Blackhawks Have 3 Good PTO Candidates to Consider

Several free agents are signing professional tryout (PTO) contracts around the NHL with preseason officially here. Chicago Blackhawks general manager (GM) Kyle Davidson would be wise to consider bringing a player on a PTO as well because it would create more much-needed competition at training camp. There are some pretty intriguing PTO candidates that the Blackhawks should consider pursuing and let’s look at why this is the case.

Tyler Ennis

Although the Blackhawks are rebuilding, Davidson has already shown this offseason that he is not afraid to bring in experienced NHL forwards through free agency. Andreas Athanasiou, Max Domi, and Colin Blackwell joined the team this offseason, but when looking at their forward group, there’s still room for improvement. As a result, I believe that they should sign Tyler Ennis to a PTO with training camp officially here.

Tyler Ennis Ottawa Senators
Tyler Ennis, Ottawa Senators (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Ennis spent this past season with the Ottawa Senators, where he had eight goals and 24 points in 57 games. Overall, it was a fairly decent campaign for the 32-year-old forward, but it hasn’t been enough for him to find a home for the 2022-23 season. Yet, he has the potential to provide an upgrade to the Blackhawks’ middle six, so he could be a good player to take a chance on. At worst, if he failed to impress at camp, Chicago could simply release him free of charge.

Truthfully, it is a little surprising that Ennis has yet to find a home after the season he just put together. Although he isn’t a star, he could be a good short-term investment for the Blackhawks. Furthermore, if he had a good season with Chicago, he also could be trade bait at the deadline. That would make this situation a complete win for the Blackhawks.

Kris Russell

With Jake McCabe out due to having cervical spine surgery, the Blackhawks have a spot available on the left side of their defense. Therefore, it wouldn’t be a bad thing for them to invite a defenseman to training camp on a PTO. In my opinion, one player who stands out from the current unrestricted free agents (UFA) is veteran defenseman, Kris Russell.

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In 31 games this past season with the Edmonton Oilers, Russell had two goals to go along with nine points. Although these offensive numbers aren’t the best, it’s important to note that the 35-year-old has made a career for himself as a defensive defenseman. With that, he is an elite shot-blocker in the NHL, and the Blackhawks could certainly use a player like that during their rebuild.

Russell is also able to play both sides, so he could fit virtually anywhere in the Blackhawks’ lineup. Furthermore, he could be a good veteran to have around as a mentor, as he has played an impressive 912 career games over his 15-year NHL career. Overall, there could be a pretty decent match here if Russell is looking for a full-time role, so why shouldn’t the Blackhawks invite him to camp?

Brian Boyle

Speaking of veterans, Brian Boyle is also looking for a new home for the 2022-23 season. I’d argue that it is a bit surprising that the 37-year-old hasn’t been offered a deal yet, as he is coming off of a pretty solid season with the Pittsburgh Penguins. In 66 games while playing fourth-line minutes, he scored 11 goals and recorded 21 points. Overall, that isn’t bad production given his role, so perhaps the Blackhawks should take a look at him.

Brian Boyle Pittsburgh Penguins
Brian Boyle, Pittsburgh Penguins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Boyle would be a nice addition to the Blackhawks’ bottom six, as he has the potential to provide them with decent secondary scoring and more overall toughness. That is something that the Blackhawks could use more of, even if they are rebuilding. Furthermore, the 6-foot-6 center could help mentor the club’s younger players due to his immense NHL experience.

If Boyle has a good year for the Blackhawks, he also could be a potential trade piece before the 2023 Trade Deadline. Although he’s unlikely to muster up more than a fourth-round pick, the Blackhawks are in a position to grab as many draft picks as possible. Therefore, he could be a good addition in several different ways if he impresses during a tryout with the Blackhawks.

Nevertheless, it is clear that the Blackhawks have some pretty intriguing PTO candidates worth considering. Although they are in the later stages of their careers, it is never a bad thing to have them as leaders in the locker room. We will have to wait and see if any of them get offers to try out for Chicago from here.

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