Return on the 1999 #4 Pick Shifts Once More

By Bill Placzek
Today the downward spiral of the S.S. Blackhawk continued with the dispatching of Byran McCabe to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Alexander Karpovtsev and a 4th round pick.

This trade makes the Blackhawks older,and in my estimation, further away from G.M. Mike Smith’s goal of becoming one of the leagues upper third teams.
Luck in the lottery dropped the Hawks down into the top four picks for the 1999 draft.

The 1999 draft was one of the stronger drafts in years, boasting four almost can’t miss NHLers and a dozen and a half players who are destined to solid NHL careers.

The Sedin twins, who wanted to start in the NHL together. Would making a move to acquire another top three pick be too closely for the wealthy Hawk management both in terms of money and players?

Why would this franchise, with a dwindling fan base want to bring two of the most publicized promising young players to town?

What if the failed? With this #4 pick, there was the chance to acquire a possible first line centre, something lacking in Chicago since Jeremy Roenick departed.

Hawk fan faithful bombarded the Hawk website with requests to keep and use the pick. (I pleaded that same case in articles you can read below prior to the McCabe trade.)
Instead, former G.M. Bob Murray (now a Vancouver scout – payment for delivering the pick?) chose the band aid route of trading for Bryan McCabe along with a higher 1st round pick in the much weaker 2000 draft. Murray surmised that McCabe would fill a “now” need on the porous Hawk defense, and the 2000 pick would be just as good.

Apparently no one in Hawk management thought to give McCabe’s contract a glance. It said that McCabe had the option of salary arbitration if the Hawks chose not to want to pick up the last year, and the arbitrator withheld it. No way where they going to pay the still developing McCabe,25,to be paid big bucks to do on the job training despite coming to camp bigger and stronger, though still prone to the bad penalty.

So the McCabe band aid is off, replaced by a player, Alexander Karpovtsev, who skipped Toronto Maple Leaf training camp and stayed home in mother Russia because the Maple Leafs wouldn’t meet his salary demands of a salary similar to McCabe’s!

The 6-3, 215-pound Karpovtsev, five years McCabe’s elder,broke into the NHL with the New York Rangers in 1993-94 and was a member of their Stanley Cup winning team that season. He set career highs with nine goals and 29 assists in 1996-97 for the Rangers, but wore out his welcome in 1998 after five seasons there and was traded to Toronto for defenseman Mathieu Schneider.

With Toronto’s emerging as a top third club,so was his plus/minus,amassing a + 48 over the last two years.
Karpovtsev is not a good skater, and has limited speed. He has excelled in blocking shots, blocking 235 over those two years.

Does G.M. Smith think Karpovtsev will block enough of them so Thiabult will have less chance of blowing them?

Clearly this trade is puzzling except for the fact that both Smith and Alexander speak Russian.

New band aid, older band aid ?

Or will we again to be asked to accept a 2 for 1 as additional help?

As of right now, backing out of the #4 slot of the 1999 draft has yielded Karpovtsev,the #11 overall Vorobiev, and a #4 pick in 2001. So the ongoing question will continue to be was Sedin worth walking away from?

Somehow, I do not see Karpovtsev being around when the emergence to the top third team is attained. The player picked in the top four would have been a building block pick.

I again am stratching my head in wonder at how this trade helps the Blachawks both on the ice and off unless Karpovtsev’s agent has agreed for far less money than they were asking, and this was as usual a finnacial decision, in the flavor of the ones made concerning, Ed Belfour, Jeremy Roenick, and Gerald Didick.

Is it clear now that Smith is NOT in complete control? The purse strings are not his to untie.