The Chicago Blackhawks fan convention is this weekend, and there should be more questions than answers.
At this point of the offseason, one would hope that the Hawks would have plugged some leaking holes in their roster and be able to present a better package this weekend. That's not the case. The team is not vastly improved from last year; and if nothing changes in the next month or so, they could very well be an eight seed again come playoff time.
So here's a quick look at some of my questions and the truth behind them.
Are we supposed to be excited about Stan Bowman's blockbuster signing of Sheldon Brookbank?
To this point that's it. As far as new players, Sheldon Brookbank is what we've got. Don't get me wrong, he is a solid defenseman that will help. He's tough and plays well in his own zone. But he will not be much of a factor in the wins and losses column.
Other than Brookbank, Jamal Mayers is coming back. Great guy, but someone who desperately needed home after being a healthy scratch during the playoffs.
You can say the same for Daniel Carcillo. He was just as shocked as some of the fans were that the Hawks rewarded his season-ending knee injury/suspension with an extension. Welcome back Danny, you are one brain-cramp away from a Raffi Torres-like suspension. That will help a ton.
Johnny Oduya is a good signing if you are able to move another blue-liner like Niklas Hjalmarsson or Nick Leddy for actual needs; and as each day passes, the more unlikely that seems.
So Brookbank is the new free agent acquisition that is arriving on the scene with a bullet.
Is trying out Brandon Saad at center an act of desperation?
He's another gifted winger that the Hawks are trying out at center. But hey, according to Stan it was Saad's idea. Here we go again; our embattled general manager making excuses and trying to create a center instead of addressing an actual need.
I like Saad. I think he could be a great player, but he is a kid and somewhat of a default promotion because the Hawks have not gotten it done in the offseason. Whether Saad is truly ready for the NHL or not, is too be determined. He will by no means be a slam-dunk star next year. He would not have been a second rounder if he was.
And you have Bowman letting Saad take the mic at the draft and selling him to the Chicago public in an effort to disclose his front-office shortcomings.
Good luck Brandon, the pressure is on you now.
Do you guys have any faith whatsoever in Corey Crawford?
I don't think they do have faith in Crawford, but this one I do not blame on the Hawks offseason moves or lack thereof. I honestly originally thought the Hawks got a steal when they signed Crawford to a three-year extension last summer. It seemed like a bargain at the time, but unfortunately, Crawford did not show the same form last season that he had in the 2011 postseason.
The goalie market via free agency or trade is not desirable. Mike Gillis of the Vancouver Canucks believes he has leverage when trying to deal Roberto Luongo which he does not; and if Luongo is to move, it's not likely it will be to the Windy City.
So Crawford is a huge risk for next season, but count on the Hawks rolling with him as the option in net.
Are we going to talk about prospects all the time, or can we get some proven NHL talent here?
If you want to win in the NHL, you need proven players and not a farm system of "maybes." Prospect camp was great, but when you have players like Toews, Kane, Sharp, Hossa, Keith and Seabrook still in the prime of their careers; and you sell off proven players to get prospects, you are wasting years.
Look at what Dale Tallon did via free agency in 2008 and 2009. He acquired players like Brian Campbell, Marian Hossa, John Madden and Tomas Kopecky—guys who played the game at a very high level and had played deep into the postseason.
Bowman had to get rid of cap room in 2010, and that is not on him. But last offseason he dumped Brouwer for a pick, rid himself of a great defenseman in Brian Campbell and acquired a worse salary headache in Rostislav Olesz. Olesz may never play another game in the NHL. Then he prioritized Micahel Frolik, who gave us five goals on 117 shots last season.
A center, a power-winger and a goalie are still needs. Where are the NHL level players? I love the prospect, truly I do, but I want to win games in 2012-13.
Mr. Bowman, are you concerned about your job security?
Unless they make a pick-up somewhere or make a trade, the Hawks will look very similar to last season, and another first round exit may be in the cards.
Bowman couldn't land the likes of Ryan Suter or Zach Parise. He tried and couldn't do it. They didn't want to come to Chicago. Shane Doan is waiting for the Coyotes to figure it out; and when they do, he'll stay in the desert. Bowman balked at every trade offer at the draft, and now we're stuck.
Who is pulling the reigns, McDonough, Wirtz or is this a GM that, quite frankly, is not good at his job?
The clock is ticking on Bowman, and at this rate, there should be a new GM in Chicago this time next year.
Thanks for reading.