Madden moving down to the fourth line, let’s look at what he does well:

  • Hellacious back-checker
  • Solid face-off man
  • Good penalty killer

At this stage of the season, that’s all Madden really gives the Hawks.  Of course, it didn’t exactly help/hurt his causes when his best shifts on Wednesday came when he skated with Eager and Kopecky.  The move, however, is quite an indictment by Joel Quenneville.  With unlimited roster options upon Bolland’s return, he chose to keep his wingers intact and shuffle around his centers, one of whom wasn’t even playing the position at the outset of the season.  Bet you didn’t see that one coming.   

I wouldn’t get too shook up about it, though; it will probably take two lackluster shifts before Quenneville jumbles everything up all over again.

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22 Responses to The Dream Is Dead

  1. Lee Rosenberg says:

    Dave and Lou:

    Lee left you a message in the Blues/Blackhawks blog

  2. Dave Morris says:

    Mr Rosenberg, one of the unwritten rules here is that we never look back.

    @The FeatherMen: I for one am happy that StanBow’s good sense prevailed and that The Sandwich remains Committed To The Indian.

    This allows the segment of the fanbase that wishes to see Les Hawques chase Special K in June, to let their imaginations run free.

    Freedom is a beautiful thing.

    Now, if the impasse with Georges Laraque can be resolved, all will be well in Chicago.

  3. Lou says:

    @Lee Behn Wilson has started a commune with Willie Plett in lower Saskatchewan. The raise alpacas and weave their own clothing

    As for a trade, yes Kovy would have added a new dimension and that is not a bad thing but prudence here is not a bad thing. As we look forward, we might get more assets when we move some guys for the salary reasons.

    And don’t forget their remains some interesting scuttlebutt about the prusuit of the Canadian Olympic team captain, Senor Niedermayer. I can only imagine reverting to the old Animal House line and have the third balcony shout out Niedermayer….

  4. Dave Morris says:

    Lou> watch your behind with all that scuttlebutt.

  5. CT says:

    ” With unlimited roster options upon Bolland’s return, he chose to keep his wingers intact and shuffle around his centers, one of whom wasn’t even playing the position at the outset of the season. Bet you didn’t see that one coming.”

    You know, 2 months ago I would have been surprised. But Sharp’s been so damn good at center this year, I was wondering if Q could justify putting him back at wing, even upon Bolland’s return.

    My biggest worry is now that Bolland’s back is that Q decides to start screwing around with the point again on the PP. He’s played both Sharp and Bolland there in past, and I fear he’s going to be tempted again now that he’s got more options for centering the second unit.

  6. dominator says:

    I actually like the proposed lines, the team has the talent to roll three scoring lines so why shouldn’t they? I think Sharp proved this year that he doesn’t belong on the point and Bolland last year wasn’t anything to write home about so I really hope Q doesn’t go that direction again.

  7. Mark Giangreco Roman Wrestler says:

    I thought the Ladd-Madden combo was the balls earlier this year as a checking unit. Don’t know why Q wouldn’t go to that again. These new lines offer nothing for creative nicknames.

    No reason to trade all of those parts for a rental when you can make trades for picks/young talent that can complement “The Core” for years to come.

  8. feyer says:

    Great article John. NCAA players can have their rights traded. Case in point when the Caps traded rights to Naperville native and current Notre Dame player Ted Ruth for Sergei Fedorov.

    I envision Ham Sandwich having a long productive career with the Hawks, so I will rest better when the trade deadline passes and he is still wearing the indianhead.

  9. Lee Rosenberg says:

    Lou and Dave:

    Do you know where I can reach Eddie Shack if Plett and Wilson are unavailable?

  10. John says:

    Ah yes, thanks feyer.

  11. Dave Morris says:

    @Lee Rosenberg> try this address:

    Eddie Shack Donuts, 18372 Hurontario St, Caledon, ON L7K 0Y4.

    Sorry, don’t have the phone number.

