Leddy dealt; Another round of Carcillo

130107_gq_trout_aI’m a little late to the party on this one, but better late than never. On Saturday, the Blackhawks traded Nick Leddy to the New York Islanders in exchange for three prospects: T.J. Brennan, Ville Pokka, and Anders Nilsson. Both Brennan and Pokka are defensemen, while Nilsson is a goalie. This was a trade that we had all been holding our breath on for seemingly the last four months, but it finally happened. The Hawks needed to move someone off their NHL roster to get themselves under the salary cap, and that someone ended up being Nick Leddy, which wasn’t much of a surprise. The Leddy trade wasn’t the only news on Saturday, however. The Blackhawks also signed Dan Carcillo to a one-year contract, a move that has most Hawks fans scratching our heads.

Back to the Leddy trade. It appeared that one of Oduya or Leddy would end up being the player traded away to get the Hawks back under the NHL’s salary cap, and sure enough it ended up being Leddy. Leddy was first brought up to the NHL to begin the 2010-11 season, and he never left the scene. He never appeared in an AHL game prior to being brought up to the NHL, so his first few seasons with the Hawks were basically an example of learning on the job. While he did progress in certain areas each year while here in Chicago, Leddy never seemed to take that big next step towards becoming a top four, reliable NHL defenseman. Don’t get me wrong, his speed, puck moving, and offensive talents are elite for a d-man, but his ability to be an effective player in his own is what has held him back a bit. Joel Quenneville regularly sat Leddy late in close games because he simply couldn’t trust him to be on the ice during those times. That’s where Leddy has never shown much progression, and that’s a huge reason why he’s the one who got moved.

As for the players the Blackhawks received in return for Leddy, T.J. Brennan, 25, is the most valuable. Last year in the AHL he recorded 25 goals and 47 assists from the back end, and he was named the AHL’s most outstanding defenseman. Brennan has appeared in 40 NHL games in his career with the Sabres and Panthers, and he registered 4 goals and 7 assists in those 40 games. As you can tell from his numbers in the minors, Brennan is an offensive-defenseman who looks to be active in the offensive zone. I wouldn’t expect Brennan to make an appearance in the NHL this season, but you never know. He’s definitely deserving of it, but the Hawks appear to be set with Kyle Cumiskey and David Rundblad as their sixth and seventh defensemen.

940-toews-jonathan-8colNow to Carcillo. In case your memory is very limited and you have already forgotten, Carcillo was with the Hawks from 2011 to 2013 and was a part of the team that defeated Boston to win their second Cup in four years. His role ever since entering the NHL has been that of an agitator. He runs around looking to drill guys through the glass (despite his 6’0″, 200 lb. stature) and is always willing to drop the gloves. His biggest problem is taking dumb penalties and making illegal hits, something he’s been either fined or suspended for 10 times in his career. His job is basically going to be to take over at Brandon Bollig’s spot on the Hawks’ roster this year. He’s a very similar player to Bollig, only he has more skill and can play with better forwards. Still, I don’t like this move.

The Blackhawks have preached over recent years that their mission is to draft, develop, and deliver their prospects to the NHL, much like they did with Brandon Saad. Signing Dan Carcillo completely goes against that plan. When you have guys like Jeremy Morin, Teuvo Teravainen, and even Phillip Danault who look to be NHL-ready (especially Morin), why take away their potential playing time in the NHL by dressing Dan Carcillo in their place who has much less talent and is a far worse hockey player? I understand that Joel Quenneville likes to have that “enforcer” in his lineup, but at some point you just have to use your head and realize that the NHL has changed in recent years, and the role of the enforcer has all but evaporated. One of the keys to being an elite team in the NHL and to winning the Stanley Cup is having great depth on your team. Dan Carcillo is not the worst player you could have on your fourth line, but guys like Morin are better all-around hockey players who can put together more valuable minutes than Carcillo.

Unfortunately, that argument will probably never be a winning argument as long as Quenneville is in charge. He likes his enforcers, and that’s that. After all, the guy does have the third highest win total of any coach in NHL history, and he has led the Hawks to two Stanley Cups in the last five years, so he probably knows better than me. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t disagree with him on this matter.

Thanks for reading.

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Blackhawks down Wings; Trade deadline nears

165122333_slideSunday afternoon, the Blackhawks absolutely obliterated the Detroit Red Wings at the Joe Louis Arena by a final of 7-1. The Hawks are now 9-0-1 in their last 10 games in Detroit. After a tough 3-game homestand that saw the Blackhawks take just 2 of a possible 6 points, one could say that the Hawks were due for a game like this. They needed a non-stressful game too.

Rookie call-up Jeremy Morin started the scoring early in the first period by notching his third career NHL goal. Shortly after, Brandon Saad and Dave Bolland both scored to make it 3-0.

In the second period, Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad scored just seconds apart to improve their lead to 5-0 over Detroit. It was Saad’s second goal of the game, and third point of the day.

