The Significance Of Mike Kostka

It was reported on Sunday that Tampa claimed defenseman Mike Kostka off waivers from Chicago. In doing so, the Bolts did the Hawks a huge favor.

According to Capgeek, the Blackhawks had 49 contracts on their books before Kostka was claimed. The limit for contracts in each organization is 50 during any season.

Why does that matter?

The Blackhawks currently have at least two players that will be completing their college hockey careers in the coming weeks that they should want to sign, and would have needed to make another move before the deadline to clear space for them.


Forward Kevin Hayes is having a big season at Boston College, and defenseman Stephen Johns is a strong, stay-at-home defenseman who is finishing his career at Notre Dame. The Hawks also own the rights to senior defenseman Justin Holl at Minnesota.

Under the terms of the CBA, the Hawks have until August 15 to sign them to a permanent contract. [Update: because Hayes and Johns were bona fide college students when drafted, and have spent four full years in college, the Hawks have until mid-August to sign them permanently].

The most recent, notable case of a college player hitting free agency was defenseman Justin Schultz, who was drafted by Anaheim but signed with Edmonton.

The Hawks might still look to make moves before the trade deadline, but moving Kostka opens up enough space for the Hawks to get Hayes and Johns signed and, possibly, contributing in Rockford (or Chicago) before the end of this season… or as a “Black Ace” during the postseason.

Another prospect to keep an eye on as we get closer to the trade deadline Dillon Fournier, a defenseman the team drafted in 2012. By rule, the Hawks own the rights of draft picks for two years but Fournier remains unsigned.

Fournier was having a good season (13 goals, 19 assists in 36 games with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL) before his season ended prematurely this season because of injury.

36 thoughts on “The Significance Of Mike Kostka

  • February 23, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    is hayes still going to sign with the hawks even after they traded his brother?

  • February 23, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    A good question, tim. The younger was originally drafted by Chicago and appears to have a lot more upside… but dealing the older could complicate things. I’d like to see him in Rockford and think he could be a really nice player in Chicago soon.

  • February 23, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    I read an interview with Kevin Hayes about a month ago (can’t remember where so I don’t have a link) but the gist of it was that Kevin has no ill will toward the Hawks for trading Jimmy and is looking forward to signing with the Hawks after his collegiate career is over. Now, the interview was probably done by a Chicago guy, so maybe Hayes just said what he thought the interviewer wanted to hear – who knows. But it seemed legit as presented in the article.

    Same thing with Johns. He supposedly said he will sign with the Hawks too. But agents get in the ear of these young guys sometimes and tunes change so hopefully that’s not the case. I’ve seen two ND games lately and I’ve been impressed with Johns. He has much better speed than I thought he did – at least straight line speed. Don’t know well he thinks the game and how quick his reaction time is because it’s hard to tell that against college kids. That will be the key to whether Johns makes it to the NHL and if he does where he slots. He definitely has the physical tools – 6’4″ and 235lbs with a mean streak – YOWZA!!!

  • February 23, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    Oh, forgot to add – now the Kostka waive makes sense. I only thought of the 23 man roster where the Hawks were only carrying 22 so they could have acquired a player with out moving Kostka – but I didn’t think of the 50 contracts limit.

  • February 23, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    I’ve been wondering if Fournier is one of those diamond-in-the-rough type of players. Putting up solid numbers. Clendening, though, definitely seems ready now. Think him and Johns get serious chances by 2014-2015? Don’t want to see a Dylan Olsen-type of situation with them.

  • February 23, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    Tab – thanks for the update. Do you know if the team can release players from contracts during the year? As I look at the list of contracts on capgeek it seems to me that we will likely let Gilbert and possibly Lefebvre go since both are at Toledo and not likely to turn into real prospects. This would free up space to sign Holl and Fournier.

  • February 23, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    Thanks Tab for this update…good to know…

    ER, the interview you were thinking of was with Scott Powers, and Kevin made it clear that he held no ill will and understood that in an organization as deep as the Hawks, trading Jimmy to Florida was a class move by the Hawks…

    There is no guarantee that either College player will sign with Chicago, BUT we are not only the best team in hockey, but the best franchise with the best owner, best GM, and one of the best coaches in NHL history…that’s a powerful sell to Hayes and Johns…

    Anthony, Clendening IS ready and will be with the Hawks next year…Johns will likely spend a year in Rockford…and while Fournier is a nice looking player, he has a LONG WAY to go before he ever plays in the NHL…Fournier is at least 2 years away from the NHL if not 3 or 4 years…talent, but still too small and not enough composure to withstand the King’s forecheck…so no worries there…

    Finally, yes, if the Hawks want to sign Holl as well, and I think they should, they can let go of one of their AHL contracts to achieve this…

  • February 23, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    re: Sr. Brad’s comments about Fournier being 2-3 years away – if the Blackhawks do not sign him this league year, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent. He’s worth keeping an eye on between now and the deadline.

