Who, on the farm we audition?
As Alpo hopes for new actors in his theatre company, and Mike Smith runs out of players of any real trade value, now is when the Hawks will be evaluating just who might possibly help the team until the Mike Smith drafts are ready for their auditions.
Picked in the 1995 draft, defensemen Marty Wilford, and forward Casey Hankinson remain Hawk property and play as minor pros. Hankinson, presently playing in Hampton Roads, shows average scoring ability and steady defensive play possibly penciled in as a 4th liner. At present, the Blackhawk major league club has almost three lines of the same.
Wilford, also drafted as a Chicago Cub pitcher, is a chunky six footer who has played well on the minor pro level, but is probably not quick enough for the present pro game.
Geoff Peters and Jeff Paul are all that remains from the 1996 draft where the Hawks traded their first round pick for two numbers twos, the third being the departed Remi Royer. San Jose picked Marco Sturm with the #1 and has never looked back.
Geoff Peters produces good all around play and could project as the next Chris Herpinger, a utility forward who always plays hard and does many things decently. And he fits the Chicago salary structure.
Jeff Paul has not shown enough progress to expect him playing in Chicago at this time. The smaller Hawk defensemen are better transition players and it is clear the Alpo system is “transition is much more important than transgression.”
At present, Kyle Calder has be the most intriguing of the class of 1997. An un Read more»
It is increasingly clear that the face lifts by both former G.M. Bob Murray and current G.M. Mike Smith has done little to lift the team’s major league skin and eliminate the crow’s feet of post season elimination.
Granted there have been some bright spots, the biggest being the added offensive production of l’il Steve Sullivan, at almost a point a game pace since his wavier pick up from the Toronto house cleaning in order that they might be able to add the enigmatic Dmitri Khristich.
Tampa Bay decided Michael Nylander would never play defense and was only effective when in control of the puck, and a risk when he didn’t have it. There were absolutely correct but when placed at centre with Sullivan they are able to be dominant players on the attacking end of the rink,albeit a liability without it. Regardless,without their presence the Hawk offense would be far limited without them.
Besides Amonte and an occasionally on night from the gentle giant Eric Daze, the Hawks have had to fill the rest of the roster with players who would never be considered more than “pieces” elsewhere.
They did cushion their rosters with 32 yr. old rookie Steve Poapst, who has had hard times catching the NHL speed guys,Chris McAlpine, 29 yr. old, an undersized hard hitter who is at best a #5 guy. As is Kevin Dean whose off ice hardships with his premature son have compounded his poor play.
Other plugging has come at times from the still not so ready for prime time Nolan Baumgartner and everyone’s prospect to be, Steve McCarthy.
Chicago’s pre Read more»
This was Mike Smith’s maiden voyage as General Manager, though he has worked for months prior for the Blackhawks organization in the capacity as advisor in the draft.
Assessing prior draft results showed there was much needed, and Smith started by holding on to his two first rounders and then moving down in the second to add additional picks as the draft went on.
Chicago’s 1st round pick, 10th overall, was center and power forward Mikhail Yakubov, 6’3″ 185-pounder from Barnaul, Russia. He is a creative playmaker who works every shift and whose size/skill ratio projects to any forward position. This big hard driving horse plays a power game and will take the hit to make the play. He has jump in his stride along with puck skills, and nose for the net. He is a good faceoff man with a strong work ethic, always defensively responsible and doing the little things that make good three zone players.
Going into the 2000 entry draft, the Hawks felt he was one of the players that would most likely be taken before pick #10. There were a couple questionable reaches made by teams ahead of the Hawks, so when he was still available, they could not afford to pass him up. Their original plan was to make Pavel Vorobiev their “safe” pick and try and trade the other #11 overall pick for more higher picks. They never even interviewed Yabukov. The unlikely happened, and when he dropped into the Hawk lap, General Manager Mike Smith called timeout and said he was going use both picks for Russian team forwards, no less.