The Chicago Blackhawks have made a plethora of changes to their roster since beginning their rebuild last season, and this is a trend that should continue during the 2023 Offseason. As a result of this, let’s discuss four Blackhawks who likely will not be back for the 2023-24 campaign.
At the beginning of the regular season, the Blackhawks claimed Jarred Tinordi off of waivers from the New York Rangers. Since then, the 31-year-old defenseman has been playing the best hockey of his eight-year NHL career, as he has set new career highs with two goals, six assists, and eight points. This has been good to see from the 6-foot-6 defenseman, but when noting that he is a pending unrestricted free agent (UFA) and the Blackhawks are rebuilding, they will likely let him walk.
It is also important to note that the Blackhawks have young left-shot defensemen like Alex Vlasic and Isaak Phillips who they will likely want to give more NHL chances to in 2023-24. Therefore, it would make sense to move on from Tinordi this summer instead of having him block young talent from making the NHL. Some teams who I could see pursue Tinordi this offseason include the Calgary Flames, Washington Capitals, New York Islanders, and Ottawa Senators.
Jujhar Khaira is another pending UFA that the Blackhawks will likely move on from. The 28-year-old forward just does not seem to be a long-term fit in their rebuild, and there could be some teams willing to add him to their fourth line. Keep in mind, while playing at his best, Khaira is a solid bottom-six forward who is reliable defensively and plays a physical game. With that, he has chipped in a little offensively this season, as he has four goals and 12 points in 41 games played.
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However, when noting that the Blackhawks have multiple prospects and young players who could take Khaira’s spot in their bottom six next season, it seems likely that they will let him walk away this summer.
Andreas Athanasiou seemed like a solid rental candidate for the Blackhawks at the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline, but they opted to keep him around for the remainder of the season. Although they did not move him, it seems unlikely that they will re-sign him this offseason, as he is 28 years old and does not mesh well with their current rebuild.
Athanasiou should land another one-year contract from an NHL club this offseason, as he has quietly had a solid season with Chicago. In 69 games on the year, the Ontario native has 14 goals to go along with 13 assists. With numbers like these, he should be a decent addition to another team’s third line, as he is a proven secondary scorer. With that, his ability to play all three forward positions helps raise his value, too.
Before the deadline passed, the Blackhawks traded franchise legend Patrick Kane to the New York Rangers – marking the end of an unforgettable era. Jonathan Toews was also expected to be dealt, but long COVID symptoms and his Chronic Immune Response Syndrome have sidelined him since late January. Now, there’s a chance that we have seen him play his last NHL game, as The Daily Herald’s John Dietz reported that the veteran center is believed to be seriously considering retirement.
With this news, it is very likely that Toews will not be a part of the Blackhawks’ roster in 2023-24. Perhaps a role off the ice with the organization could be in the cards, as he is one of the greatest players in their history.
If Toews officially decides to call it quits, he has put together a spectacular career. In 1,060 career games, all with Chicago, he has 371 goals, 509 assists, 880 points, and a plus-155 rating. With that, he is a three-time Stanley Cup winner, one-time Selke Trophy winner, one-time Conn Smythe Trophy winner, and a six-time All-Star.
Nevertheless, it will be intriguing to see what roster moves the Blackhawks end up doing this offseason. It is clear that these four players are likely to be gone next year, and Toews is of course the most notable of the bunch. With that, other pending UFAs who could be on different teams next season include Buddy Robinson, Andreas Englund, Alex Stalock, and Anton Khudobin.