The third period saw two more Blackhawk goals; one by Bolland (his second of the game), and another by Nick Leddy. The Red Wings Cory Emmerton also scored with under a minute left in the game to break up Corey Crawford’s shutout. Crawford ended the day making 33 saves on 34 shots.

This was a good win for a still shorthanded Blackhawks team. Both Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp were once again absent from the lineup. Like I said before, the Blackhawks needed a game like this after not playing well at all in either of their last 3 games, all at home. Yes, they beat Calgary 2-0 on Tuesday, but that was not a great game for the Hawks.

This week, they will play the Predators times (twice at home, once on the road), as well as one game with the Blues at the United Center. Playing a team 3 times in such a short period always makes for some intense and physical games. Nashville has not been playing great as of late, but Pekka Rinne always has the ability to win a game on his own.

TRADE DEADLINE

With the trade deadline now just a few days away, more and more rumors are beginning to surface regarding the Blackhawks. It was reported in the Daily Herald on Sunday that the Hawks are talking with the New York Islanders about Frans Nielsen and possibly Mark Streit. Nielsen is a 28 year old center currently under contract through the 2015-2016 season. He has a cap hit of $2.5 million this year and next year, and then that increases to $3.5 million for the last 2 seasons of his contract. Mark Streit is a 35 year old defenseman in the last year of his contract.

Obviously the Hawks are looking at Nielsen because he is a center. In 35 games this year, he has registered 18 points (3G, 15A). While those numbers aren’t necessarily bad nor good, they are not the biggest thing that jumps out at me when analyzing this potential acquisition. He is 45.2% at the faceoff circle, and that is what catches my eye. The Blackhawks desperately need a number 2 center who can consistently win faceoffs (Dave Bolland is not the guy). A guy who wins 45% of his draws is not really a “good” faceoff man, which is why I am a bit confused as to why the Hawks are targeting Nielsen.

As for Mark Streit, I don’t really understand this one either. Streit is listed as being 5’11” and weighs 191 lbs. Bottom line, he is not a big dude. While he does have a history of producing a good amount of points (47 last year), I don’t think those attributes will help the Blackhawks. The Hawks need a big, physical, defensive defensman. Not a small offensive defenseman. It is odd that this is even up for discussion considering how well the Hawks’ D-men were playing just a month ago, but things have changed lately.

Johnny Oduya was a -8 over his last 4 games heading into today, and according to Tim Sassone of the Daily Herald, the Blackhawks front office does not feel confident with Oduya as the number 4 defenseman heading into the playoffs. Hence the reason they might be looking at Mark Streit.

If I were Stan Bowman, I would not make either of those deals with the Islanders. Instead, I would focus on guys like Brian Boyle of the Rangers (center), Derek Roy of the Stars (center), and maybe a guy like Lars Eller of the Canadiens (center). I have seen those names linked to the Hawks in more than one place on the internet, as well as on TV.

Boyle_B_0123_Ins1Brian Boyle would be a nice fit with the Hawks I think. He is 6’7″, 244 lbs, and has a faceoff percentage of 57.8% this year as the Rangers number 3 centerman. His numbers (1G, 1A) are not great, but no one on the Rangers is playing that well this year. A change in scenery and line mates may be what Boyle needs. The Hawks could really use is faceoff skills as well as his size in what is one of the lightest lineups in the league, weight-wise.

NHL: Phoenix Coyotes at Dallas StarsDerek Roy is more of a skilled center than Boyle. While Roy has won just 46.8% of his faceoffs, he provides more of a true number 2 center’s skill-set. This year, he has 22 points in 29 games (4G, 18A). However, in the 2007-2008 season, Roy recorded 81 points (32G, 49A), and in the ’08-’09 season he recorded 70 points (28G, 42A). I’m not saying that he would return to putting up those numbers with the Hawks, but playing on a line with Kane and Sharp wouldn’t hurt…

Lars Eller is another center that the Hawks could ask about. He is 6’2″ and weighs 209 lbs. This season he has 17 points (4G, 13A) in 32 games and has won 49% of his faceoffs. Ideally, you’d want a guy who wins over 50%, but 49% isn’t bad (nor great). I feel like Eller is more of a true number 3 center (like Bolland), but he could be useful in the Hawks lineup. Again, they need anyone who can consistently win faceoffs.

As for the Blackhawks’ potential need on defense, I am really not sure what they might do there. They are already carrying 7 defenseman on their current roster, and they have played pretty well as a unit most of the season. Oduya has shown some signs that he can be a very good defenseman in this league, but he has also shown the opposite as of late and in last year’s playoffs. I can understand the management’s concerns about him moving forward, but I don’t know what they think they can do to upgrade. I guess we’ll have to wait and see on that one.

Keep checking back throughout the week for updates on possible trades that may take place.

Thanks for reading.