The NHL Free Agency period is quite the adventure. Teams are adding needed depth, starting or accelerating rebuilding efforts, and making splashes for vindication league-wide. This year was far from different. Let’s grade the Chicago Blackhawks off-season moves so far.
Grading The Chicago Blackhawks Offseason Moves
Robin Lehner (G)
Coming off a year in which he was a Vezina trophy finalist, Lehner was signed to a one-year deal in Chicago for five million dollars. With Corey Crawford‘s health an issue the past two years, more than likely, the two will split the net. If Crawford leaves or retires at the end of the season, the Hawks will have a solid netminding presence to hold down the fort. Adding to this already sweet pot, the emergence of prospects Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen in the minors gives the Hawks a solid goaltending situation going forward.
Grade – (A): not too happy about how much money is being spent on a goaltending tandem but it could work.
Andrew Shaw (F)
The man affectionately known as the ‘Mutt’ returns to Chicago after a trade that swapped seventh-round picks. Shaw brings needed grit to the team and saw his point totals hit a career-high with the Montreal Canadiens last year. The Hawks didn’t lose any roster players in the deal and he seems to have found his offensive touch. Depth on the forward lines has been an issue for Chicago and Shaw brings that, as well as a constant net-front presence on a power play.
Grade – (C): I don’t mind seeing Shaw return but I’m concerned about his ability to maintain his discipline and avoid the penalty box in critical situations.
Ryan Carpenter (C)
A solid depth center for killing penalties and winning faceoffs. A decent role player and depth piece but not exactly a world beater. In the grand scheme of the NHL, every team needs depth at the center position. Solid move.
Grade – (C+): cheap role player.
Olli Maatta (D) & John Quenneville (C)
Maatta is a stay at home defender brought in to help stabilize a suspect blue line. Going out was the speedy Dominik Kahun.
Grade – (C-): While analytics don’t favor this tandem they address needs the team currently has.
Calvin de Haan (D)
De Haan had quite the coming out party with the Carolina Hurricanes‘ first deep playoff runs since 2009. A solid defender who can again solidify a suspect blue line, de Haan had a solid season overall with the Canes. However, it was the playoffs where his subtle style aided the Canes against the Washington Capitals and the New York Islanders. The Canes, unfortunately, were beaten by the Boston Bruins but de Haan made himself quite the desirable commodity.
The Final Countdown
Stan Bowman made some very savvy moves this offseason to bolster the team depth and address issues the fans have been clamoring to have resolved. Finally having a bit more cap flexibility gave the team leverage to make some solid offseason moves. Chicago also kept the team in a good position in terms of cap flexibility moving forward. They still have a few more moves to make to truly make the team a powerhouse once more but with more youth coming in the wings, the Hawks should be solid for years to come.
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