As average as they may still seem as a group, there are plenty of bodies on the blue line for the Chicago Blackhawks. In fact, there’s probably too many.
If the Blackhawks plan on playing Sheldon Brookbank as much as we think, someone is going to end up being a very expensive healthy scratch on a regular basis. And as things stand right now, that expensive healthy scratch would likely be Steve Montador.
Montador is one of a couple of players from the free agency frenzy of last summer to survive to a second year with the Blackhawks. He signed a four-year deal with the club after they acquired his rights just prior to free agency in 2011.
His first season in Chicago wasn’t exactly one to write home about. There were some positive moments, but Montador was a bit inconsistent, though it wasn’t all his fault. He was misused by Joel Quenneville and had some trouble adapting to the finesse style of play in Q’s system, rather than being allowed to play the physical game.
There was also the issue of health. Montador missed much of the second half of the season with a concussion, which left his career in doubt. He says he’s healthy now, though, and should be ready to compete in 2012. The only question is what the Hawks plan to do with him.
It appeared that at least one of Montador or Niklas Hjalmarsson would be on his way out this summer. Labor talks have held up trade discussions around the league, but it looks like both will be on the roster when Opening Night rolls around, whenever that may be.
The situation with Montador is going to be one to watch with this team. Do the Hawks play the matchups and work him and Brookbank into the lineup on different nights? Will Quenneville actually let Montador play the physical game and see how effective he can be in his actual style? Could the Hawks try and dump Montador for a pick and just clear that cap space?
All of those are very valid questions, but I highly doubt we get an answer to any of them any time soon. I’d like to see Montador get another shot with this team, provided he’s healthy, and see him use the body a bit more and get out there and kill some penalties as well.