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Editorials

Chicago Blackhawks: Free Agency Wishlist

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Feb 19, 2017; Buffalo, NY, USA; Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville watches play from behind the bench during the first period against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 19, 2017; Buffalo, NY, USA; Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville watches play from behind the bench during the first period against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports /
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Blackhawks must be active during Free Agency

The one thing in life that is always guaranteed is change. In back-to-back off-seasons, Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has promised change to the franchise and he has more than delivered on that promise.

From roster turnover to changes on the coaching staff throughout the franchise, the Blackhawks have been looking to reinvent themselves back to the top of the NHL dominant team that they have been for the better part of a decade.

July 1st, 2017 is another opportunity to bring about changes to the roster and make the Blackhawks bona-fide Stanley Cup contenders once again.

This off-season has been one of the most interesting in recent years, from the Vegas Golden Knights Expansion Draft, hosting the NHL Entry Draft, blockbuster trades, and the health concerns of Marian Hossa, the Blackhawks are in a position they have not been in a good while: vulnerable.

After being swept by the Nashville Predators, there were plenty that needed to be address with the franchise and on the Eve of NHL Free Agency, where do the Blackhawks stand?

Blackhawks Needs

NHL-Ready Top-six defenseman

After trading

Niklas Hjalmarsson

to the Arizona Coyotes for

Laurent Dauphin

and

Connor Murphy

, the Blackhawks are in desperate need to fill their blue-line with players ready to go on day one. Murphy has the opportunity to be a solid top-four option and the Blackhawks want him to play that role, but outside of Murphy,

Duncan Keith

, and

Brent Seabrook

(for the time being), the Blackhawks are thin on defense.

More from Editorials

  • Mid-line center
    • Marcus Kruger is all but gone once the NHL Free Agency period begins. After receiving a $2 million dollar bonus on July 1, Kruger will be dealt by the Blackhawks. That will leave a big hole to fill in the bottom-six at the Center position. While Tanner Kero took a major step last season in his NHL development, he is better suited for a fourth-line role. Artem Anisimov is a second-line center on nearly any team in the league, but if the Blackhawks found a player who was an upgrade at the face-off dot and could produce 40-50 points, Anisimov would be a great option in a third-line role.
  • Bottom-six scoring wing
    • The Blackhawks will be able to produce plenty of offense from their top-six forward group. A mixture of Jonathan Toews, Brandon Saad, Patrick Kane, Richard Panik, Nick Schmaltz, and Anisimov will be able to carry a large offensive load next season, but any team that is going to contend for a Stanley Cup needs reliable secondary scoring. While Ryan Hartman had 19 goals last season as a primarily third-line player, there are few options to be reliable point producers in the bottom-six forward group. There is a possibility that much-hyped prospect Alex DeBrincat will play at the NHL level this season in a top-nine forward position, but it is not a given that he is the next Calder Memorial winner.
  • Check It Out: Blackhawks, Gagner a Fit For Right Price

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