Who Can the Blackhawks Sign in Free Agency this Summer?
By Brandon Howe
After the 2023 NHL draft concludes on June 29th, the free agency period will begin soon after. July 1st is when free agency officially opens, and there may be some enticing players the Blackhawks should consider signing.
Something worth mentioning, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are both free agents this year. The Hawks have already announced that they will not be bringing back Toews and it is still unclear if he plans to retire. Kane has indicated he wants to win again and wanted to go to New York for a reason. Patrick Kane was and is ready to move on in the last phase of his career.
So, I think it's safe to say that these two legendary Hawks will not be returning this summer. It would be awesome to see them both eventually retire as Blackhawks, and in Toews case it still might happen. I imagine we will be waiting around a bit longer to find out if that is the same case with Kane.
While the team is certainly not going to be competing for the Stanley Cup this upcoming season, they are going to want to add some legitimate talent to their lackluster roster. Ideally, the Blackhawks should attempt to surround their young developing team with some veterans that can help shape them and help them play to their potential.
This list is not in any specific order, and of course some players may be looking to play on a contender and chase a cup rather than mentor a rebuilding team. This team has an abundance of cap space and will still need to reach the cap floor by the beginning of next season. They can afford to overpay on some free agents for short term contracts. Below are some of the options that are available in free agency that the Hawks could look into if both sides are interested.
1. Vladimir Tarasenko - RW - 31 years old
2022/2023 Season Stats: 69 GP, 18 G, 32 A, 50 P
Okay hear me out, I know many Hawks fans may be opposed to this signing as he was an important piece on a hated rival , the St. Louis Blues. However, he is one of the biggest names out there in the free agent market. Tarasenko was traded to the Rangers at the deadline this season and did miss some games due to injury, but he still had a productive year.
A player like Tarasenko could be a great addition to the first line to play with future #1 pick Connor Bedard to help him produce. This signing would likely be short term and Tarasenko would probably want another chance on a competitive team, so Hawks fans shouldn't hold their breath over singing him.
2. Sean Monahan - C, LW/RW - 28 years old
2022/2023 Season Stats: 25 GP, 6 G, 11 A, 17 P
Monahan is a younger player and could be an interesting addition, whether it be short term or long term. Due to a groin surgery that he underwent surgery for, he only played 25 games this season. In those 25 games, he was relatively productive on a Montreal team that was near the bottom of the standings. Signing Monahan to a short-term deal after missing the previous season could help him get a longer deal elsewhere, unless he enjoys Chicago and decides to stay.
3. Gustav Nyquist - LW/RW - 33 years old
2022/2023 Season Stats: 51GP, 11 G, 16 A, 27P
Admittedly, this signing may not move the needle quite as much as the previous two, but it could still be beneficial. Nyquist also missed a good chunk of the season due to injury and was traded from Columbus to the Wild during the season. Nyquist's previous contract had a cap hit of 5.5 AAV, given his age and level of production it is unlikely he is going to demand that much on the open market. This could be a short-term veteran for the Hawks and a potential trade asset at the deadline if desired.
4. Tyler Bertuzzi - LW/RW - 28 years old
2022/2023 Season Stats: 50 GP, 8 G, 22 A, 30 P
Bertuzzi is in a somewhat similar situation as Monahan, they're the same age and were both injured for part of the season but productive. Bertuzzi was traded to Boston at the deadline from the Red Wings and could be another intriguing signing for the Hawks this free agency. He is still young enough to be able to stick around to compete when this team is ready and could also benefit from a short-term deal to increase his value.
5. Shayne Gostisbehere - LD/RD - 30 years old
2022/2023 Season Stats: 75 GP, 13 G, 28 A, 41 P
Gostisbehere is a point producing defenseman who has mostly been able to provide an offensive upside, sometimes at the cost of his defensive play. Starting the season on a struggling Arizona team, Gostisbehere was traded to Carolina where he has been able to still produce in a limited role. Gostisbehere could most likely be signed by the Hawks in a short-term deal and help the young team produce, since there are not many offensive defensemen on the team. He is also (once again) another possible trade deadline piece if they wanted to go that route.
There are plenty of other quality players available this summer in free agency, this list highlights a couple of the most significant players that could potentially be signed if both sides agree. I think that any one of these players would improve this team and help provide a veteran presence to a group that has very little. We will have to see what happens at the draft, and from there Kyle Davidson can decide which free agents he can sign that will have the greatest impact on this team.