Saturday, April 22, 2017

Dissecting the Hawks

So the big bad Hawks laid an egg in the first round, getting thoroughly trounced by the Nashville Mustard Tigers.  The Hawks are the first ever #1 seed to be swept in the first round of the playoffs, and Bowman is promising "big changes".  I'm quite curious to see what these "big changes" are.  They won their cups, and full credit to them, but now the bill has come due; their core is mostly old/expensive/both, and their cap situation is a tire fire.  So what do you do?  Hossa's a 1st-ballot hall-of-famer, maybe the best 2-way winger to ever play the game, but he's got 4 years left on his contract and he'll be 42 when it runs out.  Whatever your opinion on Toews, it's impossible to argue that he's work 10.5 mil for 6 more years, and if Kane's production slips at all, he'll be in the same boat.  Seabrook's 32 and under contract for 7 more years at 7 million per, not great now and it'll only get worse as he slides down the bell curve.  Keith has been one of the best bargains in the league for years, and that's still true, but he'll be 39 by the time his contract is up.  Today's NHL isn't just about "how good is this guy", it's about "what are you getting for your money" and none of those guys look like great value for your dollar right now.  The lone bright spot is Panarin, he's on a sweetheart deal for 2 more years, but then he's a UFA and almost certainly gone to somebody who can pay him what he's worth.

So what's the solution?  My guess is you just have to commit to these guys, do your best to patch up the bottom half of the roster with capable bums, and hope you can get another deep playoff run or two out of this core before the wheels come off the wagon.  It's not like it would be a huge shock if this team ended up back in the finals next year.  The only other option is to try and tear it all down, but how many of those guys could you get anything for?  For sure there are teams who'd take Kane, but how many are in a position to take on that contract?  Seabrook's even less attractive, and if I was an NHL GM I'm not sure I'd claim Toews off waivers.  Keith you could definitely move for a nice return, that contract will still be reasonable through his mid- and late-30s, but you do that and you might as well burn the whole thing to the ground, because that's the end of Chicago as contenders.

The icing on the cake?  Kane, Toews, Seabrook, and Keith all have no-movement clauses in their contract, so good luck convincing any of them that they should accept a trade to Vegas or whatever.  I'm not even really joking about that, the expansion Knights might be the only team with the cap space (or real-world dollars) to take on a contract like Toews or Seabrook's.  

Long story short is, Bowman built a great team, and he has the rings to prove it, but he's painted himself into a corner trying to keep it all together ,and if he over-reacts to one bad playoff series there's a real good chance he makes the situation worse rather than better.  Any deal he makes in the next little while won't be from a position of strength, and I just don't see a lot of outs that don't involve something drastic.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Buds All Day

OK so I missed most of the Leafs game tonight because I went out with some friends to celebrate a birthday and were watching the Rush play, and now it's 2:00 AM and I'm finally getting caught up on what happened tonight, and man oh man what a game.  If you saw it in a movie you'd be like, "come on, that's so unrealistic."  Kessel opens the scoring, because of course he fucking does.  JVR ties it up with a RUDE goal, dude picked that puck out of mid-air and chipped it forward to himself AND stayed on-side, and then fires a perfect shot, that's a goal-of-the-year candidate in my books.  Then Andersen gets run over by that shit-bag Sestito, so now it's 1-1 in the biggest game of the year and Curits Mcelhinney, your backup goalie who you got off the goddamn waiver wire, has to come in and save the day.  It's cool though, because Dreamboat Willie will straight-up murder you on the power-play, and he sells the shot before firing a perfect pass to old man Bozak for a tap-in, 2-1 good guys.  Couple minutes later, Pens PP, Mcelhinney gets caught out of position and Crosby buries it, 2-2.  3rd period, 13 minutes left, and some Penguins plug floats a wrister from the half-wall and somehow it deflects off of both Leafs d-men and through Mcelhinney's legs, 3-2 Penguins and of course it was Gardiner who kicked it in, of course it was, and of course those two garbage goals are going to torpedo Toronto's whole season and DAMMIT MCELHINNEY YOU SUCK .  Down to 5 minutes and change, and it turns out the Leafs won the Kessel trade after all because Kasperi Kapanen gets his FIRST NHL GOAL off a sweet pass from Matt fucking Hunwick of all people, and then a couple minutes later, Connor Brown tips home Gardiner's point shot and holy shit the Leafs have the lead! Nazem Kadri and Connor Brown jumping into one another's arms when that goal went in is about as pure an expression of joy as I've ever seen, these kids are so damn precious and also Brown's like the 5th-best rookie on the team, and he has 20 goals which is just stupid.  So now down to the final minute, just gotta hang on, but oh no the Penguins are pressing and oh no Crosby's all alone and OH NO he's got the puck OH SHIT and MCELHINNEY ROBS HIM I LOVE YOU CURTIS and then, the icing on the cake, Auston Matthews gets his 40th goal of the year into the empty net with 3.4 seconds left on the clock because, of course.

So that's that.  The Leafs make the playoffs for the 2nd time in 13 years, and unlike in 2013 they actually deserve to be there this time, and it's great just to get in and all, but win tomorrow and you avoid the Caps and get the Sens instead and I swear if you don't want to see Toronto and Ottawa play in the 1st round there is something seriously wrong with you.

It's probably a good thing I didn't watch this game live, I don't think my nerves could have taken it.