Rebuilding the Hawks: Unrestricted FAs
The Chicago Blackhawks have five players that contributed who will be unrestricted Free Agents heading into this summer. They Hawks are once again limited by the cap and must be prudent with their UFAs.
Marty Turco: Veteran goalie brought in to be the starter and replacement for Anti Niemmi did not live up to expectations. However, Turco did not rock the boat and was by all accounts a great teammate and personal tutor for his successor Corey Crawford. The Blackhawks will more than likely go another direction as they search for a back up goaltender. However, bringing Turco back at the league minimum salary of $500,000 wouldn’t be the worst idea ever. The Hawks will probably look for a young, big, and cheap goalie to back up Crawford. If that type of goalie can’t be found, then perhaps going back to Turco would be ok. His odds of returning are not good, and his career may be over.
Thomas Kopecky: Thomas Kopecky is perhaps the most difficult decision the Blackhawks will have to make this offseason. Kopecky was playing over his head this year. He simply doesn’t have the hands to play top 6 minutes or be on the PP. However, Kopecky did do a lot of the dirty work for the Hawks. He went to the front of the net. He brought and element of grit. He would have been perfect had he been only needed as a 4th line player. His $1,200,000 price tag was just too high. Bringing Kopecky back at perhaps $750k for a 4th line role would be acceptable. He is Hossa’s best friend, and having a stable pony for a thoroughbred could be good for the overall team morale.
Jordan Hendry: Hendry is another interesting decision for the Hawks. He fits the mold of that the Hawks like as a mobile defenseman and was really coming on strong before going down with a season ending knee injury. The Hawks probably like him at the league minimum $500,000 as a 7th or 8th depth defensemen as he recovers from his surgery.
Fernando Pisani: Calling Pisani a disapointment would be inaccurate as he never had high expectations. Pisani simply isn’t good enough to dress most nights on NHL teams. He probably won’t be brought back unless the Blackhawks are simply looking for a cheap body to fill out the roster.
Ryan Johnson: Very pleasant surprise for the Hawks this season. Johnson was picked up off the street during the regular season and became a valuable piece of the puzzle. Johnson was great in the faceoff circle and effectively killed penalties. The Blackhawks are always in need for pivots, and Johnson provides valuable depth in a 4th line role. Of all the Blackhawks UFA’s Johnson is probably the only one who has a legitimate argument for a pay raise. Hopefully the Blackhawks can resign him for close to the league minimum, but the Hawks should absolutely be willing to give him a slight increase to perhaps $650k.
Rebuilding the Blackhawks will be a running blog this summer. The next installment will take a look at the future for Hawks prospects Jeremy Morin, Ben Smith, Kyle Beach, and Marcus Kruger.