Leading up to the free agent frenzy on July 1st the Chicago Blackhawks were one of the most active teams dealing forwards Troy Brouwer and Tomas Kopecky and in the most shocking deal of the offseason the ‘Hawks sent Brian Campbell to the Florida Panthers.
After those deals it seemed clear that the Blackhawks would be major players as free agency hit and general manager Stan Bowman did not disappoint. Before free agency even hit the Hawks traded for the rights of rugged defenseman Steve Montador and were able to re-sign him to a four-year deal worth $11 million.
In Montador the ‘Hawks have added a bit of toughness along their back line as well as a defenseman who is willing to get down and block shots, something the Hawks have sorely missed since the departure of Brent Sopel.
Next on the ‘Hawks checklist was adding some grit and veteran leadership to their bottom lines. To fit that bill the ‘Hawks went out and added veteran tough guy Jamal Mayers and agitator extraordinaire Daniel Carcillo. Mayers and Carcillo figure to fill in the bottom pairing and it is possible that Mayers could fill in at center on the fourth line.
When the Carcillo signing was reported many Blackhawks fans were disappointed by the choice as throughout his career Carcillo has been seen as a hindrance to his team on the ice but the fact of the matter is that Carcillo is more of a hockey player than last years agitator John Scott.
Along with Carcillo and Mayers the ‘Hawks also added another rugged veteran in defenseman Sean O’Donnell. O’Donnell looks to be another solid addition to the ‘Hawks back end that was questionable at time last season.
Finally the major catch of the day, in my opinions, for the Blackhawks was veteran forward Andrew Brunette. Brunette signed a one year deal worth $2 million and for a player who potted 18 goals and 46 points that is a relative bargain. The biggest downsides to the Brunette signing is how he will fit into the ‘Hawks top six forwards because of his slow foot speed and age.
Although Brunette is not what he once was he will be a stabilizing force in the ‘Hawks dressing room and can play in the dirty areas.
However even after all these signings the ‘Hawks still have nearly $9 million left under the salary cap. Will that $9 million it is likely the. ‘Hawks will look to get their three restricted free agents, Campoli, Frolik and Stalberg under contract but it is also possible that they may be in the market for another center.
One option might be through the trade market and a team that might be willing to make a deal would be the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres have been on a spending spree since free agency started and find themselves nestled close to the cap.
Now the Sabres could bury a few of their high ticket, low producing players into the minors but would still need to pay said players. Another route the Sabres could take is that they could look to deal a higher ticket player to get under the cap, this is where the Blackhawks come in.
One of the players the Blackhawks could be interested in as a possible target would be center Jochen Hecht. The 34-year-old Hecht has been a solid contributor at the NHL level, in 764 games Hecht has recorded 441 points and could be a solid contributor for the Hawks as a 2nd or 3rd line center.
The biggest detraction from Hecht’s game as a center-man is his ability at the face-off dot in which he has never cracked 50%, which is an area the ‘Hawks struggled mightily last season. Hecht may not be an exact fit for the ‘Hawks needs at center but would another productive veteran the ‘Hawks could use at the center ice position.
After a big week for the Chicago Blackhawks, there is likely still more to come and whether that means the ‘Hawks go out and trade for another piece or add a piece via free agency it seems as though there will be more to come.