  12. Lee Rosenberg says:

    OMG, your really serious!

  13. Dave Morris says:

    John, Bob>One of the reasons the Hawks passed on Special K might have been because Ilya and Hossa did NOT, contrary to popular assumption, have “chemistry” while in Atlanta.

    Bob Hartley, who coached them at the time–and who is as straightforward as you’ll ever get–said recently in his RDS column that the two were less than compatible when they were teammates.

    No sense in upsetting the balance the Hawks have with Hossa.

    Whatever Kovalchuk might add in the short term to a team, an experienced, disciplined group like the Devils, with a Championship pedigree that is still fresh, is probably best equipped to integrate a fiery talent like Special K.

  14. Otter says:

    Wouldn’t the Hawks put Kovalchuk at left wing with Toews and Kane? Just because he’s European doesn’t mean he has to play with Europeans… It would have been fun to get Kovalchuk, but since resigning him was unlikely (impossible?) it was probably the right move not to go out and get him. But I still wanted him in a totally non-sexual way.

    IN OTHER thoughts… what was more shocking in Simmons’ e-mails from readers about tortured franchises yesterday… that someone took the time to make the case for the Hawks or there was a Tragically Hip reference?

  15. John says:

    I enjoyed the three White Sox fans who emailed him to inform that Cubs fans weren’t, in fact, tortured. Thanks for not feeding into the stereotypes, boys.

  16. Otter says:

    As a Sox fan, I enjoyed that part… there are two types of Cub fans:
    1) Those from the North Side and grew up with the Cubs and care.
    2) The “I grew up in Ohio/Michigan/Iowa/Wisconsin rooting for the Reds/Indians/Tigers/Brewers but now that I graduate from ______ in the Big Ten and moved to Chicago, I now root for the Cubs and go to the games and act like an idiot” fan.

    Fan #2 is also all of a sudden a Blackhawks fan.

  17. Lou says:

    @Otter, there are universities outside of the Big Ten? Ssurely you jest. Tis no place better on a fall Saturday than a Big Ten game or at a bar watching Michigan’s slide while wearing your Big Ten pride.

    My continent for a game in whcih we beat a frigging back up goalie. This is getting just stupid. Adrian Aucion you have got to be f-ing kidding me.

  18. Nick says:

    Being a Sox fan, I got a pretty hearty chortle out of those emails. But I thought the guy that tried to make a case for the hawks was way out of touch. Has he actually seen this team play? Aside from this particular craptacular stretch?

    No way the hawks are as tortured as any Cleveland franchise. Man alive, am I glad I wasn’t raised a fan in that area, and they get the mighty Bleu Jacquettes as well.

  19. John says:

    Yeah, they were pretty entertaining; I just don’t know if there’s any other fanbase that would make a point to write to Simmons that another team he wrote about wasn’t tortured. Guess that’s part of our charm.

    I’ve had minimal contact with out-of-state people who adopt the Cubs so I can’t really speak for them (although I’m sure they’re huge douches), but I will tell you anyone who doesn’t think Cub fans are tortured should attend a family event of mine.

    The majority of my uncles and one aunt have weathered the storm of a thousand tornadoes. At this point, they don’t even have a reaction when something bad happens. Just like they were expecting it the whole time. It’s really quite sad. How does that make watching sports fun?

  20. Lee Rosenberg says:

    For 50 years I have bled Cubbie Blue, Bears Orange, and Hawks Red. I really thought this was the Hawks year but after last night I am convinced that with Huet in goal there will be no cup. He is not the worst or the best but he is not good enough to be carried with the defence the Hawks have now

  21. John says:

    This coming after a game when he gave up ONE goal. Spare me the hyperbole Lee.

  22. Lee Rosenberg says:

    John:

    No way I can spare you the hyperbole. The one goal you talk out about was off his hand and a much lesser goalie would have stopped. To follow that up he was just brutal in the shootout. Yes I know you will say that Kaner and Hossa should have scored but that just did not happen this time to rescue him!

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