And just like that, we’ve returned…..for now.
The Blackhawks draft was the most eventful it has been in perhaps the team’s storied history. Before the draft started, it was reported that the Hawks had traded Brian Campbell to Columbus. That went to be unfounded as Columbus immediately denied it. Then Troy Brouwer was supposedly sent to Ottawa. That was also unfounded.
Eventually both would become former Hawks.
Brouwer was dealt first, this time to the Washington Capitals for the 26th pick overall. Not bad for a guy originally drafted in the 7th round and was thought to not have the skating ability to be an everyday player. It should not have come as a huge surprise that Brouwer was on the block. Due for almost a million dollar raise, the Hawks simply didn’t have the ability to spend that kind of money on a guy they couldn’t find a consistent spot for.
To me (and perhaps as short-sighted as this may be), Troy Brouwer’s time with the Hawks peaked on January 28th, 2010. He scored two goals against San Jose in a 4-3 overtime win including the game-winner when he dangled the Sharks defenseman and roofed a shot over Evegeni Nabokov. After that, it was a lot of empty promises and 4th line relegations.
There’s probably a pretty good chance Brouwer becomes Rene Bourque part II but his role in Chicago was already solidified and whatever success he enjoys in Washington simply wasn’t going to happen here.
The Hawks took Mark McNeil with the 18th pick. A center who played with the Prince Albert Raiders last year, McNeil was hailed from all corners for his physical maturity. No word on whether his hairline plays a part in that evaluation.
With the 26th pick, the Hawks selected Patrick Danault from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The best thing the TSN crew could say about him was he lost a bunch of teeth because he ran into the cross-bar. A cynical person would say he should probably learn how to stop then he’d still have his teeth. Either way, the Hawks have had minimal success with any draft pick from the “Q” so it’s probably best if expectations aren’t set too high for him.
For an encore, Stan Bowman and Dale Tallon exchanged bad contracts to set the NHL world ablaze. Well not really, but the long awaited day for the Hawks to get out from Brian Campbell’s contract came to fruition when Campbell agreed to accept a trade to the Florida Panthers. In return, the Hawks get another bad (but not as expensive as Campbell’s) contract in Rostislav Olesz. Olesz has a $3.125 cap hit through the end of the 2013-2014 season. He’s had a mostly underwhelming career in Florida with his best season coming in 2009-2010 when he notched 14 goals and 15 assists in 78 games. Incidentally, this was also the only season where Olesz stayed mostly injury free.
As for Brian Campbell, the Hawks say goodbye to his contract and also a luxury that most teams didn’t enjoy. That is, having a third/fourth defenseman with elite offensive talent. Having Campbell and Keith on two seperate defensive pairs played a huge part in the Hawks success for the past three years. Now, they’ll have to either A) adjust the way their bottom four defensive partners play or B) find someone else to take on Campbell’s role. It’s not going to be a simple solution either way.
It doesn’t make much sense to dissect this move any more deeply because whatever else the Hawks have in store won’t be revealed for another week or so. So trying to figure out who plays where and with whom is kind of a waste of time.
As it stands now, the Hawks have just over $14 million in cap space with 16 players (15 if you’re not counting on Marcus Kruger and it’s also counting Olesz who won’t be promised anything) on their roster. Michael Frolik and Chris Campoli are probably the biggest restricted free agent priorities on Stan Bowman’s plate. Both will receive raises from their contracts last year. After that, it will be Stan’s team to design.