One pending free agent the Blackhawks can steal from their Central Division rivals this summer

The Chicago Blackhawks shouldn’t be too active in free agency this summer, but there is talent from the Central Division they can sign if they’re willing.

St Louis Blues v Chicago Blackhawks
St Louis Blues v Chicago Blackhawks / Michael Reaves/GettyImages
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Kasperi Kapanen, Forward/St. Louis Blues

Kasperi Kapanen arrived in St. Louis as a waiver claim in 2022-23, and he’s been more than just a serviceable talent since. But with the Blues looking to call up some prospects into the big club full-time next season, it leaves players like Kapanen free to test the market should general manager Doug Armstrong decide not to keep him in town. 

Kapanen would give the Blackhawks a defensive-minded presence in their middle-six, and he can easily play top-six minutes if needed. He will finish nearly one check per game, get a stick on the puck to disrupt an opponent in the neutral and defensive zones, and also provide a ton of value at 4-on-5. 

He won’t provide much offense, having scored just five goals and 20 points all season in 66 games. But with Connor Bedard going into Year 2 - and perhaps even a chance to draft Macklin Celebrini should they win the draft lottery - the Blackhawks will be okay in the offensive zone.  

Thanks to Chicago’s rough year defensively this season, Kapanen would immediately make this team better and he doesn’t need to stick around long if the Blackhawks don’t want him to get in any prospect’s way. He can sign on for one to two seasons, play a sound defensive role, then continue his career elsewhere.