What is Eric Daze's current status with the Hawks? Is he a UFA, RFA, or is he still signed? Are the Hawks able to trade him and possibly pick up another player? --Andrew Green, Atlanta, GA
Andrew, the status of Eric Daze certainly has been a popular question lately. As the Player Tracker indicates -- it's a permanent link under Team -- Daze is an unrestricted free agent, which is why you won't find his name on the Roster. He is no longer Blackhawk property, so the team cannot trade him and he obviously isn't counting against our salary cap.
Daze's two-year contract expired July 1 and the Blackhawks chose not to exercise their option for a third due to his back problems over the past three years; Daze has only appeared in 20 games going back to the 2003-04 campaign. He is free to sign with any team that offers him a contract. Whether or not that will happen or if he is even recovered enough to play this season, I can't say. I can say that it will be a shame if Daze's career is officially over. Many fans seem to forget that Daze wasn't always injury-prone. He averaged 72 games played for the first eight years of his career and put up four 30-goal seasons. He sits 11th on the Hawks' all-time goals list with 226.
I'm wondering about open spots at center. Is it basically wide open for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, or is it more in stone who is set for each line? Specifically wondering about Nordqvist's and Bolland's chances/spots on the club. --Carson Greer, Charlottetown, PE
Carson, for a look at my projected lineup going into training camp, check out the Depth Chart -- also a permanent link under Team. Other than Martin Havlat and Michal Handzus on the top line, there is very little that is "set in stone" going into camp. That's what camp is for! I do believe that Handzus, Patrick Sharp, Denis Arkhipov and Jonas Nordqvist will be your opening night centers, but which linemates they play with will depend on how they perform at camp and who they have chemistry with.
Dave Bolland is tremendously gifted and has a bright future ahead of him, but I don't see any reason to rush his development. Like many kids just out of junior, he needs to get bigger and work on his skating, and Dale Tallon's vision for the future has Norfolk rookies such as Bolland, Michael Blunden and Troy Brouwer -- and eventually 1st round picks Jonathan Toews and Jack Skille -- all coming up through the system together and forming the Blackhawks' core for a long, long time. If an older forward like, say, Craig MacDonald makes the roster this year ahead of a Bolland, it won't be a reflection on Bolland's talent; it's simply part of the plan to let these kids develop.
I think the Hawks should go after JP Dumont. It will put them close to the cap limit, but if someone gets hurt, we have a lot of prospects that we could call up that could do well. You see that kind of thing all the time. So my question is, what do we have to lose if we go after him? --James MacLellan, South West Margaree, NS
James, the injury scenario I presented in last week's Insider is just one reason you want some cap room. Another could be simply needing to add another piece if you are looking at a playoff run. No cap space means no flexibility to improve your team, and that's a situation no general manager wants to be in.