Blackhawks: 3 Remaining Free Agent Defensemen to Target

The Chicago Blackhawks have had a very busy summer, and general manager (GM) Kyle Davidson has officially started the rebuild by making several moves. However, I would argue that he should consider bringing in one more defenseman before the season, and these three remaining free agents stand out from the rest. Here’s a look at each one.

P.K. Subban

The Blackhawks have a decent amount of cap space to work with, so I hope they are willing to make one last notable move before the start of the 2022-23 season. The right-side defense could use a bit of a boost, and perhaps that could be enough for Davidson to send an offer to veteran defenseman P.K. Subban.

P.K. Subban New Jersey Devils
P.K. Subban, New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Subban would be an excellent addition to the defensive group. Although the Blackhawks are rebuilding, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to add more experience to their roster to help develop the young players. They have the cap space to give Subban a little extra, which might be enough to lure the 33-year-old to play in Chicago. The defense is weak enough that he could play top-four minutes and receive time on their first power-play unit.

Subban’s days as an elite defenseman are over, but he still can provide respectable offense from the point. Last season with the New Jersey Devils, he scored five goals and 22 points. The Blackhawks would benefit from adding that kind of production to their blue line, and he may have the potential to produce even more frequently in a bigger role.

Finally, if Subban were to ink a one-year deal and put together a strong season, he would be a great rental candidate at the deadline, and a nice trade return for the veteran would also help boost the organization’s rebuild.

Dennis Cholowski

There are only a few young defensemen left on the free agent market. However, 2016 first-round pick Dennis Cholowski stands out. The 24-year-old has had a hard time cementing himself in a full-time NHL role, and the Seattle Kraken did not send him a qualifying offer because of it. Yet, he’s still young and has the potential to change this. Perhaps joining a rebuilding club like the Blackhawks could provide him with the best chance to do just that.

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Cholowski spent this past season split between the Washington Capitals and Kraken. In 11 games, he recorded three assists. He also suited up in 31 American Hockey League (AHL) games with the Charlotte Checkers, where he scored three goals and 15 assists. The Langley native has shown signs of becoming a solid offensive defenseman, so that could be enough for Davidson to at least consider signing him.

The Blackhawks are in a perfect position to take a chance on a former top prospect like Cholowski. Sometimes defensemen need more time to develop, and this could be the season he finally takes that next step. At worst, he would be a decent depth option for the Blackhawks when injuries inevitably arise.

Calvin de Haan

The Blackhawks have moved on from players like Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome, Dominik Kubalik, and Kirby Dach this offseason. Another player from last season’s team, free agent Calvin de Haan, could also be done in Chicago. Yet, I think it would be a good idea for Davidson to bring back the veteran defenseman on a one-year, league-minimum contract instead.

Calvin de Haan, Chicago Blackhawks
Calvin de Haan, Chicago Blackhawks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

We are likely to see the Blackhawks play several of their prospects and young players this season, so having de Haan around as a mentor wouldn’t be bad at all. Furthermore, given the team’s defensive depth, it’s clear that he would still be a fit on their bottom pair.

At this point in his career, de Haan is not known for his point production. In 69 games with Chicago last season, he had four goals and four assists. Although that isn’t too impressive at first glance, he is best known for his defensive stability. Having another defensive defenseman in the mix would be wise for the Blackhawks to consider.

Nevertheless, we’ll have to wait and see if the Blackhawks decide to make a push for any of these free agents. Of the bunch, Subban would be the biggest splash, but Cholowski is also a potential low-risk, high-reward option. As for de Haan, bringing back a familiar face who has a lot of NHL experience would be great. Hopefully, Davidson can sign one of them before the 2022-23 campaign begins.

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