Around the League – Playoff Edition – Wk 7

The most entertaining playoffs in recent memory wrapped up last night with the Chicago Blackhawks ending the longest active Stanley Cup drought with an exciting 4-3 OT victory. Now that the Hawks hoisted the Cup for the first time in 49 years, teams will undoubtedly try to mirror what the Hawks did to succeed. But is that possible?

Let’s breakdown the 22 skaters and two goalies who played for the Hawks during their championship run.

Antti Niemi: Signed as a free agent summer of 2008. He signed another one-year deal on June 30th, 2009.

Cristobal Huet: Signed a four-year, $22.4 million deal July 1st, 2008. He’s played a grand total of 150 playoff minutes the past two seasons, while earning $11.2 million the past two seasons.

Duncan Keith: Drafted 54th overall in 2002. After being drafted he spent one year in the WHL, two in the AHL and then he broke in with the Hawks in 2005/2006.

Brent Seabrook: Drafted 14th overall in 2003. He played two more years in junior before breaking in with the Hawks in 2005/2006.

Brian Campbell: Signed a mind-boggling eight-year, $57 million deal on July 1st, 2008. In seven NHL seasons he has scored more than eight goals once.

Niklas Hjalmarsson: Drafted in the 4th round, 108th overall in 2005. After being drafted he spent two years in the SEL, and then played a year and a half in the AHL, before being called up half way through last season.

Brent Sopel: Signed a one-year, free-agent deal September 28th, 2007 and then signed a three-year extension in January of 2008.

Nick Boynton: Acquired from Anaheim for future considerations on March 2nd, 2010. He was assigned to the minors before being recalled on March 17th.

Jordan Hendry: Wasn’t drafted and was signed as a free agent July 17th. He’s played 92 NHL games over the past three seasons splitting time between the Hawks and the AHL.

Jonathon Toews: Drafted 3rd overall in 2006. After spending a second season at North Dakota he made his NHL debut in 2007 and he recorded the second-longest point-scoring streak to start an NHL career, registering a point in each of his first 10 games.

Patrick Kane: Drafted 1st overall in 2007 and won the Calder trophy as best rookie in 2007/2008 with a 72-point season.

Patrick Sharp: Was acquired from the Flyers on December 5th, 2005 along with Eric Meloche for Matt Ellison and a 3rd round pick. A great trade by the Hawks.

Dustin Byfuglien: Drafted in the 8th round, 245th overall in 2003. He spent two more seasons in the WHL, then two years in the AHL before becoming a regular in 2007/2008.

Dave Bolland: Drafted in the 2nd round, 32nd overall in 2004. Played two more years in the OHL, and then spent one season in the AHL, before playing the last three in Chicago.

Marian Hossa: Signed as a free agent on July 1st, 2009. Hossa’s contract works out to a $5.2 million cap hit, but the first eight years he will earn $59.3 million. The “Hossa Curse” is over after he finally won the Cup after losing it with Pittsburgh and Detroit.

Kris Versteeg: Was acquired from Boston on February 3rd, 2007 along with a conditional pick for Brandon Bochenski. Another great deal by Dale Tallon.

Troy Brouwer: Drafted in the 7th round, 214th overall in 2004. He spent two more years in junior and then two in the AHL before becoming a regular last season. Brouwer potted 22 goals in his 2nd NHL season.

Andrew Ladd: Acquired from Carolina on February 26th in exchange for Tuomo Ruutu. Ladd was the 4th overall pick in 2004, and then spent one more year in the WHL and half a season in the AHL before becoming a regular in Carolina.

Tomas Kopecky: Signed as a free agent July 1st, 2009 at $1.2 million for two years. After being drafted in 2000, he spent two years in junior, then four years in the AHL before making the Red Wings in 2006/2007.

Ben Eager: The former first round pick of the Phoenix Coyotes was acquired on December 18th, 2007 from the Flyers for Jim Vandermeer. He scored the game winner in game two of the Cup finals and is a great energy guy. He, along with Sean Burke, was dealt to Philly from Phoenix for Mike Comrie before playing a game in the NHL.

