Chicago Blackhawks’ Low-Cost Free Agent Targets

By Colin Likas
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chicago blackhawks
Apr 7, 2016; Boston, MA, USA;Detroit Red Wings center Brad Richards (17) lies on the ice after getting knocked down during the first period against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /

Brad Richards, C (UFA)

Yeah, Richards is still around, pretty much playing on one-year deals with whoever will take him. His 28 points last season were a career low, but the 36-year-old can still win some faceoffs and carry the puck up ice with the right zone starts. His sheltered minutes would be more productive than those of some other guys on the Blackhawks roster.

Tobias Rieder, C (RFA)

Not sure how Arizona can let him get away after he put up 37 points last season, and considering he fits into their growing youth plan at age 23. He would be a fine get, though, so I threw him in here.

Rasmus Ristolainen, D (RFA)

I thought he could be a Blackhawks target last offseason, but he decided to stick in Buffalo. Ristolainen is a strong offensive defenseman (41 points in 82 games last season), but he really struggles to maintain the puck, which isn’t a great look even though he starts many of his shifts in the defensive zone. As an RFA in money-free Buffalo, he’s probably staying put.

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Mike Santorelli, C (UFA)

This is a guy I could very realistically see being a late-offseason signing by the Blackhawks. Santorelli was signed by Anaheim on Aug. 17 last offseason. He’s a fine contributing player who can offer some points (18 last season), take faceoffs and control the puck at a decent rate. He’s reliable enough in both zones and cost just $875,000 last season.

Ben Smith, RW (UFA)

Okay, it’s a sentimental thing. But he’s still better than Mashinter or Tootoo.

Jarret Stoll, C (UFA)

He’s not the most appealing pick after drug issues led to his ouster in Los Angeles, and after he struggled mightily to turn play around while used in a heavily defensive role last season. But … you know … he’s a cheap player?

Michael Stone, D (RFA)

As I mentioned before with Rieder, there’s really no reason the Coyotes shouldn’t be able to hang on to Stone. But in case they can’t, the Blackhawks could swoop in and grab a budding offensive defenseman (career-high 30 assists and 36 points last season). He made just $875,000 last season.

Ryan Strome, C (RFA)

This would be a really interesting signing for the Blackhawks, as unlikely as it might be with Strome being an RFA. He’s a bigger guy (6-1, 199) who can get to all areas of the ice for scoring opportunities, play in all three aspects of the game, take a few faceoffs and use his body to his team’s advantage. After a breakout 2014-15 with the Islanders (17 goals, 50 points), Strome had just 28 points last season. Could he slip away from New York?

Alex Tanguay, LW (UFA)

Yeah, he’s still in the league. The 36-year-old of more than 1,000 career NHL games is nowhere near his prime now, but he did post 35 points in 70 games last season with Colorado and Arizona. The big issue with Tanguay is he really struggles with puck possession now (around 45.0 Corsi-for last season with primarily offensive starts). So it’s the battle of experience versus pushing the puck. The latter probably wins out.

Jiri Tlusty, C (UFA)

There was an outside chance the Hurricanes forward could’ve come to the Blackhawks at the most recent trade deadline, but that obviously didn’t happen. He had some injury troubles last season, really limiting his effectiveness. Prior to that, however, he had four consecutive seasons with double-digit goals and assists. He made just $800,000 last season.

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Kris Versteeg, RW (UFA)

I had to finish on a comedic note.