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Free Agents Blackhawks Should Target this Offseason

Published May 11, 2022 at 4:00 PM

It's certainly disappointing that the Chicago Blackhawks are not in the postseason for the fourth time in five seasons, but there are still plenty of reasons to watch the 2022 Playoffs. From highly contested series to former Hawks playing key roles for their squads (Fleury, Danault, Panarin, etc), there is lots of great hockey being played. Here are three pending UFAs (unrestricted free agents) currently playing in the postseason who would look good in a Hawks sweater come next season.

To me, the list starts with St. Louis goaltender Ville Husso. Getting a true No 1 goalie is a great stepping stone towards building a roster that can compete for Cups year in and year out. Husso is becoming a free agent after a very strange career. He's 27 years old and just completed his first actual season in the NHL. He played 40 games, which is much more than the 17 he played in the pandemic-shortened 2021 season. His numbers were worthy of a No 1 with a 25-7-6 record, a .919 save percentage and a 2.56 goals against average during the regular season.

The Blues have $36 million tied up over the next six years with goaltender Jordan Binnington so he clearly isn't going anywhere, making Husso expendable. I can see the Blackhawks signing Husso to a 4-5 year deal worth $4-4.5 million per year. If the team is willing to spend that money on a goalie, the goalie of choice should be Husso.

Another option to consider is Pittsburgh right wing Bryan Rust. He currently plays on the first line with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel, one of the best pairs in the NHL. That's helped him put up 58 points in 60 games this season, a career-high. Rust won't come cheap probably around that $4-4.5 mil per year, but he could still be the right move at the right time.

He's someone who has proven he can play on a top line. Imagine a top line of Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat and the current Penguin. Rust has been strong on the powerplay in his career with 54 points in only 124 regular season games. He also brings a physicality to the roster with 576 hits over that timespan.

Finally we'll look at a cheaper, bottom-six option, Carolina right wing Nino Niederreiter. He only had 45 points in 74 games. His role isn't exactly scoring points, but he does so much more that helps a team win. He currently has three goals and one assist through five playoff games. Niederreiter feels like he's been around forever (drafted in 2010), but he's only 29.

He might be the right player to transition the Hawks out of this rebuild and get ready for competitive hockey. If he can do that while still scoring 20 goals per season and dishing out around 90 hits (like he's done 7 times in 12 seasons), then he might be the perfect forward addition. He shouldn't cost that much to bring in, either.

At this time, CapFriendly shows a little more than $61 million committed to 14 players on the Hawks' roster for 2022-23, giving them approximately $20 million to work with heading into the summer.
May 11   |   224 answers
Free Agents Blackhawks Should Target this Offseason

Who would you like to see the Hawks sign?

Husso8537.9 %
Rust4721 %
Niederreiter9241.1 %
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