It’s been 4 days since NHL free agency opened on July 5th, and many players have found a prosper future with a new NHL club. Since the flood of signings on day one, the action has died down quite a bit, leaving many solid players still available for teams to take a run at. Below are three players that would make a good fit in Chicago.
- #1: Adam Henrique
May 25, 2012; Newark, NJ, USA; New Jersey Devils center Adam Henrique (14) celebrates his game-winning goal during the first overtime period in game six of the 2012 Eastern Conference finals at the Prudential Center. The Devils defeated the Rangers 3-2 to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Adam Henrique is an RFA with the New Jersey Devils. He rose to fame after scoring two Game Seven overtime winning goals in the Devils’ 2012 playoff run, including the one pictured above, which sent them to the Stanley Cup Final. Henrique finished the 2013 regular season with 11 goals and 16 points in 42 games. He could fit in on the Blackhawks’ bottom six, or make an appearance on the second line if aging pivot Michal Handzus is not up to the task. Henrique could be very affordable, if he is willing to take a pay cut in order to playt for a successful club. Henrique has not signed a contract extension with the Devils to this point, but he has been issued a qualifying offer. This means that the Blackhawks would have to use an offer sheet on the 27-year old. If Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman is not ready for the Brandon Pirri era to begin in the Windy City, he could use Henrique for some assistance in the center position. With Marcus Kruger yet to be signed however, this doesn’t seem likely.
May 12, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs center Mikhail Grabovski (84) drives to the net with the puck against the Boston Bruins during game six of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs at the Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs beat the Bruins 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Mikhail Grabovski’s five-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs was bought out after just one year, and the 29-year old voiced his displeasure with head coach Randy Carlyle. Grabovski’s last year in Toronto saw him rack up 9 goals and 16 points in all 48 games. Grabovski believes he should be in a top-six role, and he would be very effective centering the Blackhawks’ second line. He is a speedy forward, and his style of play suits the Blackhawks’ skilled lineup card very well. Grabovski is looking for a long-term contract, but he may be swayed into signing a one-or two year deal if he believes the Blackhawks have what it takes to bring home another championship in that time. Stan Bowman would have to act quickly, however; Grabovski’s agent says that there are ‘several teams’ interested in his client.
#3: Damien Brunner
May 27, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Red Wings center Damien Brunner (24) prepares to take a shot as Chicago Blackhawks goalieCorey Crawford
(50) goes for the save in the third period in game six of the second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Damien Brunner was cut loose from the Detroit Red Wings after his rookie season, and is now on the free agent market. Brunner is a flashy center who can play on the powerplay, a big plus for the ‘Hawks. The 28-year old scored 12 goals and 26 points in his first NHL season. Brunner made his presence felt early in the season with a couple of Patrick Kane-esque shootout moves, both of which won the game for the Wings. Brunner is ready for a new challenge, and he will be willing to sign for a small, short-term contract going in to his sophomore season in the league. He would fit in on a bottom-six role with the Blackhawks, and he could help keep up the great depth that the Blackhawks had in 2013.
Lots of time may be left in the dog days of summer, but there may not be too many days remaining until these young, energetic pivots are snatched up by other NHL club. The Blackhawks’ future relies on Stan Bowman to make key moves and assemble the roster in time for their title defense to begin in October.
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