Free Agency

Chicago Blackhawks’ Low-Cost Free Agent Targets

By Colin Likas
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Feb 18, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mark Arcobello (33) passes the puck against the New York Rangers at the Air Canada Centre. New York defeated Toronto 4-2. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /

Mark Arcobello, RW (UFA)

The journeyman is about to be 28 years old and could benefit from some stability. He played with four different teams in the 2014-15 season. He was paid $1.1 million last season by Toronto and didn’t do a whole lot offensively (four points in 20 games), but he’s above water for his career in possession and fares well in faceoffs (50.9 percent for his career) despite not being a natural center.

Gabriel Bourque, LW (UFA)

A Kruger-like player who started just 29.3 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone last season. He made less than $900,000 last season and fills a positional need the Blackhawks need filled — albeit with a guy who doesn’t produce much offensively (four points in 23 games last season).

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Brad Boyes, RW (UFA)

The 34-year-old is officially on the downside of his career after posting just 24 points in 60 games and playing less than 12 minutes a night last season in Toronto. Of course, the Maple Leafs were a mess last season, and he’s nearly even in Corsi-for over his career at near-even zone starts. He was paid just $700,000 last year.

Matt Cullen, C (UFA)

Can Cullen go another season, during which he’ll turn 40 years old? It seems like the answer is yes. He played all 106 games in Pittsburgh last season, posting 20 goals and 18 assists. He also started just 36 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone. For this, he received Byng and Selke trophy votes, and at just $800,000.

Danny DeKeyser, D (RFA)

I thought of DeKeyser as an unlikely possibility for the Blackhawks prior to signing Campbell, so with the latter now in the fold, it’s even more unlikely DeKeyser would be a Blackhawk. Plus, DeKeyser’s previous contract paid him about $2.2 million a season. But Stan Bowman is occasionally a wizard … maybe just not this much of one.

Mathew Dumba, D (RFA)

Pretty much in the same line of thought as DeKeyser, though at less money (his cap hit was less than $900,000 last season). But he’s still a free agent, and one that would be interesting to see as a Blackhawk, so I tossed him on here. Just don’t expect it to happen.

Bobby Farnham, LW (UFA)

Farnham is not a guy who has a lot of NHL experience. The New Jersey forward has been in the league for parts of just two seasons at age 27, collecting eight goals and 97 penalty minutes in 53 games last season.  He’s pretty much a sliiiiightly higher upside version of Tootoo, but his career possession stats are so bad (44.1 percent Corsi-for) that the Blackhawks really can’t be going after him.

Justin Fontaine, RW (UFA)

This is a guy who’s been a solid, if unspectacular, bottom-six player for Minnesota the last three seasons. He had a bit of a dropoff from 2014-15, when he tallied 31 points, netting just 16 in 60 games last season. But he’s of a smaller build (5-10, 174) and has speed, which would be good news for Chicago. On the other end, his career Corsi-for is a week 47.3 percent. At a cap hit of just $1 million last season, though, who knows?

Sam Gagner, C (UFA)

Blackhawks fans remember Gagner as the guy who had an eight-point game against Chicago while with Edmonton. Gagner dealt with injury issues last season in Philadelphia, posting just 16 points in 53 games. The soon-to-be 27-year-old has been a relatively stable scoring and faceoff presence in his career prior to the previous season, but talking him down far enough from his $4.8 million cap hit last season may not be easy.

Paul Gaustad, C (UFA)

This guy has sat on Nashville’s bottom six the last few seasons and eaten up faceoffs. His playing time has steadily decreased since arriving in Nashville (from 15:13 in 2013 to 11:15 last season), but he’s won draws at a 57.3 percent clip in Honky Tonk, mostly by way of bum slaying. If the 34-year-old is willing to take a bump down from his $3.25M cap hit last season, he could be the Blackhawks’ third-/fourth-line center.

Eric Gryba, D (UFA)

I wouldn’t advise the Blackhawks go after a big blueliner much more known for physicality (more than 60 penalty minutes and 130 hits each of the last three seasons) than scoring or possession dominance (29 career points; 48.4 percent career Corsi-for). He can eat minutes and he’s just 28 years old, but the Blackhawks might feel good enough about what they already have on defense to steer clear of Gryba.

Next: 11 More Free Agents Of Interest

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