Did the Chicago Blackhawks Make a Mistake by Letting Pius Suter Leave in Free Agency?

The Chicago Blackhawks let him walk in free agency in the summer of 2021. Now he is having a productive NHL career.
Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Blackhawks host the best team in hockey, the Vancouver Canucks at the United Center.

Vancouver boasts the best offense in the NHL while the Blackhawks have the league's worst. The Canucks also have a couple of former Blackhawks that are helping them stand at the top of the Western Conference. Sam Lafferty has 10 goals and 10 assists for the Canucks. Although the veteran forward has been a healthy scratch on some nights.

Pius Suter is another former Blackhawk returning to the United Center. The Hawks got something back for Lafferty's departure from the team. He was traded before last year's trade deadline along with Jake McCabe to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a 2025 first-round pick, 2026 second-round pick, and forward Joey Anderson. The Hawks lost Suter for nothing.

Previous management decided not to make him a qualifying offer in the summer of 2021. Suter ended up signing with the Detroit Red Wings that offseason after he produced 27 points (14 goals and 13 assists) during his rookie season in Chicago.

He scored 29 goals and 31 assists in two seasons with the Red Wings before signing a two-year deal with the Canucks this past offseason.

Suter is currently skating on the Canucks second line and second power-play unit for a team loaded with talent. Pius has 19 points on the season. Not exactly All-Star numbers, but considering how bad the Hawks' offense is, the team could use his production. His 12 goals would rank him third on the Blackhawks and he would be fifth on the team in points.

That is why it is worth pondering whether was it a mistake to let Suter walk for nothing.

The 2021 offseason was the famous summer when former general manager Stan Bowman decided he did not want to go through a rebuild. Instead, he traded for and gave a huge contract to defenseman Seth Jones. He also traded for goalie Marc Andre-Fleury. Finally, he signed Tyler Johnson to a deal with a $5 million salary cap hit.

That would also be the last offseason Bowman would have in charge as he would step down in October of 2021 in the wake of the fallout from the Kyle Beach scandal.

At the time, the Hawks were actually solid at wing. The Blackhawks still had Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat, Dominik Kubalik, and Brandon Hagel. Plus, Kirby Dach, Phillip Kurashev, and Mackenzie Entwistle were still in the early stages of their NHL careers.

So letting Suter seek other opportunities made sense at the time. Plus, Kyle Davidson replaced Bowman as general manager. He ended up trading away pretty much any player worth of value to build up a pile of draft picks for a much-needed rebuild. Suter would likely have been traded during that time.

That is why it is not the end of the world he was allowed to leave in free agency. The only thing that would have been nice was to get some trade compensation, but the return probably would have been minimal.