Despite the fact that we’re less than 24 hours from the official start of NHL free agency getting under way, we still have yet to hear much about what the Chicago Blackhawks plan to do in free agency and on the trade market, though the league as a whole has been pretty quiet to this point.
What the Blackhawks need to accomplish in the coming weeks is no secret. They need to upgrade their defense greatly, look at upgrading the second line center spot, maybe take a look at bringing in a goaltender, and perhaps add a guy like Shane Doan to add a bit of skilled grit in the top six.
But priority no. 1 is the blue line, which was incredibly inconsistent last year. The Hawks are going to make some sort of move within the next couple of days and could look to sign one of the few solid defenseman that are available on the market, if they miss out on the big prize.
That big prize is obviously Ryan Suter, who is one of two premier free agents that can be had this summer, along with Zach Parise. Several teams are expected to be in on Suter, including the Blackhawks.
Already being faced with the task of locking up Shea Weber long term, it’s almost a certainty that Suter will not return to the Nashville Predators, though the chance remains that they could make a real run at locking up both parts of the best defensive pairing in the National Hockey League.
With Suter set to test the free agent waters, there are already multiple big market teams that are looking to sign him. The Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins could be the favorites at this point, but don’t sleep on the Blackhawks trying to sign him either, as well as a team like the Minnesota Wild.
Though the Blackhawks will definitely one of the many teams in on Suter, are their chances of signing him realistic? They have money to play with, but likely wouldn’t be able to outbid everyone, and you have to wonder if the fact that the Blackhawks already have an established top pairing would have any bearing on whether or not Suter would choose to sign in Chicago.
If the Blackhawks hope to sign Suter, they’re going to have to pitch the benefits of playing in Chicago pretty well and will have to be able to sign him to a deal that wouldn’t hamper them too badly financially. There’s no real indication that they are a favorite for Suter, but with the money to sign him and the team already established, there’s definitely a chance.
But with so many teams in the running to sign the top defenseman on the market, there really is no predicting where Suter could land. Even if the Hawks don’t land Suter, though, there are some decent consolation prizes out there, including Matt Carle and Jason Garrison.
With free agency set to get underway on Sunday, we should finally have a decent idea of who will land where, even if Suter doesn’t end up signing on the first day. Expect the Hawks to be active and grab at least one of the better defensemen out on the market, even if it’s not Ryan Suter.