Now what for the Blackhawks?

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.

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Interesting Rumor day for the Blackhawks

When I went to bed last night (Sunday), I was under the impression that it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that Zach Parise would be signing with the Penguins today. I also thought that the Hawks were no longer in contention to sign Ryan Suter, and that they had a much better chance of inking Martin Brodeur. Well today flipped my world, and I am sure many others’, upside down.

I woke up this morning only to find out that Brodeur had re-signed with the Devils for 2 years. At this point, I had lost all hope that the Hawks would be making any big moves this summer.

Later in the morning, Hockeybuzz.com began reporting that the Blackhawks had emerged as major contenders to sign Zach Parise. This seemingly came out of NOWHERE to me. A little while after that, the same website reported that the Blackhawks were again definitely “in” on Ryan Suter. So now, in just a few short hours, all of my thoughts and opinions on this whole free agent situation had completely changed.

As of this moment, according to many sources on Twitter and Hockeybuzz.com, the Blackhawks are still in the running for both Suter and Parise. Parise came out earlier this evening and said he wants to talk with his family before making a decision as to where he will sign. It sounds like we won’t know that decision until sometime tomorrow, but who knows…

Ryan Suter’s decision could come at any moment it would appear. I wouldn’t be surprised if he waited until tomorrow, at the earliest, to make his decision based on the way things have been going the past 36 hours.

Odds are that the Hawks won’t sign both players. That would require way more money than they have to offer. If they are able to sign one of the two, it would greatly improve their team. Parise would add yet another lethal, offensive threat to their lineup, while Suter would provide some much needed defense and offense to their blue line.

I would recommend checking out Hockeybuzz.com to get the latest information regarding Parise, Suter, and other free agents in the NHL.

I’ll be crossing my fingers that Parise and/or Suter will be a Blackhawk by the time this is all said and done with.

Blackhawks Update

With NHL draft now behind us, we can really start to speculate as to what types of moves the Blackhawks will be making this summer. Whether they make trades, sign free agents, or do both (most likely), one thing is for sure. The Hawks will begin next season with some new names on their roster.

About a month or so ago, there were rumors going around that the Hawks would be looking to trade away Dave Bolland and Niklas Hjalmarsson. The reasoning for these proposed moves was that the Blackhawks felt Kruger could take Bolland’s spot as a shut-down center, and trading away both of those salaries would free up a lot of cap space to sign top free agents. As of right now, I am not hearing any rumors involving a Dave Bolland trade. Whether or not it stays that way, only time will tell. As for the possibility of Niklas Hjalmarsson departing via a trade, that remains very true.

Just about everywhere I have looked regarding a trade involving Hjalmarsson has indicated that the Blackhawks are aggressively looking to trade him for most likely a center who can win face-offs. As we all know, the Blackhawks were not very good at winning their draws last year, with the exception of Jonathan Toews. One rumor I saw stated that the Hawks were talking with the Ottawa Senators about a trade that would send Hjalmarsson to Ottawa in exchange for Zack Smith. Smith is a 24 year old center who has won over 50% of his face-offs throughout his career. This trade makes sense for both teams in that Ottawa needs a defensive-defenseman like Hjalmarsson, and the Hawks need a center who can consistently win face-offs. I heard about this trade about a week or so ago, but I have not heard anything more about it. The only thing that do know for sure is that Hjalmarsson is very much so still on the trade block.

After the Hawks resigned Johnny Oduya for $3.5 million, it sure looked like they wouldn’t be in on trying to sign Ryan Suter this summer. However, that was before all of the Niklas Hjalmarsson rumors began to appear. If the Hawks do end up trading Hjalmarsson before July 1 (the day free agency opens), they will for sure be in on the “Suter Sweepstakes.” If they do not trade him before July 1, then don’t expect them to trade him at all. The only reason they would trade “Hammer” would be to free up a roster spot and cap space for Ryan Suter. Otherwise, it would make no sense to trade away their best shot-blocker. If the Blackhawks do find the right deal that would send Hjalmarsson elsewhere to allow themselves to bid on Suter, I would be all for it. Ryan Suter is exactly what the Blackhawks need. He is a superior defensive-defenseman, as well as a superior offensive-defenseman. It’s no secret that the Hawks want a lot more production out of their powerplay next season, and Ryan Suter would greatly help in that area. But again, unless Hjalmarsson gets traded between now and Sunday, don’t expect him to get traded at all, or for the Hawks to go after Suter.

