Urgency behind Hawks' deal for Frolik

February, 10, 2011
2/10/11
4:49
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
DALLAS -- The deal that brought Michael Frolik to the Chicago Blackhawks isn’t exactly considered an NHL blockbuster.

But general manager Stan Bowman addressed a need, and if he can address a few more before the trade deadline on Feb. 28, the Hawks will be better for it.

It comes down to urgency.

[+] EnlargeMichael Frolik
Ric Tapia/Icon SMIMichael Frolik gives Joel Quenneville more options than Jack Skille.
Whether Jack Skille turns into a fine offensive player or not, the Hawks don’t have time to wait around for it to happen. Plus, Bowman was right in his assessment: Skille is best on the right wing where he can get his shot off easily after a speedy rush.

The Hawks have a couple of players named Kane and Hossa that play that position. And as much as he tried, Skille isn’t a fourth-line player, though he did have a decent run there earlier in the season.

But became obvious Skille wasn’t in coach Joel Quenneville’s immediate plans. A bit slow to get to the NHL, that same pace to improve in the league wasn’t something the Hawks could afford. Not with a flawed lineup that has no second line center and a marginal top-six forward in Tomas Kopecky.

Frolik gives Quenneville more options, and he’s more polished than Skille. After watching him mix and match with his versatile lineup last season, it’s obvious Quenneville likes options.

Quenneville said Wednesday night they would start to figure out where Frolik fits in. He could center between Koepcky and Marian Hossa as an all-Eastern European line, or Kopecky could drop down to the fourth line while Troy Brouwer takes his spot. That would strengthen both trios if Frolik can find his game again and if they want him to play center. He may start out on a lower line, and at wing and have a chance “to move up in the lineup” as Quenneville put it after the Hawks’ 4-1 win over Edmonton on Wednesday. Ideally, he would be the Hawks’ second-line man in the middle, but that might be too much and too fast for him.

Young 21-goal scorers don’t become available for no reason. Frolik’s play had dropped comparatively to expectations, not unlike Skille. A change of scenery for both players could do the trick. Skille can take his time as a second-line right winger, even if the talent around him isn’t as good, while Frolik will immediately get a boost from the skill he will undoubtedly see lined up beside him.

Alexander Salak , the goalie the Hawks got in the deal, probably isn’t anything more than a possible backup in the near future. The Hawks are trying to fill their pipeline with netminders. They probably don’t have one ready to be No. 2 next season behind Crawford.

For the record, the Hawks believe in Crawford wholeheartedly. Barring something crazy happening, he is their No. 1 goaltender of the present and near future. Look for them to finally settle on the right type of netminders going forward: Big, young, athletic, and cheap. They’ll start with big, young, and cheap, and if they can get athletic, that’s a bonus. It won’t matter his draft status or past history; they can work with big and cheap. See Antti Niemi and Crawford for evidence.

So check top-six forward off the wish list, and if the Hawks are lucky they can put a double check next to “need center.”

For a man of few public words, Bowman made it clear if it’s up to the Hawks they aren’t done wheeling and dealing

“We’ll keep an eye on things,” he said. “We’re certainly looking to improve our team. That’s probably common to every team. We’re not going to shy away from another trade if it’s there to be made ... We’re pursuing it daily.”

A penalty-killing defenseman is on the wish list and possibly a rebel-rousing fourth-liner could still be in the offing.

Word is Bryan Bickell and maybe Viktor Stalberg are being dangled as bait. Let’s see what else Bowman brings back in his net.

Jesse Rogers | email

Chicago Cubs beat reporter
Jesse joined ESPN Chicago in September 2009 and covers the Chicago Cubs for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN Radio 1000.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Patrick Sharp
PTS GOALS AST +/-
78 34 44 13
OTHER LEADERS
GoalsP. Sharp 34
AssistsD. Keith 55
+/-M. Hossa 28
GAAC. Crawford 2.26