Monday, June 2, 2014

Evaluating the Hawks Pending Free Agents

So it’s come to this, the Blackhawks season is over.  The beards are shaven (mine was awesome btw), the ice will be melted today or tomorrow, and we’re all Rangers fans now (because let’s be honest, the Sox are hovering around .500, the Fire are the second worst team in their conference, and the Cubs are still the Cubs, so there’s not much excitement in Chicago until fall comes back around).

So, whether you accepted last night’s loss with dignity and grace, or, like me, you stayed up all night beating the Kings by 60 goals in NHL 14 after modifying the settings to make them the worst they could possibly be, let’s examine the Hawks upcoming free agents and the likelihood they’ll return.
You thought I was joking, didn't you?
All figures are via, 2013-14 cap hit in parentheses)

Jeremy Morin ($886,667 RFA) I would be surprised if he resigns, given that he could probably make a few other teams’ rosters, and Q has had him shuttling between Rockford and the press box for a few years now.  I’d expect Stan Bowman to let him walk.
Ben Smith ($562,500 RFA) Ben Smith is gonna get PAIIIIDDDD, maybe he gets an offer sheet from another team, but I really hope that he comes back, he’s really matured into a solid forward.  I think he’ll come back next year, but expect him to make north of a mill.
Michal Handzus ($1,000,000) If Zeus doesn’t retire (which I would not be at all surprised if he did now, given that he’s 37, and finally won a Cup last year), he might get a 1 or 2 year deal, but probably a dock in pay.  But in all likelihood I think Sunday was his last NHL game.
Peter Regin ($750,000) Looks like Regin was just a rental.  Q had him stapled to the press box all playoffs, unless he wanted to sit Steeger instead.  Again, I would be surprised if he’s in a Blackhawks jersey come October.  Another team could certainly sign him, as there’s usually a market for centers, but the Hawks are probably going to pass.

Sheldon Brookbank ($1,250,000) Ughhhh, I like Sheldon Brookbank.  I like that he’s willing to play forward or defense just to get in the game, I like that he’s better than Roszival (who the Hawks are stuck with for another year).  I like that he seemingly has no problem with being scratched most of the time.  Unfortunately Q doesn’t like him, for whatever reason, and with other players in the system to be the 7th defenseman (David Rundblad, Adam Clendening, among others), I have the feeling he’s gone.  Too bad.

Antti Raanta ($1,400,000 RFA) Unless another team makes Raanta an offer that Bowman can’t match, I’m pretty sure that he’s still going to be with the team next year.  He certified himself as a competent backup to Crawford when Crow was injured, and posted respectable numbers starting every game for over a month.
Nikolai Khabibulin ($2,000,000) HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA no.

Pierre Marc Bouchard ($2,000,000 partially split with New York) Did you remember we traded for Pierre Marc Bouchard?  I have no idea why, but we did, and I’m fairly certain he won’t play a single game in a Blackhawks jersey.  I guess he was worth half a fourth round pick (Regin was in that trade too).
Jason Labarbera ($1,000,000) The Hawks traded for Labarbera after Crawford and Khabibulin went down, as an insurance policy in case Raanta couldn’t handle going from Rockford to starter.  Given that Raanta did handle it, and Kent Simpson is still under contract for another year, I’d expect him to be gone.
Brad Mills ($550,000) A 31 year old center who only played 3 NHL games this year, I don’t think he will be in the organization, unless Bowman thinks that we need a “veteran presence” in Rockford.

There were a few others, but none of them had played any games in Chicago, so I couldn’t make a decent evaluation.  Some may be resigned as future projects, or even make the team in training camp, who knows.
Now if you don’t mind me, I’m going to try very hard not to cry.

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