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Editorials

Tracking Chicago Blackhawks’ Upcoming Free Agents’ Staying Power

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ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 6: Ryan Hartman
ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 6: Ryan Hartman /
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CHICAGO, IL – MARCH 21: Christopher Tanev
CHICAGO, IL – MARCH 21: Christopher Tanev /

Ryan Hartman

I don’t think there’s much question the Blackhawks like what they see in Hartman. He’s essentially Andrew Shaw with better hands, better vision and less of a temper (though it did flare at times late last season). He’s also just 22, so there’s room for him to get even better.

The big question with Hartman rests in how well he’ll perform in his contract season, specifically because it could wind up costing the Blackhawks if the answer is “really well.” Hartman played a nice role in the offense last season with 31 points in 76 games. Does he match that in 2017-18? Surpass it? Fall short?

Two of those answers show great promise for the Blackhawks while also costing them financially. Hartman’s current cap hit of $863,333 won’t stand amid another solid campaign.

Does he return: Yes

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John Hayden

Here’s a college free agent who showed a little more promise right away. Hayden impressed enough (or the Blackhawks’ lineup was a big enough mess) that he was even seeing time alongside Jonathan Toews before the 2016-17 regular season ended.

Hayden is a big body who is willing to get to the front of the net. He also has decent enough hands. You’d be happy to have him in your bottom six if he doesn’t get “solved” in his true first season. Question is, does he wind up costing much more than his current $925,000 cap hit?

I’m going to say no, and so I see him returning to Chicago after the next offseason.

Does he return: Yes

Vinnie Hinostroza

This upcoming season is a major make-or-break one for the 23-year-old. Hinostroza brings extremely impressive speed to the table. He also has good chemistry with the likes of Hartman and a few others. Beyond that, however, he’s lacking in several important departments.

He’s a small body who gets worked off the puck pretty easily. He doesn’t win faceoffs at any sort of consistent rate. He looks lost in the defensive zone more often than not. And he tends to hold on to the puck too long at times. These are reasons why coach Joel Quenneville‘s doghouse held Hinostroza a few times last season.

If Hinostroza starts the 2017-18 season at the NHL level and stays there (unlike last season), I think there’s a better case for him returning in the following year. His cap hit of $717,500 suggests he could return regardless. But another extended run in Q’s doghouse would see Hinostroza stored in Rockford, at best, for the foreseeable future.

Does he return: Iffy yes

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