Hockey

Game #27 – Blues vs. Hawks Spotlight: Was Justin Faulk Really The One Who Got Away?

We had pined for the Hawks to get Justin Faulk for years. There were always rumors that the Canes were going to move him before they had to sign him longer-term, which would have happened this upcoming summer. The summer of ’18 there were actually rumors the Hawks and Canes had talks, circling around Brandon Saad or Nick Schmaltz (whoops, huh?). The Hawks’ need for a quick, puck-moving d-man has only gotten larger. And yet Faulk went to what used to be their main rivals. Did the Hawks drop the ball on this one?

It’s gone ok for Faulk in St. Louis. He’s still getting the same amount of time with the Blues, and his zone-starts are just about the same. The actual metrics are down a bit, like his Corsi and expected goal percentage. But relative to the Blues, who have shitty overall metrics, he’s actually ahead of the game.

Which arrests the pattern Faulk had last year. He fell way behind the Canes’ rate on those things, which is probably what spurred them to finally trade him after years of rumors. He was some five points off, though to be fair to him the Canes were one of the most dominant overall even-strength teams. Someone was going to have to take the brunt of that.

Faulk had also fallen behind Dougie Hamilton and moved to the second pairing, and Brett Pesce and Jakob Slavin had been higher valued for a while. Investing heavily in what would be a second-pairing d-man for them probably didn’t make a ton of sense. What the fuck Joel Edmundson does for them is another question.

The Blues had no such compunction, trading for Faulk and immediately signing him to a six-year extension that will take him to 33 at the rate of $6.5M per. It’s the same was what Alex Pietrangelo makes now, who enters his free agency in the summer. Will the Blues give him more and pay him that until his mid or late 30’s? Maybe Faulk is insurance on that.

Overall he hasn’t been able to swing the Blues much, who don’t have the puck a lot but have leaned on their goalies heavily. They still limit attempts and shots well but don’t create much. Maybe as Faulk adapts he’ll help out with that.

Would he have made sense for the Hawks? With the impending free agency that’s harder to judge. The Hawks have already entrenched d-men, contract-wise, that’s going to make a real trick to get Adam Boqvist and Ian Mitchell on the roster. Even if you subtract de Haan, it’s still a jam with Seabrook, Keith, and Murphy around. However, must Faulk instead of Maatta and de Haan would have given the Hawks the mobility and skill they don’t have. Locking him in for a few years wouldn’t have been a bad idea either, as Mitchell and Boqvist won’t be able to do it themselves for a while.

It’s certainly frustrating for Hawks fans, who watched the always-fucked up Blues show the urgency the Hawks passed on two summers ago to get Bozak and O’Reilly and then win the Cup. And then take the d-man the Hawks had been after for a while and we still watch Gustafsson turn the wrong way, Maatta get beaten to the outside, or Seabrook shit his pants.

Nothing ever stays the same.

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