The Jimmy Hayes Experience
I was literally in the middle of writing this blog post when the news came out that Shaw has been sent back to Rockford and Jimmy Hayes has been recalled. So although this information isn’t new, I’m posting it anyway. Deal with it.
The Andrew Shaw phenomenon appears to be coming to an end. The newness of Shaw on the big club has worn off and he hasn’t been playing well of late. He is constantly out of position, his shifts are too long because he gets caught out on the ice, he takes dumb penalties and the offense we saw when he was first brought up has vanished. Morrison, Frolik and Bickell are not going to Rockford so that leaves Shaw as the odd man out. It would be nice to see Shaw sent down and Jimmy Hayes get another shot. Hayes is a bigger body, plays more physical, plays a more solid defensive game and showed a scoring touch in his brief stint with the Hawks earlier this year.
I think it is also time to give Alexander Salak a shot at the NHL level. He was pushing Emery for playing time earlier this year and although that’s not saying much right now, Emery did start off hot. He has cooled considerably since then and Salak seems to be doing good things in Rockford right now. Salak is 4-7 with a 2.60 GAA and a .905 Save% this year but he was injured for about 2 months. He has played well in his limited time back from injury. If Salak is going to get a shot this year, it better be soon because you don’t want an untested rookie making his first start in the playoffs. He has to be better than Emery has been. Stan might even be able to deal Emery to a fringe playoff team. Having 3 goalies on the NHL roster is not ideal but it might be worth taking a look since the goaltending hasn’t lived up to expectations this year.
Another player I wouldn’t mind seeing on the Hawks roster again soon is Brandon Pirri. Pirri has 45 points in 49 games for Rockford and was an AHL All-Star this year. He showed good defensive discipline while with the Hawks earlier this year and is responsible on faceoffs. Marcus Kruger has been playing well for the Hawks but until the Nashville game, he hadn’t put up any points. It is worth exploring the option of Pirri at center on the Hawks roster as Kruger has been solid defensively for the Hawks but hasn’t provided much else. If Pirri can be as defensively responsible, win as many faceoffs and put up some points it would be an upgrade. I understand the organizations lovefest with Kruger but Pirri should at least get another look.
Lastly, Tab from CommittedIndians.com had a great write up regarding the loss of Hammer in the lineup – more specifically, do the Hawks miss him? Hammer is a good shot blocker, is used in a variety of situations for the Hawks and most importantly has been through it before and come out with a Cup. He has been shaky with the puck in his own end, gets handled beneath the goal line and panics under pressure as well though. The combo of Leddy and Hammer was obviously struggling before Nik went down. The Hawks defense and commitment to team defense has been better since Hammer has been out and I am NOT saying it is because of Hammer. Is the insertion of Hammer back in the lineup going to dramatically improve the play of the defense again, especially if Hammer comes back at less than 100%? If the commitment to team D can stay as consistent as it has the last 3 games, is it really a huge loss if Hammer isn’t out there? Lepisto has been as serviceable as a 3rd pairing Dman can be and the way Hammer has played this year, he is basically a 3rd pairing guy. Olsen and Leddy are still young but the pairings of Seabs/Leddy and Keith/Olsen have been good of late and playing with 2 grizzled vets has seemed to calm the kids.
If the Hawks are serious about a Cup run this year would a package of Hammer, Emery, Frolik and a Rockford kid be able to bring in a top 6 forward or top 4 defenseman? Stan should at least be exploring the option.