Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Campoli helps, but is he enough for Hawks?
By Jesse Rogers
The Hawks are happy Chris Campoli is not merely a rental for the rest of the season.
It's been a busy few days in the NHL, and for the Chicago Blackhawks. In the midst of their best run of the season, we'll examine -- in several blog posts -- the moves and ramifications.
It doesn't sound like Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman changed his thinking about the trade deadline due to the season-ending injury suffered by defenseman Jordan Hendry on Sunday.
After all, the injury occurred about 17 hours before the deadline, so to move in a new direction might have been difficult at that late stage.
Then again, the Hawks were already looking at a list of blue-liners, so why not grab two?
In the end, they produced no extra depth, since Chris Campoli will just take Hendry's roster spot. In fact, they're still down a body after letting Nick Boynton go on waivers.
Say what you will about Boynton, he's still probably more valuable than anyone the Hawks have in the minors, except maybe Jassen Cullimore. But choosing between Cullimore and Boynton going into a playoff run isn't exactly a choice anyone wants to make in the first place.
Bowman spoke of the experience veterans Cullimore and Garnet Exelby bring as he also praised the progress of the young defensive corps, but it rang hollow. Cullimore was with the Hawks for a short period of time while none of the other defensemen have seen an NHL game this year. It's not the formula for depth going into a playoff run.
Bowman also switched gears, at least in his public statements, regarding the type of defenseman the Hawks were looking for via the trade market. Instead of a penalty killing rental, he got a more rounded defenseman who fits in for the longer term.
"We're trying to find a defenseman that can be a penalty-killing type," Bowman said on Feb.11. "Right now we're using our top guys a lot. In a perfect world we could get a guy to come in and do that."
After trading for Campoli, Bowman took a slightly different stance.
"We were looking for someone with some versatility, some experience, someone who played in a lot of situations," Bowman said on Monday. "Chris certainly fits that bill."
To be fair, it sounds like the Hawks kicked the tires on a lot of different types of defensemen.
"We looked at some guys like [penalty kill specialists]," Bowman said. "There are not a lot of guys that fit that category exclusively. What we also liked about Chris is he's not a rental player. He's not just here for a couple of months. We have his rights beyond this season. That factored into it."
It all might be splitting hairs, and none of this will matter unless there is another injury on the blue line or the Hawks' penalty killing takes another step back.
Hearing Bowman talk about the future of Campoli, barring a trade, the Hawks might already know their six defensemen for next season. If Hendry recovers fully, he could be brought back as a 7th man.
Having said that, with Campoli already making over $1 million and a restricted free agent at year's end, most believe the Hawks can't pay their current crop of blue-liners what will be required. Even without a raise for Campoli, the six defensemen would be making a combined approximate total of $25 million. That's a huge chunk of the cap space the entire team. Is that likely?
Bowman said he envisions this defense here next season as it's the foundation for everything the Hawks do in their puck possession game. But what else would he say right now? It looks good on paper but the reality might be a whole lot different.
First things first, the Hawks have to survive this year, without much depth on the blue line, while continuing to improve their current penalty killing.