Sunday, July 09, 2006

Havlat To The Hawks

Martin Havlat is a Chicago Blackhawk, arriving in the windy city via a three-way trade between Chicago, Ottawa, and San Jose.

To recap, the players switching teams are as follows:

To San Jose: F Mark Bell (from Chicago)
To Chicago: F Martin Havlat and F Bryan Smolinski (from Ottawa)
To Ottawa: D Tom Preissing and F Josh Hennessey (from San Jose); D Michal Barinka and a 2008 2nd Round Draft Pick (from Chicago)

You would have to assume that Chicago anticipates being able to lock up Havlat long term, otherwise, they wouldn't have made this deal. But we should remember that these are the Chicago Blackhawks, and giving them any credit is probably giving them too much credit.

Nonetheless, they basically get Havlat for Mark Bell, a gritty forward whose career high in points is 48, Michal Barinka, a prospect on defense, where the Hawks are loaded, so they can afford to lose him, and a 2nd Round draft pick. Even if they get one year of Havlat, that's a good deal for them, assuming that he can help restore some modicum of respectability to the franchise. Oh, and they get Bryan Smolinski as a throw-in (salary dump, from the Sens perspective), who should replace Bell's production. This is a good to great move for them, depending on if they resign Havlat, and for how much.

Unless this move was done to clear salary, I can't imagine what Ottawa gets out of it. I like Preissing, he impressed me a lot against Edmonton in the playoffs, but I don't know much about Hennessey or Barinka. They have to replace Zdeno Chara, but Preissing is a different kind of player. He should, along with younger defenseman like Volchenkov and Mezjaros, help replace the big man's minutes, and makes the Sens defense more mobile, but less physical. Still, I can't help but think that they could have gotten a better return elsewhere, even if they waited until the trade deadline to dump Havlat. Unless this move was done to clear salary in advance of another move, I don't get it.

As for the Sharks, they have great depth throughout the organization, so they can afford a 2-for-1 swap. I anticipate that they have Bell pegged to replace Alyn McCauley's role as a two-way forward on the 3rd line. They will miss Preissing, but have enough young defenders to make up for his loss.

To summarize, this is a good trade for Chicago and San Jose, but I have to think that there are a lot of Senators fans shaking their heads right about now.

Update: Looking at things from the salary perspective, I can understand why Ottawa would make this trade. Swapping Smolinski for Preissing saves them $900,000 this season, and puts their payroll just above $35 million for the 14 players they have signed. Ottawa is apparently willing to spend up to the cap, so unless they thought that Havlat's arbitration number would break the bank, I can't see a reason for them to take this deal.

(As an aside, they still have four arbitration cases remaining - Vermette, Kelly, Neil, and Schaefer, none of whom should be excessively expensive).

(Second aside, the full list of players who filed for arbitration can be found here.)

Assuming that these arbitration figures cost them $4-5 million, that leaves them with only a mil or two to fill out the remaining 3-4 roster spots, and have a bit of flexibility. From a financial perspective, it became pretty clear that they would have to move him, or jettison at least a couple of their other arbitration-eligible players.

As a final word, despite the numbers, I can still think of only three plausible explanations for why Ottawa would accept this particular trade:

1. Due to his insistence on testing free agency next summer, there was a bear market for Havlat. This could have been the best (or maybe even the only) offer they received. I find this hard to believe, but stranger things have happened.

2. They figured Havlat would be awarded something in the range of $4.5-5 million, and once it became clear that they couldn't afford it, his trade value would be significantly lowered from what it already is.

3. They know something about Josh Hennessey, Michal Barinka, or the 2008 draft that I don't.

Second Update: Havlat has signed a 3-year, $18 million deal with the Hawks. I said in my draft preview that the Hawks really needed a franchise forward (preferrably a goal scorer too), and Havlat certainly fits the bill. Whether or not his $6 mil a year salary is worth it, especially given his history of injuries, is up for debate.


At 7:47 PM, Blogger Andy Grabia said...

Nice Billy Beane play by Wilson, inserting himself into that deal. Good to see Havlat isn't worried about the money, too, and just wants to play with a great organization like the Hawks.

At 7:48 PM, Blogger Avi Schaumberg said...

I think the answer to "What does Ottawa get?" is "something," as opposed to the alternative, "nothing," which is what was on offer as a combination of cap space and pending UFA status.

Havlat was supposely seeking a $4/1 deal for the coming year (via arbitration) -- a number within reach given his $2.6 M salary last year.

But Ottawa's got $28 M committed to it's top-seven players: Redden (6.5), Alfredsson (4.67), Heatley (4.5), Spezza (4.0), Gerber (3.7) and Corvo (2.5!). I don't think they could've squeezed him in even if they wanted to.

He would've been another strong candidate for the All Injury Line I've been promoting. Pity.

At 7:50 PM, Blogger Alex said...

Good points, Avi. I didn't see your comment until after I had updated my original post.

At 8:07 PM, Anonymous MattM said...

A few thoughts.
Does this actually free up enough cap space for Ottawa to go after Peca? He'd be a nice addition for them.
Adding Preissing makes the Corvo deal look even sillier.
As good as Havlat is, 18million over 3 years is ridiculous.
The Hawks are still going to suck.

At 8:17 PM, Blogger Alex said...

Assuming the salaries of their arbitration-eligible players come in on the low side, I could see Peca landing in Ottawa for a one-year, $1-2 million deal.

I think Corvo was added more for depth, so picking up Preissing is a good move. It will become an even more important one if they lose Chris Phillips next summer.

At 9:22 PM, Blogger Alex said...

Ok, now that I realize that Corvo is signed for 4 years, at $2.5 mil a year (I had somehow missed this when going over their roster), I have to say that this is a ridiculous deal. I agree with you, Matt, just a silly move

At 12:36 AM, Anonymous David Johnson said...

"...if they lose Chris Phillips next summer."

That should probably read "when" not "if". They already have $30.5 million tied up to just 10 players (Redden, Alfredsson, Heatley, Spezza, Gerber, Corvo, Fisher, Meszaros, Eaves and McGratton). I can see Phillips wanting in the $3.5-4 million range (Willie Mitchell is a good comparison and he got $3.5 million per year this summer) and I think that might be outside of Ottawa's budget, especially if Schaeffer, Vermette, and Neil sign multi-year contracts. It's possible they could keep Phillips but it would be tough.

As for Peca, I am not sure if it will be enough cap space to get him. They are currently just over $35 million and Vermette, Schaeffer, Neil, Schubert and Kelly will probably take them to between $40 and 41 million and they will still have a couple of forward spots to fill. All indications are that he would prefer to go to the Leafs and I can certainly see the Leafs matching any Sens offer up to a couple million and I can't see the Sens being able to offer more than that.


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