McClure is taking the day off to write more digs at me, so I'm here to answer more questions about the upcoming Hawks season. Today's selection comes from Hawkeytalk:
- Which of the new players (via trade) makes the most impact? Which is most disappointing?
Well, this one is pretty easy to answer I think, as the only player from the great summer purge guaranteed to make the roster is Viktor Stalberg. While Leafs fans were thrilled to acquire Kris Versteeg, more than a few of them expressed uneasiness at the loss of Stalberg (and more than that from their female quotient, as ladies around Chicago will soon be finding out). Stalberg is not only big but he can skate like the wind. One thing McClure didn't mention of Viktor yesterday is that word around the campfire is he became very tentative after a concussion last year. And in the Western Conference that features far bigger and nastier teams than the East, that's a problem. The other pieces acquired, such as Morin and Vishnevsky, are probably not going to be seen around these parts until next season, barring miracles or injury crises of suicide-provoking proportions.
However, this Ryan Potulny signing should be watched. 15 goals on the pourous Edmonton team is not something to be sneezed at, and one wonders what he might do with actual competence around him. You never know. As Chris Block pointed out when I was on his show, Potulny came up in the Philly system right next to Richards, Gagne, and Carter, and was thought just as highly of. Maybe he's a burnout, or just a late bloomer.
- Which of the guys that were in Rockford last year makes the most impact? Which is most disappointing?
You'd better hope that Jack Skille is the answer to the first, and not the second. And to me, it's going to be either or with no middle ground. And sadly, I think it'll be the latter. We've seen Skille bounce up and down now for three years, and his game has shown no variance whatsoever. He has one shot, seemingly can only skate in a straight line without the ability to stop, and his awareness leaves a lot to be desired. Now, maybe with a full year of Q in his year his game takes a leap, but for someone drafted 7th overall he hasn't shown the ability to score consistently in the NHL. Watch how Troy Brouwer can float into scoring areas, and then watch Skille's bullheaded rushes to the net at all times. And the Hawks need scoring from the third line, and will want desperately for Skille to provide it. Until he proves otherwise, however...
As for most impact? The easy answer here is Corey Crawford, as above par play from him keeps Turco rested without giving away points (as well as possibly answering who get the reigns next year). The other easy answer is Kyle Beach, but that's the one I'm taking. Beach has looked a cut above in the rookie tournament in Ontario, and there's really no question of his physical ability. It's all upstairs with Kyle, but if Q and Captain Marvel can keep the psychotic side in check, we're looking at Milan Lucic with the actual ability to score.
- Will any of these players make us forget about Ladd, Versteeg, Buff, Madden, Soepl et al? Which one of those players will we miss the most?
No, because I don't think any of the new additions -- be they from elsewhere or Rockford -- have the same type of game that the departed do. The one-on-one shiftiness of Versteeg is not duplicated, though maybe Potulny or Stalberg have some of that. There's no simple checking center like Madden, though Dowell will probably fill what became his fourth line roll. The all around intelligence of Ladd is not matched by anyone, though Pisani might try for the 30 games he's actually healthy. Maybe Boynton is the total meatbag that Brent Sopel was, but we don't know that. What should scare you the most is that outside of Buff there, all of those guys were valuable penalty killers, and new ones are going to have to be found. Sure, Bolland for a whole year will eat up some of those minutes. But who else? Can Skille be counted on to kill penalties? Stalberg? Can Dowell? Does Bickell have the wheels? Questions that won't have answers for a while.
- Which of the core players will have a crazy good season? Which one will we want to expel from the core?
I guess it would depend on your definition of crazy good, but I expect Captain Marvel to pierce 40 goals this year. And perhaps Hossa to do the same. Expel? Well, so much depends on Dave Bolland this year, again. At some point, Q is going to want to shift Sharp back to wing, which means Weapon is going to have to prove he can be a #2 center, and I don't know that he can. If he can, and the Hawks can go out and acquire another checking center, well, things will look a whole lot better. He'll have a lot more power play time this season, and from the wing and not the point inexplicably, which should boost his point total. But can he be an offensive force every night? Frankly, we haven't seen it.
- What’s the over/under on another 100 point season?
Considering the Jackets will blow, and the Blues are coached by a moron, and Nashville might finally be as bad as we think, I think another 100 point season is almost a lock.
- What kind of champagne should I buy now to prepare for another cup win in June?
- Will Sharp win the sexiest Chicago athlete? Will any other ’hawk challenge for the crown?
Take Stalberg and the points.