Suter Not Qualified, Gaudette Signed, NHL Free Agency Eve, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Suter Not Qualified, Gaudette Signed, NHL Free Agency Eve, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

We are counting down the minutes until the opening of NHL Free Agency tomorrow. The Blackhawks have work to be done ahead of the opening of the free market in the league, started with yesterday’s restricted free agent window for qualifying offers coming and going. While a few questions were answered by Chicago’s moves, a few more were created with them.

•   In case you missed it, the Blackhawks sent qualifying offers to Brandon Hagel, Nikita Zadorov, and Alexander Nylander.

•   Along with those three receiving qualifying offers, the Blackhawks signed Adam Gaudette to a one-year deal at $997,500.

•   First, glad to see Gaudette coming back to the Blackhawks on a very reasonable deal. Something tells me he has a big year ahead of him.

•   The most glaring omission from the Blackhawks’ restricted free agents list not receiving offers yesterday was Pius Suter. After a breakout rookie season, the former Swiss league MVP would be heading into arbitration with the club if he were to have received a qualifying offer. While that doesn’t allow the Blackhawks to control the money they would be able to offer Suter, I wouldn’t think that he would end up costing much more than $2.5-3M AAV in a short-term deal ala Dominik Kubalík.

•   While Suter did not receive an offer, the Blackhawks could still reach a deal with him prior to the opening of free agency tomorrow. The fear for most Blackhawks fans when it comes to Suter would be not getting a deal done and losing him to the open market, where he would likely get plenty of attention.

•   To me, it feels like the Blackhawks are trying to penny-pinch on Suter and may be looking to save cap space to use on other areas of the team like defense and/or a veteran goaltender. Chicago sent offers to Nylander and Hagel as well, and signed Gaudette to a new deal. Throw in Lukas Reichel and Henrik Borgström, and it feels like the Blackhawks may be banking that one of those players could step into the role that Suter played for the tam last season (or likely less of a role with the “return” of Jonathan Toews) for a lesser cost.

•   The other move of note yesterday was giving a qualifying offer to Nikita Zadorov. It wasn’t a surprise to see, since the Blackhawks would not benefit from letting Zadorov walk for nothing in free agency. Giving him the qualifying offer allows him to remain a restricted free agent under the Blackhawks until a deal is reached or his rights could be traded.

•   And given what the Winnipeg Jets just paid for Brenden Dillon, it would be very interesting to see what the Blackhawks could get in a Zadorov trade, if/when the two sides cannot come to an agreement.

•   Feels like Chicago, who traded next year’s first round and third round draft picks this past weekend during the NHL Entry Draft, would benefit from saving the money they would have to shell-out for Zadorov and from getting some mid-to-early round pick(s) back in a potential trade for the 26-year-old defenseman.

•   We will see what transpires over the next hours as we approach the eve of free agency.

•   Anyone else feel like Steve? I do.

•   A couple more notes and deadlines to keep in mind today and tomorrow…

•   The Blackhawks do not currently have plans to use any buy-outs, to my knowledge.

•   No Blackhawks players who remain unsigned would garner an eight-year deal and Seth Jones already got his extension.

•   Johnny Gaudreau on the move maybe? Something to keep an eye on.

•   I mentioned it briefly before, but the Blackhawk may be a sneaky team in free agency to bring in a veteran goaltender to throw into the mix of Kevin Lankinen, Collin Delia, and Malcolm Subban. One major player in the goalie free agent market is Frederik Andersen.

•   Have not heard any connections between Andersen and the Blackhawks, but if they would be in the market for a free agent goaltender to push Lankinen for the starter’s role, it feels like Andersen would be a major target. Other names in the goalie free agent market Chicago could look for, in my eyes, include James Reimer and Laurent Brossoit.

•   As for free agent defensemen, Dougie Hamilton is no longer on the Chicago radar. All signs point to Hamilton likely heading to the New Jersey Devils. One player that could end up in Chicago and play in a reasonable middle-pairing role could be Jake McCabe.

•   I know, I hear you right now, “Yeah yeah, he’s from Wisconsin and played for the Badgers, we get it Mario!” But McCabe will turn 28-years-old by the start of next season and is coming of a season cut short with an ACL injury and a reasonable contract at a $2.85M AAV. If the Blackhawks save money on Zadorov, I think it would be spent well on getting a player like McCabe.

•   One last name to keep an eye on that would be interesting to see where he goes, even if it is likely not going to be Chicago, is forward Josh Ho-Sang. A former first-round pick by the New York Islanders in 2014, it felt like Ho-Sang never got a fair shake with the Islanders at the NHL level after proving to be a top-performer in the OHL and AHL over the years. In three separate stints with the Islanders, Ho-Sang skated in 53 games with seven goals and 24 points. He opted to play in the SHL in Sweden last season, skating in nine games between Örebro HC and Linköping HC, with two goals and an assist.

•   That will do it for today. Enjoy your Tuesday!



Author: Mario Tirabassi

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.