  • February 23, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    Again, thanks Tab…I don’t want my comments to be misconstrued…I like Fournier, and he has a big upside, but I just can’t see him being NHL ready any sooner than previously mentioned…I hope we do sign him…

  • February 23, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    Very interesting post and pertinent slant to the transaction. Great insight into the big picture…and I agree with Sr. Brad; how can any college player not want to be part of this ‘organIzation?’

  • February 23, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    Thank,s Brad and Tab, for the follow up. Been curious about him and also Travis Brown. Just don’t get to see them play/develop and rely on statistics, which don’t tell the whole story.

  • February 23, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    Anthony, Brown made a name for himself this year back in Moose Jaw to start the season with big numbers on the blue line, but Travis forgot to play defence…when Victoria traded for him about 6 weeks ago, they forced Travis to start playing D…he has been a lot better IMO, even though his offensive numbers are way down…he was a -25 skater for Moose Jaw and is a +7 for Victoria…

    If he can commit to defence, he has an NHL future…because he has a ton of talent.

  • February 24, 2014 at 8:04 am

    This is only 6 months later than it should have happened. Carrying 8 defensemen made no sense to me… or probably anyone other than Q.

    Will be fun to see what happens with Johns and Hayes. I think they can both be pretty good NHLers. Hayes doesn’t skate the best, but he’s certainly better than his brother. Hopefully with the proper tutelage he can get a lot better.

    Canada was by far the best team in the Olympics. I actually think the USA could have been the second best had they fielded a better team. Ryan, Saad, and Okposo would have really helped out the front end. Outside of the shootout, TJ Oshie had no business being there. Wheeler probably could have been effective if used properly. Yandle/Byfuglien on the back end would have helped a lot more than Brooks f’ing Orpik. A better coach than Bylsma would have also been great.

    Phil- I ended up watching the game from home with a couple of delicious beverages as well.

  • February 24, 2014 at 9:13 am

    Tab I saw this move on the scroll last night after I watching Walking Dead so I wasn’t really sure if I saw it correctly. This appears to be an important move because Kostka was never going to be more then a spot D-man. I will be very interested to see Kevin Hayes takes the next step in his career. If i’m not mistaken Hayes had a decent camp w the year to start the year. Hayes is in interesting prospect some scouts aren’t very high on him while others see him as a top 6 player.

    If anything this should give Hawks fans a blue print of how Stan will proceed with his “college” selections. IMO Stan has really put a premium on the college players. The Hawks seem to draft more college prospects then most teams andn now some of Stan’s 1st few college drafted players are starting to reach that “next step”.

  • February 24, 2014 at 9:30 am

    JS, I have to disagree. I agree with you that I would have thought Orpik could have been replaced by someone better, but he was really one of only two defensemen I thought played worth a damn (Martin being the other). Suter did not play great and couldn’t win a battle to save his life.

    I would have liked to see Wheeler earn more time earlier in the tourney over D. Brown. I do not mean to speak sacriledge, but Parise didn’t put much out there either. I think Ryan or Saad could have had a decent transition to the Olympic game. Oh well, it doesn’t matter now.

  • February 24, 2014 at 9:36 am

    I would guess that Bowman likes college kids because they don’t really have any immediate needs on the team. So drafting college kids means you have a handful of years before you expect them to contribute and they should be more well rounded by then. You also don’t have to start paying them until they go pro, so it saves some dollars too.

  • February 24, 2014 at 11:24 am

    One problem, the Hawks do not have to have space on 50-man reserve list to sign Hayes, Johns or any of the others. Any contracts signed are/can be futures contracts and don’t go into effect until after the season. The players will sign ATOs so they can play for Rockford. Only if and that is IF, the Hawks want to play them in Chicago, would the contracts be for this season.

  • February 24, 2014 at 11:35 am

    Which, of course, is reflected in the story where I say the Hawks have until Aug. 15 to sign players that spent 4 years in college unless they want them to play in Chicago.

  • February 24, 2014 at 11:51 am

    JS I must disagree with you regarding the statement that having depth on D making no sense. We have been lucky with injuries so far but if we had been bitten we would have been thanking Stan for the depth.

  • February 24, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    Espo, have you seen Kostka play defense? I doubt there would be a noticable drop off if you had to bring up Dahlbeck or Clendening in a pinch. Not to mention they gave up Ryan Stanton in order to keep Kostka. Some folks in Vancouver (although pretty dumb ones) think that Stanton is one of their best defenders.

    So the depth is still there. Keeping an 8th defensemen on the active roster instead of having them play every day at Rockford doesn’t make sense.

