Every team will be looking at making the proper additions this offseason. Some will do so in an attempt to get over the hump in terms of contending for a Stanley Cup. Others will do so in an attempt to climb out of a lottery position. In the case of the Chicago Blackhawks it’s a bit of the latter (they placed 21st in the NHL this past season), but also because the team has players who may or may not be back, key injury concerns, leaders who are aging out of the league and young pieces that need a bit of help.
It’s not clear if the Blackhawks will be active on the free agent market, but if they are, speculation is they may choose to be selective. They’ve bought low in the past and have an number of internal contracts they want to look at. Fortunately, none of those internal deals should stop them from adding if the right fits are out there.
Phil Thompson of The Chicago Tribune took a look at some options, starting with getting a deal done with unrestricted free agent Vinnie Hinostroza. Thompson noted that Hinostroza came via trade from the Florida Panthers, and he posted four goals and eight assists and a plus-2 rating (third best on the team) in 17 games. He has a $1 million cap hit this season and the Blackhawks would likely look to bring him back.
From there, the organization has just under $11 million in LTIR salary relief from Brent Seabrook and Andrew Shaw next season. Thompson wonders if the team feels like they’ll have enough money to chase after names like defensemen Dougie Hamilton or Tyson Barrie. Both will be commanding fairly high salaries on long-term deals after strong 2020-21 campaigns.
Thompson suggests the Blackhawks would show interest in Toronto Maple Leafs forward Zach Hyman, but again, he’ll be an expensive add for whatever team ultimately gets a deal done with the ultra-popular forward. Thompson then threw out the Alexander Wennberg as an option from the Florida Panthers — he had a cap hit of $2.25 million and is due for a raise after notching 17 goals and 12 assists in 56 games.
What If the Blackhawks Don’t Want to Spend Big Money?
The scribe suggests that GM Stan Bowman may decide not to spend big bucks and try to find value contracts in a flat cap market. If that’s the game plan, Arizona Coyotes winger Michael Bunting, could be an interesting option. Bunting has spent most of the past six seasons in the AHL, but he joined the Coyotes in March and put up 10 goals and three assists in 21 games. Mike Reilly is a smaller defenseman (6-1, 200 pounds), but he has helped the Boston Bruins and carried a cap hit of just $1.5 million.
At forward, Tampa Bay Lighting winger Blake Coleman may be a cap casualty. He scored 14 goals and had 17 assists in 55 games, but he’s more known for his prowess as a defensive forward. Finally, the Detroit Red Wings will need to make a decision on Luke Glendening who could be a bargain one-year rental. Thompson writes, “Glendening was an alternate captain and would enhance the locker room culture.”
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