By Jay Zawaski-
CHICAGO (CBS) — If you’ve been off the Internet and social media for the last 24 hours or so, you’ve missed quite a bit of Blackhawks news.READ MORE: Elderly Cab Driver Shot In Roseland Carjacking
On Friday, the Blackhawks announced they were adding Daniel Carcillo to their training camp roster. On Saturday morning, the team announced they’d signed the polarizing winger to a one-year, $550,000 deal.
Later, the Hawks would announce the demotion of two of their top prospects, forward Teuvo Teravainen and defenseman Klas Dahlbeck. Peter Regin was also waived to accommodate a cap-saving demotion to Rockford.
Then, rumors of the inevitable “salary cap dump” trade began to pick up steam. When the smoke cleared, the Blackhawks had traded defenseman Nick Leddy and his $2.7 million deal (along with goalie Kent Simpson) to the New York Islanders. In return, the Hawks acquired defensive prospects T.J. Brennan and Ville Pokka and the rights to goaltending prospect Anders Nilsson. More on them later.
Let’s start with the signing of the 29-year-old Carcillo. Earlier this summer, when general manager Stan Bowman traded Brandon Bollig to the Calgary Flames, it appeared as if a message was being sent to coach Joel Quenneville. The trade, along with new deals for Regin and Jeremy Morin, told me that Bowman wasn’t pleased with Quenneville’s decision to play Bollig over more talented and valuable offensive players during the playoffs. Bowman neutered Quenneville by taking his goon and security blanket, Bollig, away.
But as camp went on, the Hawks gave extended looks to a trio of “tough guys.” Cody Bass, Pierre-Cedric Lebrie and Brandon Mashinter were regulars in preseason lineups. Mashinter looked like he was destined for a spot on the roster, but apparently Quenneville wasn’t convinced he was ready for regular NHL action. Quenneville has never been a guy to trust a “kid” over a veteran, and Mashinter was no exception. Enter Carcillo, whose first stint with Chicago consisted of injuries, suspensions and otherwise unremarkable play. Last week, the Pittsburgh Penguins released Carcillo from his tryout, and the Hawks wasted no time in bringing him back.
If you read this column regularly, you know I’m not a big believer in fighting, “momentum,” the deterrent or message sending, but I’ll suspend disbelief and pretend it matters for a second. If the Blackhawks must have an enforcer, why not bring in a guy who can, I don’t know, win a fight? Carcillo has spent most of his fighting career as a punching bag. The most memorable hit of his career came in the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, when he tried to take a run at then Blackhawk Tomas Kopecky. He missed and knocked his then-Flyers teammate Jeff Carter to the ice instead.READ MORE: Belmont Cragin Carjacking Leads To Fiery Crash, Multiple Other Parked Cars Struck
I don’t know what Carcillo brings to the table, or why Quenneville is so obsessed with his game. Perhaps more troubling is fact that Morin, once again, will be in the press box more often than not. Quenneville and Bowman have again opted for the myth of the deterrent over the science of numbers.
Now to the Leddy deal, which had to be made and, on paper, has a return that looks adequate. The Hawks got three legit prospects, one of whom (Brennan) even won the AHL’s equivalent of the Norris Trophy last season. However, he will need to clear waivers before he’s sent to Rockford. That means that Brennan may never even be part of the organization.
Nilsson doesn’t have a contract. He’s playing in Russia’s KHL and needs a new deal before he can play for Rockford or Chicago. That makes two player who may never even be part of the organization. If Brennan clears waivers and Nilsson becomes part of the system at some point, I have no problem with the deal. However, if the Hawks lose out on one, or both, the return is nowhere near good enough for a player like Leddy.
It was also becoming clear that Quenneville was never going to trust Leddy in key situations. When the game was on the line, he was strapped to the bench. That’s not exactly the right way to develop a player. Leddy is better served playing in Long Island, where he’ll play top-four minutes and have the chance to develop defensively.
With the Leddy trade, the Hawks are under the cap by about $860,000, assuming this roster reflects something close to their opening night roster. That means they still lack the cap space to call up Teravainen ($894,000) or to choose Trevor van Riemsdyk ($925,000) over Dahlbeck ($613,000) or Kyle Cumiskey ($600,000) without making another move.
Could the Hawks have something else up their sleeves? Kris Versteeg’s name has been rumored for a couple of weeks, but it may be tough to find a taker after his abysmal 2013-’14 season. Whatever happens, this team is still good enough to win the Stanley Cup this season. That may hinge on Quenneville playing the best players.
Is he willing? We’ll find out this spring.MORE NEWS: CPD: Woman Accidentally Shot, Killed By Boyfriend In McKinley Park
Jay Zawaski is the executive producer of the Spiegel and Mannelly Show on 670 The Score and the Blackhawks columnist for CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JayZawaski670.