Tim Sassone this afternoon on Twitter hinted of “whispers” he’s hearing out of Montreal on a potential trade involving the Blackhawks and Canadiens. Sassone suggested Habs’ winger, and former Chicago Blackhawk, Travis Moen could be part of the deal. Moen skated for the Hawks in the season prior to the 2004-05 lockout and was then dealt by GM Dale Tallon to Anaheim for Swedish utility forward Michael Holmqvist. In all, Moen was a part of the Blackhawks organization for three years, playing in Norfolk in 02-03 and 04-05.
Sassone also intimated one “or more” of the Blackhawks restricted free agents would be headed to the Canadiens as part of the rumored talks. My guess is the player would be Viktor Stalberg, who in college at the University of Vermont was nicknamed the “Swedish Rocket.”
Moen, 29, would give the Hawks some added size (6-2, 216) and grit they’re missing with Troy Brouwer and Tomas Kopecky now gone. Andrew Brunnette has a great knack for the puck around the net but he’s not overly big (6-1, 215) and he’s not a banger. Jamal Mayers may not play much if he even makes the team. Daniel Carcillo is not big and doesn’t intimidate anyone, just annoys them. John Scott is pushed further and further away from the ice with each Stan Bowman move, despite the GM’s comments of wanting to get Scott more ice time. Sean O’Donnell (as a part-timer) and Steve Montador have addressed the team’s need for muscle and toughness on the blue line, but it’s still a work in progress at forward.
Travis Moen is entering the final year of a 3-year contract and has a cap hit of $1.5M. The expiring deal fits in mold Stan Bowman is setting with his free agent transactions, save Montador. Chicago is wisely apprehensive to committing any more long-term dollars in looking ahead to the next collective bargaining agreement. Patrick Sharp will get his, but outside of him I can’t see the Hawks taking another big contract on without moving one they already have or another of today’s RFAs.
As far as the Blackhawks are concerned, Stalberg would be a nice luxury to have as a fourth liner. With his speed and modest skill, Stalberg gives the Hawks a threat on that line. There aren’t many teams who can throw the kind of speed Stalberg has on their fourth lines, and since coaches typically match fourth lines against the other, having Stalberg’s size (6-3, 210) and wheels would give the Hawks an advantage against most other teams in that respect. And Stalberg has enough skill to fill in on scoring lines when injuries warrant or Joel Quenneville is treating his line up card like a Rubik’s cube.
Moen has never been a scorer (career high is 11 goals, with ANA in 2006-07), but is a tough, consistent forechecker and best utilized in a checking line role. He won a Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007 in that checking role with Rob Niedermayer and Samuel Pahlsson.
There are still moves to be made and free agents to sign, and Moen is at this point just an interesting rumor, so we won’t get into where he’d fit in the Hawks’ line up. But, again, (I guess I am doing it anyway) he’s best in that third line checking role, which would mean breaking up the Bolland-Frolik-Bickell trio Bowman was been so fond of. Possibly moving Bickell up to a scoring line, with Brunette being the other scoring line left winger if Sharp’s staying at center. If there’s another plan in store for center and Sharp is making a permanent home at left win, then Moen or Bickell drop to the fourth line and one or more of the July 1st acquisitions would be in the press box or sent packing. Regardless, Moen could be a nice depth acquisition, with an affordable expiring contract.
— In other news, Chris Kuc has a Q&A up today with the Blackhawks Chairman. Rocky Wirtz has been elected to the NHL Board of Directors. Just in time for a CBA overhaul. Rocky also tells Kuc that his team is still losing money.
Before anyone freaks about over the chairman’s claim (he also did this last year), the team is still reimbursing years of loans from Wirtz Corp. In the interview Wirtz claimed it would take another four years before the team could operate on its own in the black. Even then, with the NHL economy and national television rights fees locked in for the next ten years, and also money his team spends, it’s doubtful they’ll ever turn huge profits.
Rocky Wirtz also talks to Kuc about raising ticket prices, looking back at bad deals and signing Cristobal Huet’s paycheck.