As opposed to trades, it’s a bit harder to evaluate free agent signings. With trades, it’s easy to compare what each player involved did in their after the trade happened. Evaluating free agent signings requires a bit more context.
What was the team hoping to accomplish when they signed the player? What role did the team expect the player to fill once he joined the team?
With this in mind, looking back at some of the Chicago Blackhawks‘ free agent signings makes them look like a comedy or a tragedy, and sometimes both at particular points in time. Remember though, hindsight is 20-20. And hindsight has left us with these five signing being the worst in Blackhawks history:
5. Matt Barnaby
During the 2004 offseason, the ’Hawks willingly overpaid for Matt Barnaby to out-bid other teams. It seems strange now, but back then Chicago wasn’t a sought-out free agent destination. Nowadays, players will take significantly less money to play for the ’Hawks. In 2004, it as the exact opposite.
Barnaby was a know agitator in the NHL. He made his NHL debut in the 1992-93 season for the Buffalo Sabres, who he would play with for more than six seasons. He then played more than three seasons for the Pittsburgh Penguins, two seasons for the Tampa Bay Lightning, three seasons for the New York Rangers and one for the Colorado Avalanche before the ’Hawks signed him.
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The ’Hawks signed Barnaby to a three-year deal at a premium price. He, nor anyone else, would play in the 2004-05 season due to the lockout. The ’Hawks didn’t lose money through that, as the contract wouldn’t kick in until the 2005-06 season.
However, considering that Barnaby was signed by the ’Hawks when he was 31-years-old, and then the lockout happened, the 3-year contract didn’t begin until Barnaby was another year removed from his most prime years. Way to go, Bill Wirtz.
Aaaand Barnaby only played one season for the ’Hawks before being bought out after the 2005-06 season. Barnaby did play all 82 games for the ’Hawks that season, recording 28 points. However, an agitator was not what the ’Hawks needed. They did not have much offense on that team, so signing a player like Barnaby to a three-year deal made and still makes no sense.
Next: Fourth-Worst Free Agent Signing