The Chicago Blackhawks' 2011-2012 offseason free-agent signings fell quite a bit short of par.
After a disappointing post-Stanley Cup championship year that saw his team barely nudge its way into the playoffs only to lose to the Vancouver Canucks in the first round, Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman acquired a lineup of rentals to provide added toughness and experience to a young core group of players.
Bowman’s conveyor belt of veterans included the likes of Daniel Carcillo, Jamal Mayers, Andrew Brunette and Sean O’Donnell, all of whom added a little personality and grit here and there. Still, the Hawks found themselves on the muzzle end of an another early postseason exit.
The Chicago Blackhawks now face the task of confronting more immediate needs without making the same mistakes that haunted them last offseason.
A lot of names in the Hawks’ system have emerged as potential wildcards for the team’s roster next season (Jeremy Morin, Ben Smith, Brandon Pirri) and a few were even able to crack the Hawks’ lineup as regulars down the stretch (Andrew Shaw, Jimmy Hayes, Dylan Olson). But, for a team that’s focused on winning now, it would be smart of Bowman to pad the team with a bit of insurance.
Here’s the scope of Bowman’s offseason:
Team needs: Improvement on special teams, security in goal, depth at center and defense, size and physicality on both front and back end.
Projected salary cap space: $6,843,206 (according to CapGeek.com).
Given this information, here are five potential free agents Bowman should pursue this coming offseason.