Enforcers in the NHL use to be critical role on every team. The NHL as the years went on has more “talent” based and teams turned to speed and skills instead of grind and wear and tear down teams. Enforcers went from being the good guy to becoming the guys no body wants. Look around the NHL, most of the typical “enforcers” are either scratched players or in the AHL. Since they don’t score and produce as much they are given very limited playing time.
There are many positives to enforcers and them playing in the NHL. Think about it, no enforcer is going to want more than two million dollars for a contract and in this day in age, with the salary cap, that is close to nothing. But sadly, teams aren’t willing to give them that contract due to the fact they don’t produce. They’ll give you anywhere from 5-15 points in a season.
Enforcers have always been that locker room guy that teams need. Enforcers are usually a team-first oriented player who puts his boys first before him. Players like having a guy they can trust will have their back. Players back in the day loved playing with Bob Probert or Tie Domi because if they were a superstar player and a guy cheap-shotted them, either right there or later in the game one of those guys would be beating the crap out of that guy. They don’t mind taking the hits if it means no one will hurt there brother.
Enforcers today are looked at as meaningless space on a team. No one except real hockey fans understands how truly important they are. The problem to why people don’t think so is due to concussions and fighting. Believe me, as a player I hate concussions and hate seeing my teammates get them and the whole CTE issue is bad, but fighting has been around the NHL since its existence and taking it out because of concussions and potential injury is like taking out alley-oops out of basketball. It energizes the stadium and teams and while it doesn’t happen all the time, it is still awesome when it does and you hope to see it when you go to a game.
Okay, so while I believe the enforcer has in a sense “died”, a few teams do in fact have a guy to turn to to bring that enforcer element to there team. Ryan Reaves of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Jared Boll of the Anaheim Ducks are guys who play 50-70 games a season and sometimes more and while they produce a little more than the average guy, teams like to have them in to protect there star players. There should be more of these guys in the league because while executives of the NHL might not like them, the players do and thats the important thing.
The team that has won 3 Stanley Cups in the past 7 years and were predicted by many to win the cup this year, got swept in the first round by the eighth seed, Nashville Predators. Shocking, disappointing, disbelief, these are just a few of the words that can describe the 109-point Blackhawks. General Manager Stan Bowman was “frustrated and angry” by being swept and considered this year a “complete failure.” I think the people of Chicago and the hockey world would have to agree with Stan Bowman. Bowman also said how there will be changes coming to the Chicago Blackhawks.
This summer will definitely be an interesting one. With the expansion draft, and all the trade rumors, the Blackhawks are a team to keep your eye on. The Hawks look like they’ll be going with the 7-3-1 choice for the draft. The 7 being- Kane, Toews, Hossa, Anisimov, Panik, Hartman, and Jurco, the 3 being- Keith, Seabrook, and Hjalmarsson, and the 1 being- Crawford. This makes the most sense but it leaves some guys unprotected.
The Blackhawks who are right there at the salary cap, are in many rumors to making moves to clear up the cap space and even willing to trade one of their core players. One of the rumors is that they have a deal in place with the Las Vegas Golden Knights, to take Defenseman Trevor Van Riemsdyk, and forward Marcus Kruger. The deal would take $3 million dollars off the cap from Marcus Kruger’s contract but even with that, the Hawks would be very close to the cap.
- Trading Brent Seabrook: Seabrook has been a backbone of the Chicago defense alongside Duncan Keith for many years including all 3 of their Stanley Cup championships. Sadly, his play is slowing down. He hasn’t been as productive as he has been in the past and with a $6.8 million dollar cap hit, the Hawks have been looking to move him. While his contract would be hard to move, they could get a decent return for him and teams would be getting a solid top 4 defensive defenseman that can eat up minutes.
- Trading Niklas Hjalmarsson: This one was very surprising to many people and it would be if it was completed. Hjalmarsson, 30, is one of the top defenseman at blocking shots in the league and holds down the fort of the penalty kill for the Hawks. But he has a $4.1 Million dollar cap hit and with the Hawks looking for anything to clear up cap space, this deal might be happening. Hjalmarsson can bring back more than Seabrook if traded and has even been linked to a deal involving Alex Galchenyuk of the Montreal Canadiens.
- Trading Artemi Panarin: No! Not the Bread Man! Sorry Hawks fans but yes Artemi Panarin is a potential trade piece. Fan favorite and a proven goal-scorer since joining the Hawks, it would be a tough pill to swallow if he was traded. But again the Blackhawks want to clear up cap space and he has a $6 million dollar cap hit. This rumor hasn’t been as big but he is a core player and Bowman has been looking to move one and Panarin would get the Hawks a very very good return.
Along with all of the NHL, keep a close eye on the Chicago Blackhawks because they seem like they will for sure make a splash in the news this offseason.