Blackhawks Free Agency / NHL Rundown

Alot has happened and alot hasn't

Vegas Golden Knights v Seattle Kraken
Vegas Golden Knights v Seattle Kraken / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

As expected the Chicago Blackhawks didn't sign that many free agents as July 1st came and went. Ryan Donato was signed for 2 years at a 2 million AAV cap hit. Donato was a player that I focued on in my free agency preview as one of the 5 forwards I thought they should target. Just 27 years old and offering line flexibility and the skating prowess the staff is looking for, Donato should fit right into the Hawks middle 6. The veteran also has shown a better tendency to find the back of the net having accumulated 30 goals over the last 145 games (regular season) with the Kraken.

Other than Ryan Donato, the main pieces of the roster were acquired via trade with (likely) top LW Taylor Hall (2 x 6m remaining), Corey Perry (traded for and then signed 1 x 4m), and former Bliue Jackets captain Nick Foligno (trade for and then signed 1 x 4m). Overall, the Hawks added 4 veteran forwards to their top 9. This will certainly now put alot of pressure on some of the Blackhawks that were trying to keep their spots from prior seasons such as Reese Johnson, Mackenzie Entwistle, Joey Anderson, Boris Katchouk, and Cole Gutman.

In terms of league news the narrative that seemed to be playing out (for me at least) were the moves by the Red Wings and Coyotes. With cash in hand, it seems both franchises are tired of drafting in the top 10.

Arizona went out day 1 and spent big time, signing Jason Zucker, Nick Bjugstad, Alex Galchenyuk, Troy Stecher, and Alex Kerfoot. While all of these signings appear to be good complimentary pieces it's still unknown if it will be enough to help Arizona reach the playoffs in 4 years (2020). I like the core players that the Coyotes have in place (Keller, Maccelli, Schmaltz, Durzi, Valimaki) however their true roster is likely still not at the NHL level (Cooley, Simashev, Geekie, Guenther, But, Soderstrom, Hrabal).

Detroit is the other team that was very aggressive right away, they signed Justin Holl. Klim Kostin, James Reimer, Daniel Sprong, JT Compher (5 x 5.1m), Christian Fisher, and Shayne Gostisbehere. Like the Coyotes, these are pieces that should help a talented roster have a more balanced team. The Red Wings have a better chance to make the playoffs than the Coyotes do however as their core of young talent is already at the NHL level (Raymond, Seider, Hronek, Rasmussen, Berggren, Zadina) with many more that could make the team this season (Edvinsson, Kasper).

Around the league, notable deals include:

> The Islanders extended Ilya Sorokin to an 8 x 8.25m deal, making him one of the highest paid goalies in the league. This deal essentially ties the net minder to the Isles for the rest of his career.

> The Anaheim Ducks signed veterans Alex Killorn and Radko Gudas to add toughness to a young team.

> The defending Presidents Cup winning Bruins will try and replace veteran forwards with veteran forwards such as Milan Lucic, James van Riemsdyk, and Kevin Shattenkirk.

> The Carolina Hurricanes appear to be going "all in" finally by resigning their goalie tandem (one of the best in the league) as well as suprisingly signing defenseman Dmitry Orlov (2 x 7.75m) and Michael Bunting (3 x 4.5m). This is likely going to be their best chance at a cup in the 23-24 season and I expect them to be alot of experts pick to enter the year.

> Cup winning center(2019 - St. Louis) Ryan O'Reilly signs a 4 x 4.5m deal with the Predators to replace Ryan Johansen whom was sent to Colorado in a cap space move. It's hard to make out how the upcoming season will go for the now-led Barry Trotz franchise, but I do expect the Predators to be a more difficult team to play against with O'Reilly in the fold.

> Lastly among the teams that made a flurry of deals, Kyle Dubas seems to have complete control over the check book in Pittsburgh as the Penguins signed: Noel Acciari, Ryan Graves, Matt Nieto, Lars Eller, and re-signed Tristian Jarry to a huge 5 x 5.375m deal. Like most teams these are "add in" pieces and not necessarily huge difference makers to a team. We will see how franchise icons Letang, Crosby, and Malkin age as these new additions try and help the team back to the playoffs.

> Recent deals (today July 2nd): Evan Rodrigues to the Panthers at 4 years x 3m. Flyers finalize their deal with Garnet Hathaway at 2 years x 2.375m. 2 year bridge deals for both Bowen Byram and Evan Bouchard look to be solidified shortly. There are of course some still notable names yet to sign such as Vladimir Tarasenko, Max Domi, and Tyler Bertuzzi.