Stan Bowman made his first big in-season move earlier this week acquiring Michael Frolik from the Florida Panthers, for Jack Skille. Just as with last season’s Cam Barker trade however Bowman managed to get a solid prospect thrown in as well, Alexander Salak. Salak, 24, currently leads all goalies in the Swedish Elite League with a .925 save percentage and six shutouts, and ranks sixth with a 2.04 GAA for Farjestad BK.
Frolik is in his third season in the NHL and already has a pair of 21 goal campaigns under his belt. Yes, his goal scoring is down a bit this season due to a recent scoring slump; but his assist numbers have picked up. Frolik already has 21 helpers on the season, he had only 22 last year and 24 the year before. Also Frolik’s shooting percentage is freakishly low at only 5.1%, which is less than half of the 11.1% he shot over the previous two seasons. Coming to Chicago and playing with better talent should help him find the back of the net, not to mention keep his assist total climbing.
Despite a solid move for Bowman, he is far from done. He recently has been quoted as saying he is seeking a penalty killing defenseman. The Hawks penalty kill has struggled all season. While it has improved of late, it still ranks 26th in the league, killing only 78.4% of the penalties they have taken. On the back end Duncan Keith leads the way killing penalties, a power play goal against is scored every 9:52 of short handed toi Keith plays. Second best is Nick Boynton at 9:23, followed Brent Seabrook at 8:39, Brian Campbell at 8:12 and Nik Hjalmarsson at 6:17. Clearly, the Blackhawks could use another penalty killing defenseman (though I would argue that the forwards on the pk are just as much if not more to blame for the pk woes).
There are several teams looking for defensemen right now and few teams out of the playoff hunt. With the Skille for Frolik trade the Blackhawks are even more up against the cap than they were just a few days ago. According to Capgeek.com the Blackhawks can add a player with a max cap hit of $885,078 plus the salary of any out going player. The players mist likely being dangled by Bowman are Boynton, Jordan Hendry, or Viktor Stalberg, all of whom make $850,000 or less. Since Bowman, mentioned that he is specifically looking for a defensman who can kill penalties, lets look at a few players from teams that are out of the playoff chase that fill the role.
Andy Greene – NJD – The Devils are on a little run of late, but are still 13 points out of the playoffs and 13th in the East. The 28 year-old Green is a UFA at the end of the season. Greene averages 2:44 shorthanded toi a night. The Devils only allow a power play goal against every 10:03 that he is on the ice or 5.97 goals per 60sh/toi he is out there; which would be best on the Blackhawks. He is a -17 on the season but the Devils as a whole have struggled being outscored by 39 goals as a team, and hasn’t been helped by the team’s .898 save percentage. Greene also will provide some offense with 3 goals and 16 assists, he also plays 1:43 on the power play so could fill in there in a pinch as well. Green’s cap number is $737,500 which means the Hawks would be able to fit him in regardless of who they send out.
Mike Weaver – FLA – Obviously, Dale Tallon has shown he harbors no ill will towards his former organization and a willingness to trade with them. The Skille/Frolik trade shows that Tallon may in fact over-value some of the players he brought to the Blackhawks organization, which if that is the case Bowman would be wise to continue to exploit that weakness. Weaver has this and next season remaining on his deal at $900,000 so unlike Greene he wouldn’t be a pure rental. Also at 32 he has maxed out his potential. Weaver plays 3:16 shorthanded minutes a night. He has been on the ice for 19 pp goals against 176:24 total short handedminutes or a goal every 9:17 shorthanded minutes played. FLA is still a few years from competing for a cup, and Tallon intends to follow his Chicago blueprint for building, which means he has little use for a 32 year-old defenseman.
Andrew McDonald – NYI – The Islander continue to plummet in the standings as the goaltenders keep getting hurt, but a team that banks on Rick DiPietro should expect that. The Islander probably don’t want to move McDonald, as he is signed for cheap for a long time; 4 years at $550,000, so the asking price will probably be very high. The Islander are -42 as a team, and McDonald is -6 overall. He plays 2:27 a night with the Islanders down a man and they surrender a goal every 9:33 with him on the ice while shorthanded, which is better than every Blackhawk but Keith. Given that McDonald is cheap, young, and still and RFA at the end of the deal it will take a lot to pry him away from the Isle, but he is worth at least a phone call as on a team that bad there can be almost no untouchable. The high price would be worth it, as the Hawks would be getting a cheap you blue-liner who could solidify the third pair for the remainder of the season and beyond.