In another strange turn through the Hawks title defense tour, they managed to turn one of their more important games of the season into an afterthought. About an hour before their tilt against the Edmonton Oilers, they announced the trade of Jack Skille, Hugh Jessiman, and David Pacan to the Florida Panthers for Michael Frolik and Alexander Salak.
Salak was one of the numerous goaltending prospects in the Panther organization. He’s currently playing in the Swedish Elite League. Last year, he played in the AHL with the Rochester Americans and had a 91% save percentage with 2.89 Goals against. He’s in the final year of a two year contract with a $1.3 million cap hit and is a restricted free agent in the summer.
With Alec Richards still a fairly large project and Hannu Toivonen being Hannu Toivonen, Salak immediately becomes the top goalie prospect within the Hawks system. Within Florida’s system, he was the odd man out after Jakub Markstrom was deemed the heir apparent so he was shipped off to Sweden this year and now his rights belong to Chicago.
As per usual, it’s important to remember here that goalies are incredibly unpredictable and just because Florida gave up on him, that doesn’t mean he’s garbage. And considering the price that was paid for him and just how pathetic their goalies prospects were before tonight, it’s a decent gamble for the Hawks to make.
The other piece coming is two-time 20 goal scorer, 22-year old Michael Frolik. The former 10th overall pick of the 2006 draft is here for the present. Playing in the final year of his rookie contract, Stan Bowman has already said he considers Frolik to be here for the long-term. Let’s just wait and see on that.
Frolik has played center and wing in his career. Unfortunately, he hasn’t played any center at all this year. Fortunately, the Hawks are so desperately thin at center that it shouldn’t matter. What Frolik does, though, is he should bring stability to a Hawks lineup that needs it really bad.
The first thing Joel Quenneville should do tomorrow is pencil Frolik in as his second center for the remainder of this year. Let him play with Marian Hossa (assuming he’s not dead) and whomever else, Troy Brouwer, Tomas Kopecky, etc, and be done with it. Put Patrick Sharp on the wing, play him with Kane and Toews, let them streak for awhile. No more Tomas Kopecky or Patrick Sharp at center.
(Of course, that’s not going to happen. Joel Quenneville already said in his post-game comments that Frolik can play all three forward positions and he likes his versatility. So he’ll likely be bouncing all over the place.)
Frolik will also bring a little more skill on the second power play unit. Before tonight, it was Dave Bolland, Troy Brouwer, and Tomas Kopecky or Bryan Bickell. Gross.
This has been Frolik’s worst year in the pros after two straight seasons of 20+ goals and 20+ assists. With only 8 goals, he fell out of favor in Florida this year and was recently relegated to the 4th line. The Hawks have to be hoping a change of scenery will kickstart his season. Otherwise, they’ve simply taken somebody else’s trash. It is a little worrisome that Florida would let someone like Frolik go without much prying. Again though, when considering what they gave up and where they were prior, it’s a gamble worth taking.
As for what the Hawks gave up, it wasn’t a whole lot. It’s comical to see Comcast Sportsnet having Hugh Jessiman listed as a prospect. He hasn’t been a prospect since Sidney Crosby was drafted. Jack Skille was a lost cause on this Hawks roster. He wasn’t responsible enough to play important minutes and he wasn’t skilled enough to get a prolonged chance with a top line. It just never was going to work with Joel Quenneville. David Pacan is still a fairly large project. The 2009 6th round pick was kicked off the University of Vermont’s team at the beginning of the year for disciplinary reasons and played for the Niagara IceDogs of the OHL.
So it’s not like anyone will be pining for these three when things go sour for the Hawks.
Some other important aspects of the trade that should be discussed:
- The inclusion of Hugh Jessiman opens up a spot (finally) on the Hawks 50 man roster. It also puts Rockford under the veteran limit. Which leads to:
- It gives the ability to make a trade without giving up anyone on the Hawks current roster. Their countless 2nd and 3rd round picks are suddenly in play. Not to mention, they can also ship someone like, say Nick Boynton, to Rockford to open a little bit more cap space. Which leads to:
- As it currently sits, according to CapGeek, the Hawks can acquire someone with a max cap hit of about $855,000. That should be more than enough for the 5th or 6th defensemen they so badly need.
While the Hawks easily received the two best players in this trade and it looks pretty terrific on paper, it should also be noted Stan Bowman had to get himself out of the mess he created. He was the one who signed Garnet Exelby, Nick Boynton, Ryan Potulny, and Ryan Johnson and pinned himself down with the 50 man roster and the AHL veteran maximum. He just so happened to get lucky enough to find someone who was willing to help him out.
So the Hawks sit at 2-2 on the road trip now. They’re getting some offensive reinforcements in Frolik; a defenseman can’t be too far off at this point, and that’s probably going to be the roster the Hawks go with down the stretch. The gritty forward people want them to acquire may have to come from within because unless someone else gets moved off this roster, they’re not going to have the cap space for anything more.
Oh yeah, and the Hawks beat a miserable Edmonton team tonight.