Should the Blackhawks Pursue Free Agent Sam Reinhart This Summer?

Chicago Blackhawks v Florida Panthers
Chicago Blackhawks v Florida Panthers / Joel Auerbach/GettyImages

With his 50th goal of the season Sunday, Florida Panthers’ winger Sam Reinhart cemented himself as this summer’s most coveted unrestricted free agent. With $66,833,334 tied up in just 13 players and a number of key players (most notably Brandon Montour) needing extensions, it is going to be difficult for the Panthers to extend Reinhart while paying him market value. The 2014 second overall pick has already posted a career-high 83 points with 11 games to play and will surely be looking for a long-term deal. As Reinhart speaks to teams leading up to July 1, should Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson pick up the phone?

With the salary cap expected to rise to $87.7 million next season, the Blackhawks are poised to have around $38,273,333 at their disposal. Davidson does not want to waste his cap space this summer, as he needs to factor in future extensions for core pieces such as Connor Bedard, Alex Vlasic, and Kevin Korchinski. However, Davidson recently said he would be willing to make a pricey, long-term offer to a free agent if it fits within the Hawks’ big picture plans.

What would a long-term contract look like for Reinhart? A close player comparable is Toronto’s William Nylander who signed an eight-year, $92 million extension this January. In 591 games, Nylander has posted 216 goals and 523 points; Reinhart has 248 goals and 527 points in 685 games. Reinhart likely won’t be able to command over $11 million per year on the open market, but it’s plausible he seeks double digits.

William Nylander, Sam Reinhart
2024 Honda NHL All-Star Game / Cole Burston/GettyImages

Handing out a contract that large to a player in his late twenties can be troublesome, as we have already seen in Chicago with the much-maligned Seth Jones. That being said, we have seen it work out for the Hawks – a 30-year-old Marián Hossa inked a 12-year deal with the Hawks in 2009, and you would be hard-pressed to find anyone in Chicago who disliked that deal.

Reinhart doesn’t have Hossa’s two-way game, and the Hawks are nowhere near the team they were in 2009, when Hossa was the missing piece that pushed them over the top to a Cup win. But the Hawks desperately need scoring (they rank dead last in team scoring at a paltry 2.20 goals-per-game), and Reinhart provides that in bunches. Even with the possible additions of Frank Nazar, Oliver Moore, and Ryan Greene in the coming seasons, the Hawks forward group still looks thin. Centering Bedard between Reinhart and Philipp Kurashev would provide the Hawks with a dynamic top-line that could keep up with the NHL’s best.

Adding Reinhart would improve the Hawks’ top-six drastically and flesh out the rest of the lineup below. If Reinhart is willing to agree to a long-term deal worth around $9-9.5 million annually, Davidson should pull the trigger.