As for Patrick Kane…..I don’t think he’ll be traded. The only elite winger that is being shopped by their current team is Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets. While I do see some upsides to trading Kane for Nash, I don’t think it will happen. The biggest reason is the fact that the Blue Jackets’ asking price for Nash seems to be too high for just about every team in the NHL. They want more than just a Patrick Kane-type player in return, and that “more” is something that the Hawks and most other teams are unwilling to give up. So if you want my opinion, don’t read too much into those rumors.

Neither Zach Parise nor Roberto Luongo will be playing for the Hawks next year, so forget about that.

Other than that, I don’t have much else to say. The one guy that I really felt would fit the Hawks perfectly was Jarret Stoll. He is a center for the Kings who wins the majority of his draws and is not afraid to throw his body around, not to mention his offensive skills. He played a huge roll for the Kings these playoffs. He could have chosen to enter free agency this summer, but instead he re-signed with L.A. for less money than he could have gotten somewhere else.

Keep your eyes and ears open here in the next week. If they Hawks are going to do anything significant, it will happen between now and Sunday.

Thanks for reading.

Ryan Suter to the Blackhawks?

I’ve been wondering about the possibility of this happening ever since the beginning of this season. Could Ryan Suter really sign with the Blackhawks this summer?

Believe it or not, there is a chance that the unrestricted free agent could be a Hawk next season. After reading up on this topic online multiple times, and watching NHL analysts on TV talk about where Suter might land, here is what I have learned about the Hawks’ possibility of signing him:

  • One of the big factors that will play into Suter’s decision as to where he will sign this summer is his family. He wants to play for an NHL team that is close to his hometown of Madison, WI, so that he can be near his family. Well, guess what? The closest NHL arena to Madison is located on West Madison Street in Chicago (irony?).
  • His uncle, Gary Suter, spent a number of seasons with the Blackhawks and still has a good relationship with the team. Ryan Suter grew up a Hawks fan because of this as well.
  • The Blackhawks have a solid, core group of young players (that have already won a Cup), which is appealing to any free agent. With the addition of Suter, they would have 3 defenseman who could be considered a number 1 defenseman on most teams. While this might seem like a turnoff to a star player like Suter who most likely wants to be “the guy” wherever he goes, it could also increase his desire to come to Chicago. His minutes would be slightly decreased, but that would help to prolong his career. The amount of pressure on Suter to perform at a Norris Trophy-type level would be reduced as well. Also, with 3 top defenseman of Keith, Seabrook, and Suter, the Hawks would instantly become a better team.
  • Suter will be demanding a large amount of money with his new contract. Most likely, he’ll end up getting anywhere from 6-8 million wherever he signs. A lot of teams have the money to sign him, but only a couple of them are on his “list.” If Nicklas Lidstrom decides to hang up the skates this summer, Detroit will be looking to fill his place with a top end defenseman. Were this to happen, the Wings would have that much more money to go out and spend since they would no longer have Lidstrom’s contract. They could spend it on Suter, or they can use it to resign key players such as Datsyuk, Franzen, and Zetterberg in the future. That’s a tough decision for them to have to make. As for the Hawks, if they do not resign Oduya and decide to trade away someone like Bolland or Hjalmarsson, they would have more than enough money to sign Suter.

It definitely seems possible that Ryan Suter could be calling Chicago his new home come training camp. While I still wouldn’t give it the best odds, this is something that Blackhawks fans should pay attention to. The Hawks have a lot of decisions to make this off-season. Will they trade some key players to free up cap space, which they would then use on free agents? Will they stay put and try to get better by developing their prospects? These are questions that only time will answer. Hopefully, time will provide us with an answer that pleases us all. But that’s a lot to ask for, right?