June 30, 2011
(UPDATE: Sportsnet has Montador signing with the Blackhawks for a four-year deal worth $11 million, or a $2.75 million cap hit.)
The big trades completed around the NHL Draft created some serious mysteries for the free-agent frenzy.
The Los Angeles Kings went from needing a center to needing some wingers. The San Jose Sharks and Minnesota Wild created lineup holes with their trade. And the Chicago Blackhawks needed to add a defenseman after dealing Brian Campbell(notes) to the Florida Panthers -- and they obviously had some cap room to play with following that trade.
On Wednesday night, GM Stan Bowman made an aggressive move to fill that hole, dealing a seventh-round pick in either 2012 or 2013 to the Buffalo Sabres for the rights to Steve Montador(notes), who hit career highs in assists (21) and points (26) to go along with a gaudy plus-16. (Gee, you think he knew it was a contract year?)
Montador is a vastly different player than Campbell, so Bowman was asked today what it is the ex-Sabres defenseman brings to the Hawks. From the Chicago Tribune:
"Montador is a player we've had a lot of interest in," Bowman said. "We actually tried to acquire him at the trading deadline. He's the style of defenseman that we've been lacking here. He's got a lot of skill for a guy who has some physicality to his game.
"A couple other factors about him is that he's a right-handed defenseman, which is really at a premium these days. ... So we like the fact he can play that side. He brings a bit of physicality and grit to the team. He's a character kid. In a lot of ways, he's just coming into his own right now. He's improved the last three years. Each season he's got increased time, playing almost 20 minutes a night last year."
In other words, Campbell was a lefty and a pushover. OK, maybe that's a little harsh — he was overpaid, too.
As Bowman pointed out, Montador had 26 points but only one coming on the power play, where he averaged just 22 seconds per game. The Blackhawks were already third in the League in 5-on-5 scoring with 170 goals; problem being that they were 15th in 5-on-5 goals-against at 148.
Montador isn't Campbell, but he's not an offensive stiff either. If the Blackhawks close this deal, it makes them a better hockey club.