Hockey

Stan Can’t Overcome The Fear

It’s always a little hard to judge what a team does at the deadline. We’re not on the phones, we don’t know what the other offers were, so at the end of the day you can’t really say the Hawks didn’t get enough for what they did decide to move along. This may have been the best they could have done for Robin Lehner and Erik Gustafsson.

The problem is that in some ways, the Hawks backed themselves into this. We were hardly the only ones screaming for the Hawks to trade Gustafsson last deadline. His value would never have been higher. He was never going to match that season again. And he was never going to be part of the long-term plans here. It was obvious. When you see Brady Skjei going for a first…

But Stan was afraid of not giving the veterans every chance of chasing a highly unlikely playoff spot. He couldn’t take the bigger risk of sacrificing what was right in front of him, which wasn’t much in reality, for what was to come, which is never guaranteed.

So he sat on Gustafsson. And a third round pick is all you get. It’s always nice to have more spins of the wheel, but your expectations of a third-rounder aren’t high.

As for Lehner, the deadline comes when his play had slipped and Crawford had clearly been playing better than him. There was a brief kerfuffle that Lehner was willing to take a discounted, three-year deal to stay with the Hawks longer term. But you know what? Fuck that. One. that’s in direct contrast to him telling the press himself he wouldn’t be taking any discounts a few weeks ago. Two, the Hawks have too many needs to start blowing too much cash in net, because you still have to pair Lehner with someone. Which brings us to three, which is that Lehner hasn’t earned a three-year deal. He’s got one season as a 1A in a Trotz system, and he’s got two months here bailing out a bad defense, and six weeks of being meh. He’s hardly a guarantee. And his mouth may have worn out his welcome in the dressing room.

Once Carolina decided they weren’t going to chase a goalie, or not pay the price for one, there really isn’t a huge market for one. Vegas needs Fleury insurance. The Flames or Oilers probably should have been looking, but it wasn’t pressing for them. So this is what you get.

Still, the Hawks can focus on re-signing Crow, as long as he finishes the season strongly, and it probably won’t cost them much more than $5M for one or two years. That’s at a number where you can bring in a partner for him at a decent rate.

Still, what the Hawks need is clear, and I today doesn’t really get them closer to it. They’re a d-man plus Ian Mitchell short, or two d-men short, and a forward. Maybe Slava Denim is that down the road, but it sure feels like he’s two years away at least. 2nd or 3rd round picks are only the last part of packages to get something that matters.

With the amount of forwards moving today, one wonders if Stan took any calls on Brandon Saad or even Dylan Strome. Seeing as how he didn’t move them, at least in Saad’s case you might as well start talking about an extension with him just to see, because he can still be a part of a good team here.

Every deadline, when it feels like Stan hasn’t done enough, we hope the summer brings more moves. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. Saad’s value will be lower then than it is now, so is that even worth it? And maybe a trade isn’t even necessary if they do the things that are necessary to open up cap space (buying out Maatta, keeping Seabrook in the gimp’s closet). You never know what will be on offer.

You can’t force the offers to be out there. Maybe Lehner would have fetched you more a month ago, but a month ago the Hawks thought they were in it. Crawford probably would have been a higher price than Lehner right now, and given that there wasn’t much of a market for Lehner, that’s probably not worth it.

It’s underwhelming, but it probably always was going to be. And that’s what happens when you don’t have a vision and are making things up as you go. And that’s where the Hawks have been for three seasons now.

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