Fourth of July vacation was great, and in the summer heat perhaps it's a sign that we are supposed to be forgetting about hockey for the time being.
I wish any of that statement were true in my world.
Every day, it's checking rumors, free agent trackers or any buzz bringing hope that the Chicago Blackhawks' offseason will become more interesting at some point.
Thus far, let's face it: it's been a drag. Stan Bowman and company could not lure in either Ryan Suter or Zach Parise and the only modest improvement they have made to their current roster—other than extending Johnny Oduya—is signing Sheldon Brookbank.
Brookbank will provide depth, but unless Bowman does something else more significant this summer, the 'Hawks are looking at another first round exit in 2012-13.
Here's the first tip on trade rumors: don't believe everything you hear. Three or four days ago people were consumed with the idea of Roberto Luongo coming to the Windy City. Whether you like the idea or not, the odds are incredibly slim that Luongo will get dealt to Chicago.
Bowman will want to get rid of a salary like Michael Frolik's or even (gulp) Rostislav Olesz's contract. Not happening. In taking on a contract the size of Luongo's current deal and doing business with one of the 'Hawks' biggest enemies, you do not want to give them a current asset in return. My guess is that is what Canucks general manager Mike Gillis is asking for in return—and that may not happen with many clubs.
Gillis is not in a negotiating spot that he wants to be in right now. After extending Corey Schneider and with Luongo's current desire to leave, the cards are stacked against Gillis to win in this trade with anybody. The sooner he realizes that he cannot make huge demands while negotiating this thing, the sooner he ships "Bobby Lou" out of town.
For those reasons, if and when Luongo gets traded, I would doubt that it will happen before August.
And it more than likely will not be to Chicago.
We keep hearing Niklas Hjalmarsson's name in trade rumors, some credible and some not. The same can be said for Patrick Kane. While it's still early July and no deal should be counted out, I still believe that No. 4 could be on the move but No. 88 stays. Unless of course they are packaged together.
After Stan missed out on Parise, Suter and Martin Brodeur, he still will want to mix things up. Given the current makeup of the 'Hawks roster I would consider offers for Nick Leddy and Viktor Stalberg as well. No player outside of the core group should be untouchable. You could get a lot in return for either of those two, and Nick Leddy's development as a player has not been what the 'Hawks have hoped for.
There is also the case that Hjalmarsson stays and the 'Hawks run with their current D-unit as is. Having a top six of Seabrook, Keith, Hjalmarsson, Oduya, Brookbank and Leddy is not bad in the least.
Unfortunately with trades, a lot of times they come out of the blue and you hear about them the day of. Remember, rumors are just that...rumors.
On Monday, Chicago Tribune reporter, Chris Kuc, tweeted that the 'Hawks and unrestricted free agent Shane Doan have a mutual interest in one another's services (https://twitter.com/ChrisKuc).
Hopefully something will come of that. Though 35, 'Hawks fans saw firsthand in April what Shane Doan is capable of doing, and he would provide a lot of what the 'Hawks lack up front.
The size and length of the contract is another thing. Who knows what his demands will be, and at 35, his play is bound to decline at some point. Doan is coming off of a contract that paid him $4.5 million per season, and he could be looking for a 3-4 year, $5 million per year dollar deal.
Would you take that chance? It's interesting to think about, but at this point I would pull the trigger.
At the center position, we may see a depth signing of the likes of Dominic Moore (yawn) or someone similar, but that second line center need will have to come via trade.
My guess here is that Bowman will state that he is happy with Kane as the second line center and press on, which is a shame. I love Kaner, but he belongs on the wing. If the 'Hawks think he is their solution in the middle, they are kidding themselves.
The Stan Bowman Watch
Right now, all eyes are on Stan Bowman and with good reason. We want to see if he can and will improve the 'Hawks, who definitely need tweaking. The other reason is that if not much happens between now and training camp, it may be time to think about a new general manager for this team.
Just throwing it out there, but since the first-time GM Bowman inherited a Stanley Cup contender, his roster moves have not had a major impact on this club. As of right now, that's the bottom line.
It's been very difficult not to be frustrated with how the offseason has gone thus far. There is still time, but there are holes to fill—and a lot of them—if the 'Hawks plan to contend next season. Should this not happen, and the 'Hawks have another first round exit or worse, then it will very much reflect that the team has a general manager that is not exactly sure what he's doing.
Here's hoping that the latter will not be the case.
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