Now that the Blackhawks have their cornerstone for the future it is time to start the development arc. The Blackhawks need to fill out their roster and surround their beautiful baby boy with enough talent that allows him to have success, but not so much talent that they're spending wildly and getting themselves in a draft position outside the top 5 or 7 picks next year. I have a list of players that I like who can help young Connor succeed, grow, and be protected in his rookie year.
First, we should probably talk about who will be on the team next year.
Forwards: Tyler Johnson, Jason Dickinson, Colin Blackwell, Kurashev, Taylor Raddysh, Cole Gutman, Reichel, Entwistle, Katchouk.
That is 9 forwards making virtually zero dollars.
Defense: Seth Jones, Connor Murphy, Nikita Zaitsev, Kevin Korchinski, Alex Vlasic, Jared Tinordi, Wyatt Kaiser
I think the Blackhawks are basically set on defense. That will be the group. I suppose there is a chance that the Hawks pick up a veteran Dman via trade weaponizing cap space to get assets in a similar fashion to the Zaitsev trade, but my gut says they are going young. With other prospects like Phillips, Nolan Allen and Ethan Del Mastro they should have plenty of bodies to call up from Rockford if needed as well.
Right now the Blackhawks have $36.41M committed in salary cap for the 2023-24 season. With signing a goalie, adding the young defensemen, and an RFA deal for Kurashev, you can likely add another $6M to that number. That means the Blackhawks will need to add an additional $18M in salary just to hit the salary floor. The salary floor was $60.2M last year. With the cap going up, so will the floor. That means the Hawks are going to need to splash the free agency pot a bit.
Here are guys I want
The Blackhawks are going to need to have a bodyguard for Bedard and their other young players. Nobody really fits that bill right now on the roster. Both of these veterans are available. There will be people in the media who don't understand the game or the culture and will scream about the state of the game and how these guys can't play anymore. I don't give a FUCK that these guys can't play. Their job is to protect Bedard and a deterrent against fuckery. Yell from the bench. Stare guys down in warm-ups. Create a sense of security for our baby boy. Sign one of these guys
Tough Guys Who Can Play
I loved having Max Domi on the team last year. Good player. He finished with the 4th most points in the NHL among pending UFAs. He can skate. He can score. He isn't afraid to get his nose dirty. His teammates appear to love him. Good character guy who plays hard. I want guys who will compete and will stand up for their teammates. Max Domi always answers the bell
Bertuzzi has that competitive mean streak too. A guy who pisses everyone off
but makes his teammates cry when he leaves
I would try to sign both of those guys. The Blackhawks have the ability and the need to overpay. They can give these guys short term deals for high AAVs to get it over the goal line. These are culture building guys. That is something the Blackhawks are going to need desperately. Michael Bunting from Toronto may also be an option.
Skill Guys To Play With Bedard
Patrick Kane. It won't happen. It should happen. I want it to happen. You want it to happen. He'd be perfect for Bedard. The Hawks don't want it.
Tomas Tatar. I've always loved Tatar. I think he's extremely underrated. Knows how to play. You can chalk up 20 goals a year for him every year. He can move up and down your lineup. He's never going to be a front line player, but you'll never hate having him on the ice.
Next year is going to be fun. The Hawks won't be good, but we won't be miserable watching them. For me personally, that is a HUGE step forward. I can't wait to get to October. This is an important offseason for Davidson and his people. They need to protect and support the most important player in the organization and getting 3 of the guys I listed is a great start as they build culture and filter in more and more young players. The ship has been officially turned. The engines are on. It's time to move forward.