Part of the Chicago Blackhawks’ offseason will involve the evaluation of pending free agents. In this episode of Blackhawks Business, we will take a look at a late addition to the 2020-21 Blackhawks, (RFA) forward Adam Gaudette
Adam Gaudette was a trade deadline acquisition for the ‘Hawks this season from Vancouver, in exchange for Matthew Highmore in a straight player-for-player swap. Gaudette is a big Forward with offensive skill that is heading into a critical offseason for his career. He had his best season in 2020-2021 with 12 goals and 33 points in 59 games.
Gaudette only spent 7 games with the ‘Hawks this past season but was noticeable during those 7 games. He is a bigger forward, something the Hawks have lacked in recent years and has good hands and a solid feel around the net. The coaching staff didn’t use him a lot, but he played pretty well.
Gaudette was under a 1-year contract for $950K (per Cap Friendly) after finishing his Entry-Level Contract at the end of last season. The organization traded a young player who had come up through the ‘Hawks system in Highmore, so they must have liked him as a player. As an arbitration-eligible RFA, the Hawks have a decision to make with regards to Gaudette.
What should the Blackhawks do with Adam Gaudette? Re-sign him or Move On?
The Case For Re-Signing Him
Adam Gaudette is something of a rarity in the Hawks organization. He is a bigger forward with good hands and playmaking ability. The best playmakers on the team are smaller forwards, or thinner framed taller forwards. Gaudette, now that his stomach issues are behind him, could put on 15-20 lbs of good weight this offseason, which will make him more effective down low or in front of the net.
His career to this point has not been a booming success, so the Hawks have a chance, even with arbitration, to get him at a bargain price of around $1M per season. For a player with 160 games at the NHL level (and won’t turn 25 until October) with offensive upside, that’s dirt cheap.
Adding a player like Gaudette, who can play Center and on the Wing, gives a lot of flexibility to the roster, and opens up a lot of possibilities for the forward lines. Plus, he is a right shot, which the Hawks don’t have a lot of on the roster currently.
The Case for Moving On
Gaudette has scored 30+ points in the NHL, but only one time in Vancouver, last year. Was that year the glimpse into what he could be, or was it a fluke year when the entire Canucks team overachieved?
He was a prolific scorer in NCAA college hockey (like Henrik Borgstrom, who will be discussed in a future article), scoring more than 25 goals twice in his college career, but has not translated that to the professional ranks yet.
If he isn’t able to add healthy weight, he is on the light side at 170 lbs and can get moved away from the net, and doesn’t provide the physical presence you want from a 6’1″ Forward.
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Based on ability, potential upside, and salary requirements, I think the Hawks would be wise to at minimum give a qualifying offer to Gaudette. My opinion is they should re-sign him to a 2-year deal at $1M-1.1M per season, and see if he can develop into a scoring threat in the slot, and add a bigger playmaker to the offense.