Chicago Blackhawks: How to Move Forward After Missing Biggest Free Agents

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Chicago Blackhawks: How to Move Forward After Missing Biggest Free Agents
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Zach Parise and Ryan Suter will be going to the Minnesota Wild.

Their decision was made on the fourth day of free agency, meaning the Chicago Blackhawks missed out on both players.

That's not to say that GM Stan Bowman sat idle and watched as both Parise and Suter passed him by. (Via ESPN).

"I talked to the agents numerous times," Bowman said on a Wednesday. "We made a very appealing offer to them. They didn't grow up in Chicago. Zach is from Minnesota, and that's something we can't change. We have to respect that and not dwell on it."

The question now is what will the Blackhawks do to address their roster's holes this offseason?

Their biggest needs are a top-four defenseman and a natural second-line center. Both were glaring holes in the Blackhawks' lineup last season.

Plan B for the Blackhawks was free-agent defenseman Matt Carle, but those hopes were dashed when the Tampa Bay Lightning signed him for six years, according to

After Carle, the defensive free-agent pool weakens considerably to the point where Sheldon Brookbank looks like a top player.

For now, the Blackhawks seem content with Corey Crawford as their starting goaltender and with Ray Emery as a solid backup.

Marcus Kruger anchors the second line at center, while Nick Leddy is still the up-and-coming kid on the Blackhawks' second-line defensive pairing.

Will the Blackhawks make a big splash in free agency soon?

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Chicago's current lineup is enough to contend for the Stanley Cup each and every year. Need proof? Last season, the Blackhawks had 101 points and a nine-game losing streak, yet they were able to reach sixth in a tough Western Conference.

It never hurts to look at what's available.

Rick Nash is still on the market, as is Bobby Ryan, though the Blackhawks probably won't be involved with negotiations for either. Nash would likely cost too much for Chicago, while a right winger like Ryan is not what the team needs.

That leaves Shane Doan and Alexander Semin, both talented forwards, but who will be expensive for whichever team that pursues them.

Semin is a proven 40-goal scorer while Doan provides leadership and offensive prowess.

Will the Blackhawks ignore their defensive issues and up their talent on the front lines?

Any move right now would be welcomed by Blackhawks fans, as Bowman has accomplished little this offseason.

But free agency has months to go, and maybe it's too early to condemn Bowman.

Only time and a few more free agent signings will tell.

Follow James Maahs on Twitter for all the latest Blackhawks' news and updates.

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