One dream, one realistic, and one bargain player the Blackhawks must target in NHL free agency

The Chicago Blackhawks can find one-year stopgaps and perhaps even a long-term deal or two in NHL free agency when it kicks off next month.
Nashville Predators v Chicago Blackhawks
Nashville Predators v Chicago Blackhawks / Michael Reaves/GettyImages
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Realistic Free Agent: Oliver Eckman-Larsson, Florida Panthers

As previously noted, we got a running theme here, and that involves luring someone to Chicago who has some experience with either deep playoff runs or potentially winning the Stanley Cup. Oliver Eckman-Larsson would fit that mold, and Alexander MacLean of Dobber Hockey projects him to go for a more than reasonable cap hit of $2.82 million annually

Eckman-Larsson could also sign for a modest length, giving the Blackhawks top-four or even third-pairing minutes as his age-33 season in 2024-25 progresses should Kyle Davidson succeed in signing the current Florida Panther. He brings a modest amount of offense these days, but nothing near what he logged while with the Arizona Coyotes for the first 11 years of his career. 

But productivity shouldn’t be the reason a team like the Blackhawks should be interested in landing Eckman-Larsson. Instead, it’s for his leadership and ability to shift through adversity, and that’s something the Hawks could use from a player who knows what it’s like to make a deep playoff run. 

It’s also worth noting that Eckman-Larsson could wind up back in Sunrise since it wouldn’t be tough for general manager Bill Zito to re-sign the blueliner. A lot of players won’t be returning to the Panthers organization thanks to cap constraints and their high number of free agents, so keeping more cost-effective players could be the route he rolls with. 

So if Davidson couldn’t land Eckman-Larsson, there is still one more player on this list he could sign as a bargain free agent. Ironically, he’s also someone who has seen plenty of adversity throughout his time in the NHL, but also one whose team has since landed in the Stanley Cup Final.