The NHL Draft and the start of Free Agency is a busy time for all NHL teams. However, there weren’t many teams that were as busy as the Chicago Blackhawks. They did a major overhaul of their roster. To recap, they made four trades to acquire Marc-Andre Fleury (Vegas Golden Knights), Seth Jones (Columbus Blue Jackets), Caleb Jones (Edmonton Oilers), and Tyler Johnson (Tampa Bay Lightning), while also signing three free agents in Adam Gaudette (Blackhawks’ re-sign), Jake McCabe (Buffalo Sabres) and Jujhar Khaira (Oilers).
On the flip side, they also said goodbye to some prominent players. Most of these moves will have a major impact on the team’s future. Our weekly show, ‘Blackhawks Banter’, our Blackhawks’ team comprised of myself, Greg Boysen and Shaun Filippelli, has a lot to dissect as we try to make sense of all the changes. Here is a preview of what will be discussed.
Out of all the Blackhawks’ moves, the one question mark centers around newly acquired goaltender Fleury. While the trade itself is exciting, there is a bit of concern as his agent Allan Walsh came out with a statement that Fleury will take some time to discuss his situation with his family and evaluate his hockey future. As of right now, he has yet to inform the team of his plans. If he chooses not to play for the Hawks, what is your play at goaltender: try to trade for another or stick with what they got in Kevin Lankinen, Malcolm Subban and Collin Delia?
Fleury not playing will have its pros and cons. The biggest pro is that you get $7 million worth of salary-cap space. That can be used to bring in another goaltender, but all the top free agents are signed with new teams, meaning a trade would need to happen.
However, no matter who you can get via trade is not going to be as good as Fleury. So, if he decides to retire or is flipped to another team like the Pittsburgh Penguins, you will probably be right back to the trio we had last season with no veteran mentor for Lankinen.
While I want to see Lankinen own the crease, as he deserves the chance to do so, I still believe bringing in a veteran presence to mentor him along comes with a host of benefits. That said, I don’t think Fleury is the type of presence needed, as he should be playing on a team contending given where he’s at in his career and what he’s worth. I prefer the Blackhawks pick up a free agent on the cheap, but someone that has been in this league for years and work to infuse their experience into Chicago’s system.
I think they should stick with the trio they got. The Blackhawks put all their eggs in one basket with the Fleury trade, so they can’t afford much else if he decides not to play. If that happens, it would be a good opportunity to give Lankinen, Subban, and Delia a better look in a regular-season setting. Although, it would be a huge bummer if Fleury doesn’t report, for sure.
There were a few players that Chicago let walk in free agency. David Kampf signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vinnie Hinostroza signed with the Sabres and they traded Nikita Zadorov’s signing rights to the Calgary Flames. But more notably, they couldn’t come to an agreement with rookie Pius Suter and he signed a two-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings. The 24-year-old was fourth on the team in goals (14) and points (27). Do you think it was a mistake to let him go, or are you okay with it?
Time will tell. Suter is a nice player, but I don’t think the franchise is doomed because they let him walk. I’d rather have Suter at $3.2 million over Dylan Strome at $3 million, but it is what it is. Suter had a good rookie season, but he still averaged less than half a point per game despite spending a lot of time between Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat. I think there are plenty of candidates to replace his production, like Lukas Reichel, Henrik Borgstrom, and Alex Nylander.
No, I’m not ok with this at all. It felt like the writing was on the wall when they didn’t qualify him in the first place. Then, the moves that followed seemed to push Suter further and further out of plain sight — especially when they signed Johnson.
Suter is the type of player that does even better with added tenure, as his resume will support, and that would have been a major benefit for these rebuilding Blackhawks. Especially given the impressive rookie campaign he just completed and knowing there is so much upside we’ve yet to witness.
No, I’m not okay with letting Suter go. He is a good depth player and Chicago could use all the depth that they can get. It stinks that he can only get better and the Hawks may be missing on yet another talent. However, I really hope that the newcomers, like Reichel and Borgstrom, can make their mark and take away the sting. Who knows, maybe this will be for the best in the long run, but right now I do not see it.
Obviously, there were a lot of changes made, as pointed out before. I think most Blackhawks fans are pleased with the overall results. But I want to leave the floor to you guys. Out of all the moves, which one is your personal favorite?
Be sure to tune into our next show to hear our explanations for our choice of favorite moves. Please share your thoughts with us as we have a lot more to discuss with the team’s roster and future.
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Just a small town girl with Midwestern charm; combined with a love of dogs, writing, frappuccinos, Chicago-isms, sports, and a whole lot of Blackhawks hockey. Twitter: @brooke_lofo.