The Chicago Blackhawks are in a sweet spot- they won the draft lottery and will have Connor Bedard on the ice soon. They also have a ton of cap space to use. They must sign some players with a cap hit to reach the league minimum. Recently, I wrote that the first player to sign is Max Domi; you can check that here. Who else would be a good fit for the Hawks and be someone who might benefit playing beside the young superstar. Along with Max Domi, these players make sense.
Andeas Athanasiou - He is just shy of 29 years old and carries a $3 million cap hit. He has not lost a step and played very well with the Hawks last year. He tallied 40 points in 81 games. He plays both center and wing. If the Blackhawks want to play Bedard at center and have Lukas Reichel and Athanasiou on the wings, it would make sense for his develop. Both Reichel and Bedard could grow together and be strong for years to come. Athanasiou could increase his trade stock in the spring.
Jonathan Drouin - Drouin has been knocking at success's door for a number of years. He put up over 50 points two times in his career but lacks consistency, most likely due to recent injuries. He is 28 years old and will likely draw about $4 to $5 million per year. He could benefit in terms of assists and goals playing alongside the prolific youngster. In the Hawks current position, there is little risk, and a nice reward.
Ryan O'Reilly - This one is certainly a long-shot and would take a little finesse. However, if Chicago would like to take some pressure off of Bedard and start him at wing, a strong center like O'Reilly could benefit him. He would likely receive $5-$6 million. His numbers dipped this past season. Playing alongside Bedard could boost those numbers and make O'Reilly a draw at the deadline. This could be a win for both parties.
Jason Zucker - Zucker is 31 years old and carried a $5.5 million cap hit. He would likely recieve just south of that this year. After a few years of mediocre production, he bounced back with a formidable 48 points last season. At 31, the window is closing; however, playing alongside Bedard could boost those numbers and land him on a team competing for the Cup. His hits were off the charts last season. Playoff teams love to see that.
Of course, sentimentally, I would love to see the Blackhawks resgin Patrick Kane to finish his career in Chicago. It seems that ship has sailed. The same goes for a Jonathan Toews return for one final season. Would be fun for the fans, but less than 0% likelihood apparently.
Another far fetched player would be Vladimir Tarasenko. He is 31 and can still score with the elite. He could really fill it up alongside Bedard and increase his chances for a Cup run. He will likely look for a four to five year deal which would be beyond what Chicago would be willing to do.
Won't be long until we find out. Who do you think the Hawks will sign?