Today was a huge day in the hockey world. Both Ryan Suter AND Zach Parise signed huge contacts with the Minnesota Wild. Each contract is for 13 years at approximately $98 million apiece. Prior to today, the Blackhawks had been linked to both Suter and Parise as a potential destination. Unfortunately for us Hawks fans, that obviously didn’t happen. So the question now becomes, what should the Hawks do next?
It was no secret that the Hawks wanted to improve their defense this offseason. They made a strong push for Ryan Suter, but that did not pan out. The next best available free agent defenseman is Matt Carle, who played his last 4 seasons in Philadelphia. It would be huge if the Hawks could bring him into the organization, however it does not appear that will happen. After Carle, the caliber of free agent defenseman remaining really weakens. My guess is that if the Hawks do add another defenseman, it will be through a trade.
Aside from defenseman, the two biggest free agent forwards remaining are Shane Doan and Alex Semin. Shane Doan has been the captain of the Phoenix Coyotes for a number of years now (I don’t know the exact number). He has averaged in the mid 50’s for points throughout his 16-year career, tallying 50 last season. Despite his age (35), he still has a lot to offer. He is a born leader and a positive influence on and off the ice. Aside from his ability to lead and tally points, Doan is a physical presence on the ice. Last season, he registered 205 hits. The hit leader for the Blackhawks, Brent Seabrook, had 198. If the Hawks can sign Doan, they will be adding both an offensive and physical player to their lineup, both of which would really strengthen their team.
Alex Semin is one of the most talented players in the NHL. He has the ability to score 40 goals in a season, as he did just a couple of years ago. The drawback with Semin is his attitude/personality. Apparently, he is not the greatest teammate in the league, nor is he the best player to coach. With the Hawks having had some friction in the locker room and amongst the coaching staff the past couple of years, they really don’t want to bring in a possible problem-maker in Semin. However, if they could find a way to make it work with Semin, he would be a huge addition to the Hawks’ roster.
Unfortunately, neither Doan nor Semin are centers. Arguably the Hawks biggest need is a number 2 center. There are a handful of free agent centers still available, but none of them are standouts. If the Hawks are going to add a good center to their roster, it will most likely be through a trade. I don’t know who they might try and trade for, but my guess is that they will attempt to trade for a number 2 center.
As for Rick Nash, the only way the Hawks will get him is by trading Kane, and I doubt that will happen. They are more likely to sign Doan or Semin than they are to acquire Rick Nash.
According to hockeybuzz.com, the Hawks have shown some interest in goaltender Jonathan Bernier of the L.A. Kings. This is something to keep your eye on moving forward. Although it is unlikely, the Hawks would like to upgrade at goalie.
Clearly, it is not easy to predict what might happen in the near future for the Hawks, but there is nothing wrong with speculating.
Thanks for reading.