Ideal Free Agency Frenzy for Blackhawks + Rumors
I don't know if it will be as much of a frenzy for the Blackhawks, but I know there are a lot of conversations happening. The Hawks have more cap space and available roster spots open then normal at this time.
With this new "courting period" the deals are already leaking out before July 1st. Carter Hutton will be Buffalo-bound, Jonathan Bernier is heading to Detroit and with mixed emotions of many Blackhawks fans, Cam Ward will be Corey Crawford's new backup.
I waited to put this out and I have been getting hit up from a few of my contacts on what they are hearing the Blackhawks are hoping to achieve from now until the end of Summer.
* The Hawks wanted a veteran backup goalie. They are going to get one in Cam Ward. My one source says, "management wasn't going to go into this year without a change in net, which was a black eye in what was an overall bad year last year. Even with Corey Crawford 100% healthy, they will look to limit his games a bit this year and they lost some confidence in Forsberg. If people don't like this Ward signing, think about if/when Crawford goes down with an injury for a month. The Hawks would have a tandem of Forsberg/Delia and the second they started dropping games, everyone would be calling for Stan's head because he didn't upgrade the position."
* With that being said, I've heard that the Hawks would like to keep Forsberg. If they can sneak him through waivers they would be in a good position with Forsberg/Delia (Rockford) and Lankinen/Tomkins (ECHL).
* Sticking with goalies, Ivan Nalimov could be included as a piece in an upcoming deal I've been told.
* Now, for what the Blackhawks are looking to add on Sunday? I've been told "Stan wants to beef up the centre position with a bottom 6, role player. There's a few out there like Beagle, Grant and Winnik that I believe the Hawks are targeting."
* On the larger scale, it appears the Hawks are looking at going big with LWs like JVR and Neal. Will they get them? Who knows. If they don't they may turn to speedster Michael Grabner or character guy Matt Calvert.
* Defence is an area where they are focused on as well and a contact told me "Expect them to at least land 1 if not 2 dmen on July 1st. Keep an eye on what hand they are LD vs. RD. If it's RD they are already stacked with Seabrook, Murphy, Rutta and possible Jokiharju, so I would anticipate some dominoes to fall from there. They may even have trades lined up."
* Lastly, I heard "I don't expect Anisimov to be on the team in October. Watch Montreal, Vegas or the Islanders if they don't sign Tavares."
So, where does that leave us? It leaves us having a little fun as I head into my favourite weekend of the year – my birthday, Canada Day and Free Agency frenzy.
Based on what we've heard already, what I've laid out above and most importantly, being realistic to what this team is actually going to do… here is my ideal/realistic July 1st:
~ Blackhawks sign Cam Ward (this we know)
~ Blackhawks sign Jay Beagle
~ Blackhawks sign Derek Grant
~ Blackhawks sign Calvin de Haan
~ Blackhawks sign Michael Grabner
~ Blackhawks trade Anisimov for pick/prospects
My rationale would be to sign 1 LHD (de Haan) because there aren't any appealing RHD on the open market. I believe that would have to come via trade (ie. Faulk, Severson) which I would like to see happen for the right price as well as I don't love putting Rutta opposite to Keith.
I would like to see Stan grab 2 centres (if Anisimov is traded). In Grant and Beagle, both have a lot of size, speed and great faceoff skills.
I would love to see guys like Neal or JVR signed, but I honestly think they are going to cost too much.
You have to remember July 1st can be a place of regrets as well and locking into these big contracts with the amount of younger players coming up and needed contracts for the Hawks (like Debrincat, Schmaltz, Sikura, Jokharju). In my signings above, in my brain they are all short-term contracts which exception of de Haan. I hope Stan is wise in his decisions.
What does your ideal free agency frenzy look like this year for the Hawks?