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Blackhawks Tue Jul 01 2014
With all the rumors swirling around last week about Patrick Sharp and his $5.9 million deal being dealt away to create more cap space, it turned out general manager Stan Bowman had other plans in mind -- at least for now.
Coming into the 2014 NHL draft in Philadelphia this past weekend, Bowman remained tight-lipped about the Hawks' leading scorer during the regular season and deflected towards the need to re-sign Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, the need to prepare for lining up new picks and locking in restricted free agents in Jeremy Morin, Ben Smith and Antti Raanta -- all three for two-year deals. Toews and Kane are asking for $12 million each, which they likely won't get, but probably will get close -- say, around $10 million each.
So, with all the drama coming to a crescendo Friday evening, Bowman pulled off a trade no one saw coming: a two-for that included the 20th and 179th picks from San Jose for the Hawks' 27th and 62nd picks. Then, Bowman followed that up Saturday by trading away "sometimes serviceable during the regular season fourth liner" Brandon Bollig to the Calgary Flames for the 83rd overall pick.
The Bollig trade was two-fold: the first the need to unload a player who had 14 points total for the Hawks during the regular season (seven goals, seven assists) and whose CORSI-for in the playoffs this past season was a lowly 35.4 percent. The other was to unload some much-needed cap space in Bollig's $1.25 million, per CapGeek.com.
With that 83rd pick for Bollig, the Hawks drafted 20-year-old Matheson Iacopelli of the USHL, who has committed to Western Michigan University. According to Bill Placzek (@TheREALWiz) of DraftSite.com, Iacopelli has a hard wrist shot with a quick release.
With that 20th pick in the first round, the Hawks grabbed 18-year-old Nick Schmaltz from Madison, WI. Schmaltz, who easily has one of the more fun last names on the team, will play for the University of Wisconsin this coming season. Schmaltz lit it up in the USHL last season, recording 18 goals and 45 assists for 63 points in just 55 games.
According to EliteProspects.com, Schmaltz is listed as "possess[ing] good vision, shows good quickness and a strong ability to read the play in the offensive end. While he can also play in his own zone." The Hawks had a need for centers coming into the draft, and it would appear they have a promising one to develop in Schmaltz down the line.
The remaining picks the Hawks took over the weekend included:
-88th: F, Beau Starrett
-98th: F, Frederik Olofsson
-141st: D, Luc Snuggerud
-148th: D, Andreas Soderberg
-178th: C, Dylan Sikura
-179th: G, Ivan Nalimov
-208th: F, Jack Ramsey
When the dust settled, the Hawks found themselves a mere $710,705 under the salary cap for the 2014-'15 season. The NHL's salary cap was raised a full $2 million dollars for an even $69 million on Saturday, which also helped the Hawks as well as a few other teams trying to stretch every dollar possible.
Free agency begins today at 11am CST, and with the Hawks barely having enough room to breathe atop near the ceiling for someone to come in and contribute, especially at second-line center, those rumors of Sharp heading out of town might resurface, despite what his agent Rick Curran might think. With the draft complete Bowman and company now can focus on the next step in this offseason: sign Toews and Kane to long-term deals, preferably at the same time.
Some of the weaker pieces have been cut loose, other skillful pieces have been put back into place, while future pieces have been added in hopes to one day contribute at a high level for the organization. It was a long weekend and it could be an even longer week ahead, loaded with tough business decisions for the good of another deep run next June.