The 2021 season is officially over. The Tampa Bay Lightning are back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions. That means only one thing, the offseason is in full effect. For the other 31 teams, 32 teams once the Seattle Kraken joins, it’s time to get ready for the NHL Entry Draft and Free Agency. Furthermore, the Chicago Blackhawks embark on getting ready for the 2021/22 season. The team has to figure out who they will expose in the Seattle expansion draft. Plus, they also need to figure out who they will want to pursue in Free Agency. Here are the two players on the wishlist for the 2021/22 Free Agency period for the Blackhawks.
Zach Hyman – Toronto Maple Leafs
The Chicago Blackhawks should look into signing left-winger Zach Hyman. Hyman has spent the last six seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He has accumulated 86 goals, & 99 assists for 185 points in 345 games played. Last season, he tallied up 15 goals and 18 assists for 33 points in 43 games. The left-winger has been a versatile Top-6 forward for the Maple Leafs since getting on the ice more since the 2016/17 season. Many consider the 2018/19 season as the breakout season for Hyman when he tallied up 21 goals and 20 assists for 41 points in 71 games played in the regular season.
Hyman signed a four-year/$9M deal with the Maple Leafs before the 2017/18 season. His AAV over the four seasons was $2.25M which was 3% of Toronto’s cap according to CapFriendly. There has been speculation that Hyman could earn up to over $5M annually from teams who are looking for his type of play. Unfortunately for the Maple Leafs, that is a big ask for them considering how tight they are on their cap space. Although, for the Blackhawks, having a player like Hyman could be a boost for their Top-6 situation. The Blackhawks Top-6, while having Alex DeBrincat, Patrick Kane, Kirby Dach, etc, the team still needs more help there.
Furthermore, while he does play left-wing, Hyman could play center as well in a pinch. Getting Hyman could give the Blackhawks a solid Top-6 with more scoring touch outside of always relying on Kane, DeBrincat, Toews, etc. It all comes down to if Hyman wants to move to Chicago since he is an Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA), and for how much. The money and term would have to work for both player and team. Time will tell if the Blackhawks make a move for Hyman.
There is another name that has been linked to the Chicago Blackhawks for the past few weeks. He’s a defenseman who could really bolster the blue line. His name is Dougie Hamilton.
Dougie Hamilton – Carolina Hurricanes
Carolina Hurricanes defenseman, Dougie Hamilton, has been linked to the Blackhawks for a few weeks now. The team has said that they want to make a splash this offseason. Hamilton’s name was one of the players mentioned that the Blackhawks were interested in going after. Over the last nine seasons, Hamilton has played for three teams (Boston, Calgary & Carolina) equally for three years each. He has accumulated 106 goals and 235 assists for 341 points over 607 games played. Last season was the best for Hamilton in Carolina with 10 goals and 32 assists for 42 points in 55 games. Per CapFriendly, Hamilton’s AAV was $5.75M over the last six years after he signed a six-year/$34.5M deal with Calgary back in 2015.
It’s been speculated that Hamilton could be looking at $8-9M per year this offseason. There are teams that could give Hamilton that deal for how solid he is as a Top 2 defenseman in the league. For the Blackhawks, it’s a tricky situation to make a move for him with the cap hit he could request. Although, the team did get some relief when they recently traded Duncan Keith to Edmonton for Caleb Jones. Plus, they have been linked to Seth Jones, Caleb’s brother, as well from Columbus. It gives the Blackhawks options on what to do next to bolster a blue line that does need help overall. Nonetheless, it wouldn’t hurt the Blackhawks to pursue Hamilton, for the right price of course. It would just come down to term and for how much just like with Zach Hyman.
What do the Blackhawks want to do?
While the Chicago Blackhawks do have more cap space now after the Keith trade, what will they do next? The team does have the option to go get a forward, like Hyman. Or, go after a defenseman like Hamilton. It all comes down to what the team wants to do with the cap space available. As long as it helps the team, that is all that matters. Let’s hope the team makes the right moves to get ready for the 2021/22 season.
My name is Zach Martin, and I am the Chicago Blackhawks beat writer for Belly Up Sports and Belly Up Hockey Follow me on Twitter for the most up-to-date Blackhawks content and news. I’m a co-host on a hockey podcast, Cannons & Tomahawks, that talks about all things NHL.