Hawks finding the right fit
This past week Hawks GM Stan Bowman was a busy man. He was signing players left and right which, I’m sure some Hawk fans are happy about and others are not. You can’t please everyone. In any event the Blackhawks are sure active this off season and it appears are gearing up for something. This week the Hawks inked two returning veterans in Jamal Mayers RW/C and Johnny Oduya D which I think were solid returns.
Jamal Mayers was signed to a one year deal for approximately $600,000. Like I mentioned in a previous blog this signing is a little surprising because Mayers sat on the bench for most of the playoffs. Still Mayers brings veteran experience and grit that the Hawks are so desperately looking for. CongratulationsJamal on another year in our fair city.
Johnny Oduya was also signed for a little less than what he was previously making. He signed a three year deal for $3.38M per year. This signing had some Hawks fans very happy and left others a bit disappointed. I think these fans felt with this signing it took the Hawks out of the Ryan Suter sweepstakes which I’m not sure the Blackhawks had a real shot at anyway. The interesting thing about this deal I believe is that there is some type of modified no trade clause in this contract so it looks like Oduya will be paired on the second defensive unit with either Leddy or Hjalmarsson.
Oduya's critics cited him being taken to task in the corners by the Phoenix Coyotes. Oduya was solid in the regular season and there is no question he had a steadying influence on young Leddy. While I’m sure he would admit his playoff run could have been better let us not forget Oduya has not had much recent playoff experience and has not been to the playoffs since 2008 when he was with the NJ Devils. Now that Oduya got a taste of what the playoffs are like I think he will be better prepared this year. He has great puck moving skills which the Hawks can use. Congrats Johnny looking forward to seeing you defending that blue line next year at the UC.
The Blackhawks said that these signings were all about fitting in and complementing the players that they already have in place. Bowman also was not finished he signed five prospects to 3 year entry level deals. Two Goalies, Mac Carruth and Kent Simpson were signed along with Center Joakim Nordstrom and two defensemen, Adam Clendening and Klas Kahlbeck from Sweden. Their stats can be seen on the Blackhawks website. Congratulation boys and welcome to the Hawk's family.
With arrivals there also come some departures. Two Hawk prospects that were within their system were not signed and thus their rights were relinquished Mirko Hoefflin C from Germany and Ludvig Rensfeldt LW from Sweden. They will now reenter the draft and can be picked up by another team.
There still remains a number of UFA that Stan Bowman has yet to sign Andrew Brunette, Cristobal Huet, Sam Lepisto, Brendan Morrison & Sean O’Donnell. Outside of perhaps Lepisto I do not see any of these returning. Lepistos status is sketchy at best since he spent a large portion of the year on the bench it safe to say he is not a Coach Q favorite. Cristobal Huet’s departure will be huge in terms of freed cap space since he was under a monster contract.
With all of these signings, it should not go unnoticed that as of right now the Hawks are over their cap limits for next year unless there is an increase with the new CBA. What does this mean? Well some of these signings will most likely either go to Rockford or be used in trades. Bowman is not stockpiling prospects for no reason that's for sure. Stay tune as soon as we hear anything you will be kept posted.
Also congratulations to Hawks prospect Alex Broadhurst for being named to the first squad of the 2011-12 USHL (United States Hockey League). This was voted on by the leagues coaches and GM's. Alex played for the Green Bay Gamblers
Also there is still a coaching position or two open behind the Hawks bench for assistant coaches. It appears the Hawks are in no hurry either to fill these positions which, is probably smart. It is more important to get this right rather than rush into it. Anyone applying for these positions, a word of advice have multiple plans for special teams and how to fix them.
Finally, Bowman also stated during his presser that defenseman Steve Montador is on the mend.but his status like Hossa's is a wait and see thing and that they were hopeful both would be back in September. Amen to that.