After an intense start to July in which the Chicago Blackhawks were reported to be strong bidders for Zach Parise and possibly Ryan Suter, the Hawks will have to find help elsewhere as both free agents agreed to terms with the Minnesota Wild on Independence Day.
Fans are probably going to be upset with GM Stan Bowman for not making a big splash by landing one of the top free agents on the market, but by all indications, he did what he could. It was ultimately up to Parise and Suter to decide where they wanted to spend the next 13 years of their careers. The Blackhawks had an offer on the table for at least Parise, if not Suter as well, and the Hawks were turned down.
Even though the Hawks could not land either of the big fish, there are still some good options available via trade as well as free agency. There are still moves that can be made and we will get to see how aggressive Bowman really is.
Shane Doan wants to remain with the Phoenix Coyotes but will entertain other offers if the situation in Glendale remains unstable. Jonathan Toews was reported to have been lobbying Doan to come to Chicago. The veteran right wing would provide the much needed combination of size, grit and scoring touch that the Hawks so sorely need.
Alex Semin was let go by the Washington Capitals at the expiration of his contract. A highly skilled, goal-scoring left winger, Semin is an enigma and has a propensity to disappear. He has all kinds of talent, but if he had a better work ethic, a contending team would have snapped him up by now.
Matt Carle is coming off a stint with the Philadelphia Flyers and is considered to be the consolation prize for Ryan Suter. Considering how much money he’ll be in line for by being the “next best option.” I would hope the Hawks steer clear on this one. He’s a second-tier offensive defenseman that really wouldn’t fill the holes the Hawks have on the back end.
If you’re not wowed by the free agent options I’ve presented, it gets better via trade. Everyone knows about Rick Nash. I don’t think the Blackhawks are in on this one because Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson wants a huge return for his disgruntled star. If Kane had to be included in any deal for Nash, at best it would be a lateral move.
The name I would love to see the Hawks pursue via trade is Bobby Ryan. Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray must not like his job because he’s been dangling the star winger for a while now, going back to the fall. The asking price is sure to be high, but with Nash at the top of the market, maybe the Blackhawks can make a deal happen that includes some of their higher-level prospects a draft pick and a roster player. Ryan is an explosive scorer and would cause tons of matchup problems for other teams when added to an already pretty strong Chicago top six.
This one hasn’t been discussed as much, but with the Calgary Flames going the riverboat gambling route by handing out tons of cash to average free agents, it could be possible that Jay Bouwmeester is on the market. Bouwmeester possesses the size on defense that the Blackhawks are looking for. He probably could be had for some combination of Niklas Hjalmarsson and picks or prospects. I like the idea of JayBo on the Blackhawks as a Seabrook-lite type of guy who could be a stable presence as a partner to Nick Leddy.
Even though Stan Bowman was left holding his big bag of money today, there is still a lot he can do to make the Chicago Blackhawks a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. There are plenty of moves out there to be made. Here’s hoping he makes the right ones.