Mark McNeil, center, poses with team officials after he was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round.
I don't think any of us saw that one coming.
For the first time in....well, my lifetime, the Hawks became the story of the draft. Not only did they make two picks, but two more players from the Cup winner were jettisoned. And now no one has any idea where we go from here.
First, the picks.
With their pick, #18, the Hawks took Mark McNeil. Most thought McNeil wouldn't make it that far, so they did well with this one. McNeil is a big center with skill, and you can never have too many of those.
With the pick they acquired for Troy Brouwer (more on that later), the Hawks took Philip Danault. Some claim he's a real sleeper, as he was the shining light on a bad team in junior, and the only other captain of a team that was drafted in the first round.
Neither of these players will be on the Hawks this upcoming season, barring a miracle, so we'll wait a year or two before we judge how this portion of the night went.
Now to the story.
First, Troy Brouwer. I've been Brouwer's biggest fan, and I thought he was truly mistreated by Coach Quenneville this season (Q moved Brouwer up and down the lineup like he was a checker in a Connect-Four board). He was the Hawks' only big forward who could score and hit consistently.
Still, he hadn't proven he could be a consistent top six forward, and with the money he was asking -- and could likely get elsewhere -- moving him made sense. A first round pick is pretty good value. But now the Hawks have one winger with any size and skill, that being Marian Hossa, and this is something that can and must be addressed on July 1st through free agency.
Jeremy Morin will also have every chance of filling that role, and if Kyle Beach can grow a brain, he may get a look.
And to the biggest component: Brian Campbell being moved to Florida.
Look, no one ever argued 51 Phantom wasn't overpaid. Campbell was an unrestricted free agent and the premier puck-moving defenseman on the market when he was signed. Combine all that and you get a heft paycheck. He could never fully justify it.
But that doesn't mean he wasn't incredibly important to what the Hawks do. So much of their speed-game was having two of the best rushing d-men in the league, Campbell and Keith. They could blitz you for forty minutes a night. And while Soupy gave up some of his offensive game to improve his defensive, you need look no further than the Hawks' woeful record without him in the lineup to see how important he was.
While the capspace is nice, the problems with his removal are sizable. There is no puck-rushing d-man available on the market, so that role will fall to Nick Leddy. He's barely proved he belongs in the NHL right now, and now he's being handed the keys to the #3 role. That's a major risk.
The Hawks have no third pairing right now because Chris Campoli isn't signed and is open to offer sheets next Friday. The Hawks have lost the only veteran leader they had, and the only one who knew from jump street what trouble they were getting into last season.
Can this be addressed in free agency? We shall see.
Oh, and they got back Rostislav Olesz, who is also massively overpaid and doesn't do anything, unlike Campbell who at least provided a lot. The Hawks have some mighty big holes, with admitted cap space to fill them. July 1 is going to be some firework-filled.