After two listless games against Los Angeles and Anaheim following a piss-poor third period against Dallas, the Hawks are in desperate need of one, if not two defensemen that can handle the burden of a 2nd defensive pairing. Good thing for them the trade deadline is tomorrow and teams are going to be quite aggressive to move some pieces around.
If this latest slide has shown us anything, it’s that having a third of your defensive corps being under the legal drinking age and having them log big minutes is not a recipe for long-term success. I would love to know if any team in the modern era has won a Stanley Cup with two defensemen as green as Dylan Olsen and Nick Leddy. Perhaps someone out there knows the answer. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of anybody. (And yes, I know Leddy has played a significant amount of games at the NHL level, but as the old adage says, you can’t really judge a defensemen until after 200 professional games so he still has some time to go.)
However, if the Hawks are in it for this year (and we have no reason to doubt they aren’t), then something has to give. If they are quietly ‘rebuilding’ on the fly, then they’d be better off to just keep throwing Olsen and Leddy out there while holding on to whatever the demands are for a rental defensemen.
While I’m at it, I guess the newest thing to do is blame Stan Bowman for all that plagues the Hawks these days. Last year as most probably recall, I had no problem taking the blow torch to him. This year, I find it hard to blame a guy for putting a team together that was first in the conference 50 games into the season.
I would have gone head over heels if he signed Joel Ward, Max Talbot, and Ville Leino last summer. But $12 million for four years is a lot for a guy putting up Bryan Bickell numbers, five years is three too many for Talbot, and Leino is signed through the next millenia and he blows.
So instead, Bowman stowed away the cap space and flexibility to manuever around the trade deadline, something he’s never really had the option of doing. It wasn’t the worst idea a Hawks general manager has ever had. And it certainly didn’t look that bad a few weeks ago.
Of course, if he does nothing with the cap space, then he’s going to catch quite the shrapnel of criticism. If he makes a trade and the guy isn’t instantly the spawn of Bobby Orr and Denis Potvin, he’ll likely catch just as much criticism. He’s basically put himself in the situation where anything less than a triple and the cat-calls will only become louder. It hasn’t helped that his team has gone completely in the toilet at the absolute worst time. Not to mention, his team has lost in regulation to three consectutive teams who could have turned into motivated sellers with a loss.
Either way, at 2:30 Monday afternoon we’ll have a much better idea of how to gauge our expectations for the rest of the season.
–Quick side note, Second City Hockey is having a live chat up through the deadline. I should be in and out of there throughout the day so feel free to check it out.