  • February 24, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    Saw somewhere the speculation that the Hawks may be interested in a trade: Bickell for Steve Ott……???? Don’t know about this just throwing it out there…….

  • February 24, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    Yeah Kostka was not very good at NHL hockey. Though his resemblance to Thor was nice for my personal amusement after having a few too many drinks and shouting THOR! at the TV.

    I would think they have to sign Stanton. The guy is a beast and “some have said” ready to make a big jump at the beginning of this year. He looks a pretty big step above the other guys on the ice with him. Literally as well… because he is huge…

  • February 24, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    AJ means Johns, not Stanton. He’s probably drinking at work and crying for Thor and got the names mixed up.

    I don’t think the Hawks will be moving Bickell. They know how important he can be.

  • February 24, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    I have been beating the drums for Steve Ott for a while now. I would absolutely love him to join the Hawks, and if it means Bickell leaves I might be okay with that too. Although I anxious to see how Bickell plays in the SCP.. Bickell might be one of the guys that brings his game to another level in the playoffs and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that for 4 million dollars a year as long as he shows up for the playoffs.

  • February 24, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    I keep Bickell, the rest of the year too. He has been injured. He was primed to take that leap and it didn’t happen for him at the beginning of the year. His contract is not “bad” yet meaning that if he finishes the year strong and has a good playoffs…I would be okay with keeping him around for 4 Million.

    I would think Ott will be in play and he isn’t going to resign in Buffalo. Maybe they would take young players in return, but I could see some team offer a better package than say a Pirri, Morin, pick combo.

  • February 24, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    I mean Johns not Stanton. Oops

  • February 24, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    Pirri and/or Morin for Steve Ott, deal! I would feel better with Ott as a 2nd line center instead of Regin any day of the week. By the way I ended up watching a IceHogs game on TV the other day. Pierre-Marc Bouchard is a beast on the AHL curcuit and LaBabrara was a solid addition too. It wouldn’t shock me if Pierre-Marc Bouchard got called up due to injury he looks like an NHL player playing in the NHL.

  • February 24, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    Bouchard had a few decent seasons before being concussed…

    Allegedly not a fan of the contact so that could make some people who are Hawks fans kind of irate.

  • February 24, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    Yup, I have seen Kostka play and I disagree with your assessment. He made mistakes like anyone but for Pete’s sake Oduya and Hjammer went thru a phase for a couple weeks before the O-limp-dick break when they were absolutely horrible. Kostka was a useful player, IMO.

  • February 25, 2014 at 6:51 am

    I don’t understand how Hayes and Johns can sign elsewhere. They were drafted by the Hawks. Kevin Hayes was taken in the first round. What is the point of drafting someone if they go to College and then sign somewhere else. The draft picks would be completely wasted.

  • February 25, 2014 at 11:19 am

    Yea, Pete I agree its major bs. If it is anyway it needs to at least be like the offer sheets. Where if that happens the team that drafted the player gets that teams picks. No drafted player (or stealing team) should be able to do that, ever.

  • February 25, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    Oduya and Hammer are the Hawks top defensive pair… You know, they take on tougher competition than the Norris winner and his buddy.

    Kostka was an 8th defensemen that was absolutely lost in the defensive zone.

  • February 25, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    Hitting the Ice Hogs game tonight in Des Moines. Will pay particularly close attention to Pierre Marc Bouchard, but I guess from what everyone says he should be dominating in the AHL.

    Sr. Brad says this often, and I tend to agree with him, that Rockford is there to instill the Hawks way…much like Detroit’s minor league team. Its not so much that winning and losing is irrelevant. Rather that getting the system right is the biggest thing in the grand scheme of things…however winning, at any level, helps breed winning. Like the Philadephia Phantoms winning the Calder Cup with Sharp, Richards and J. Carter. All of those players have won the Stanley Cup…with teams other than the Flyers…but winning helps. Thanks Philly!

  • February 25, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    Why did they waive Stanton if they would just turn around and waive Kostka (even though it was half a season away). I don’t know what they saw in Kostka. Stanton was decent and an asset. They could at least turn him around for a pick. Instead he’s a Canuck.

  • February 25, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    Heard Stan on an interview w NHLN and unless he is a complete bullish!tter he said the Hawks were done making moves and would be standing pat during the deadline. He was very excited about Reign & PMB. Specifically PMB, he had a lot of praise for him. PMB is the gem of those 2 IMO

  • February 25, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    I said that a while back… PMB will be playing for the Hawks sooner than later…
    The dude can skate/pass/handle the puck… fits in well w/ Hawks system… Just hope the guy doesn’t get rocked, and Yes – there will be nites where he/we are killed on the boards in the D zone… BUT- there could be a lot of highlight plays too!!

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