Free agency is just around the corner. With it comes a chance to add that final piece to another championship puzzle for the Chicago Blackhawks. There are a few players that the Hawks could target to address their needs.
The Hawks will be more looking for a couple players that they need this offseason rather than picking up a player they would like to have. Their biggest needs are a second line center and a third line defenseman. A fourth line center would also be beneficial for the Hawks, but it isn’t one of their top priorities.
Mikhail Grabovski, Center, Washington Capitals
One player I would like to see the Hawks target is Washington Capitals center Mikhail Grabovski. The thirty-year-old Grabovski is an above average shooter and stick handler. Grabovski had 13 goals last season and a plus/minus rating of 6.
Grabovski was one of the players that the Maple Leafs and Capitals relied pretty heavily on, making his lack of production more prominent. If Grabovski joined the Hawks, he would be less relied on, meaning he can fly under the radar on a line with Patrick Kane and possibly get back to his 20 to 30 goals per season form.
Although he has had a couple less than spectacular seasons with the Capitals and the Toronto Maple Leafs, Grabovski has the skill set to succeed on the Hawks’ roster.
Grabovksi had a $3 million cap hit to the Capitals last season, with his last two years being disappointing he may take a bit of a pay cut in order to get on a championship caliber team.
For a third line defenseman, the Hawks could go one of two routes. They could either go after a seasoned veteran to pair up with Nick Leddy, or get a younger player to grow around him. General Manager Stan Bowman is waiting for 23-year-old defender David Rundblad to be ready for the NHL, so we need to keep that in mind as well.
Stephane Robidas, Defender, Anaheim Ducks
If the Hawks decide to go the route of picking up a veteran defender for a year, there is a chance it could be Stephane Robidas from the Anaheim Ducks. Robidas is a 37-year-old defender that played last season for both the Ducks and the Dallas Stars. He had 5 goals and a plus/minus rating of 20.
Robidas also displays great leadership and could be a beneficial player for the Hawks, but what’s the catch? Robidas fractured his leg twice last year in almost the exact same spot, meaning his leg may not be fully healed for quite a while. His latest injury was in Game 3 of the first round against his former Dallas Stars and although he will not need surgery, the recovery time is still quite some time.
Robidas had a cap hit of a little over $3 million, but as he gets older he has yet to win the Stanley Cup. If he can prove that he will be healthy and take a pay cut, there is a chance Stephane Robidas makes a 10 year anniversary comeback to Chicago.
Mike Kostka, Defender, Tampa Bay Lightning
If the Hawks decide to go with a younger player, the best choice for them would be Mike Kostka. Kostka played for the Hawks last year before being traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Although he only played 9 games last year for the Hawks, “Thor’s doppelgänger” has chemistry with the players and he also knows their style of play. Kostka, with a 10 plus/minus rating, is a player that can be built up over the course of a couple years and used as trade bait when Rundblad is ready. The 28-year-old only had a cap hit of $625,000 last season, so he is a solid cheap player that also buys the Hawks time for Rundblad to grow.
I have heard two players from a few different people that they would like to see go to the Hawks, but there is a miniscule chance of these players actually coming to Chicago.
The first one is Minnesota Wild wing, Dany Heatley. Heatley has played in a few different places, never really finding a solid place to call home. Heatley had a disastrous 2013-2014 season with only 12 goals and a plus/minus of -18. With a cap hit of over $7 million, that just won’t cut it. The Hawks don’t necessarily need another wing right now. If it is handed to them on a silver platter with a low price tag they’ll take it, but that just realistically will not happen with Dany Heatley. Sorry Hawks fans, we won’t screaming, “50 in ’07!” any time soon.
The other player is the center from the Colorado Avalanche, Paul Stastny. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have Stastny in Chicago, the only problem is the cost. Stastny had 60 points, 25 of which being goals, last year, meaning that he is a great player worth every penny. With a $6.6 million cap hit last year and teams drooling over the thought of having him, there is little to no chance of the Hawks being able to snatch him up without clearing up some cap space.