Chicago Blackhawks general manager (GM) Kyle Davidson completely decimated the team’s depth at left wing this offseason. He of course traded star winger Alex DeBrincat and also let Dominik Kubalik leave through free agency. Although he has embraced the full-on rebuild, it wouldn’t be a bad thing for the team to add a left winger because of these notable offseason departures. In my opinion, three players are the most appealing among the remaining free agents. Let’s look at each of them now.
Evgeny Svechnikov is a pretty intriguing free agent still available at the time of this writing. The 2015 first-round pick just spent this past season with the Winnipeg Jets, where he set new career-highs with seven goals, 12 assists, and 19 points in 72 games. Yet, that wasn’t enough for the 25-year-old to secure a qualifying offer from the Jets, and he remains a free agent because of it.
With Svechnikov being a former first-round pick, the Blackhawks should consider the prospect of signing him to a one-year contract. The Russian winger could end up taking that next step with the Blackhawks if he is given a role in their middle six. When looking at the way their forward group is constructed, it’s fair to argue that he could at least land a spot on their third line.
Davidson is in a position to take a chance on a young, former top prospect like Svechnikov. Although the chances of him becoming a top-six forward at the NHL level are slim, he still could have some offensive upside worth exploring. Thus, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get him signed before the start of the season.
Much like Svechnikov, Sonny Milano just had the best season of his young career. In 66 games as a member of the Anaheim Ducks, he scored 14 goals and recorded a career-high 34 points. Although he formed excellent chemistry with young star Trevor Zegras, the Ducks decided not to send him a qualifying offer. The 26-year-old is still looking for a home in 2022-23, and the Blackhawks should consider the idea of pursuing him, as fellow THW writer Brooke LoFurno has also pointed out.
Although the Blackhawks are rebuilding, I’d argue that Milano is still young enough that he could be a good fit for a rebuild. After the season he just had, he would certainly be in the running for top-six minutes on the Blackhawks, too. As I stated above, the Blackhawks have hurt their depth at left wing noticeably this summer. Milano could be the best potential long-term option on the market to help fix it.
With Milano still looking for a job in mid-August, he isn’t in a position to command too much money. However, the Blackhawks also have a decent amount of cap space, so they could outbid any other club interested in his services with ease. Overall, there could be a pretty good match here between these two parties.
The Blackhawks may be in a rebuild, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t consider bringing in veterans for depth. One left winger who could be a worthwhile addition on a league-minimum contract is Antoine Roussel. In 53 games during 2021-22 with the Arizona Coyotes, he scored four goals and had eight points. Yes, those numbers aren’t jaw-dropping, but his 607-game NHL resume could still make him appealing to Davidson.
Rebuilding clubs are known for bringing in veterans to help mentor their prospects and young NHL-caliber players. Although Roussel has never been a star in this league, he has put together a fairly lengthy career as a bottom-six forward. With that, he would also provide the Blackhawks with a bit more bite, as his 59 penalty minutes and 74 hits in 53 games last season show effectively.
Roussel could be a potential fit on the Blackhawks’ fourth line, but he also would be a serviceable 13th forward to have as well. With how often injuries occur in this league, Davidson would be wise to bring in the French winger for added depth. This is still the case even if this signing wouldn’t be a game-changing one.
Alas, it will be intriguing to see if the Blackhawks end up signing any of these three left wingers before the start of the 2022-23 season. Out of the bunch, Milano would likely make the biggest impact, but I feel Svechnikov could potentially be a low-risk, high-reward kind of signing. As for Roussel, adding a little more toughness and depth wouldn’t be a bad thing for the Blackhawks either.
Michael DeRosa is a contributor who covers the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks for The Hockey Writers. Since 2017, he’s written and edited for numerous websites. Besides his work for THW, you can also find him on NHLTradeRumors.me, BBallRumors.com, BaseballRumors.me, FootballRumors.me and The Rat Trick.