John Madden: Signed a one-year, $2.75 million free agent deal with the Hawks on July 1st, 2009. He wasn’t drafted and signed as a free agent in New Jersey and he went on to win two Cups with the Devils.

Adam Burish: The Hawks drafted him 282nd overall, (9th round) in 2002. He played four years of college after being drafted, then one in the AHL before cracking the Hawks lineup in 2007/2008.

Colin Fraser: He was drafted in the 3rd round in 2003 by Philadelphia, but was traded to the Hawks, along with Jim Vandermeer and a 2nd round pick (Brian Bickell) for Alexei Zhamnov. Fraser. After being drafted he played two years in the WHL, then three in the AHL before becoming a regular in Chicago in 2008/2009.

Brian Bickell: Drafted by the Hawks in 2004, 41st overall. Spent two more years in junior and three years in the AHL and got called up late this season.

The Hawks championship team consisted of ten draft picks, eight free agent signings and six players acquired via trade.

What I found most interesting is that out of their ten draft picks, only Kane and Toews were drafted after the lockout and they are the only two who were top-ten picks. Seabrook was the other first rounder, so only 30% of the Hawks’ draft picks on the team were first round picks.

It is clear a championship team has to draft well, but they need to make smart picks in every round, not just the first round.

Ice Woman of the Week

The playoffs are over, but the biggest tournament in the world, the World Cup, is starting tomorrow and in honour of the “Beautiful game” here is Abbey Clancey. Clancey is a model and is engaged to English footballer Peter Crouch.

Random thoughts

  • I wonder if Jonathon Toews is the first forward to win the Conn Smythe Trophy without scoring a goal in the Stanley Cup finals?
  • Should the final series be worth more in voting for the Conn Smythe?
  • I’ve always been a fan of Jeremy Roenick. I liked how he played the game, and I appreciated his honesty. Some people mocked him for being emotional after the game last night, but I thought it was refreshing to see.
  • Jeff Carter will be having nightmares all summer after missing a great chance in the final two minutes of game six. Carter never looked in synch after returning from two broken feet.
  • What will it cost to get Kris Versteeg? The Hawks have to trim some salary and he seems the most likely to go, so if I’m Darryl Sutter I’d be calling up Stan Bowman right away. The Flames don’t have any high draft picks and no young prospects, but Sutter has never been afraid to make a move and he did steal Rene Bourque for a 2nd rounder a few years back. Steve Tambellini might kick some tires, but I don’t see him giving up one of his young prospects because the Oilers are still a few years away from being competitive.
  • While the Hawks have to shed some salary (Huet will go to minors and they’ll try to trade Sopel or send him down), so do the Flyers. Braydon Coburn is a RFA, and he’s in line for a huge raise from his $1.3 million cap hit. If I’m Holmgren I’d call up Montreal and see if they’d take Gagne for Carey Price? The Flyers need a goalie and have to shed some salary, while the Habs could use a goal scorer.
  • I’m hearing the Dallas Stars are interested in Sheldon Souray. I have no idea what they’d be willing to give up, but if Tambellini could get one of Matt Niskanen, Mark Fistric or Nick Grossman he’d drive to Dallas himself to pick them up. It sounds like Joe Nieuwendyk might have to function with a payroll of $45 million, and if that’s the case it might be hard to add Souray. But the Stars need a veteran on the backend, so don’t rule out Souray as an option.
  • I suspect teams will try to emulate the rosters of the Hawks and Flyers more than how they were built. Both teams had three solid offensive lines. Gone are the days of a true checking line, and with so many young talented kids entering the league, I suspect we will see more teams go with three lines and one energy/physical line. The Hawks fourth line could be the 3rd line on many NHL teams. Claude Giroux would be the 1st line centre on some NHL teams, and he was on the 3rd line in Philly. Unreal.