One of the biggest strategies for rebuilding clubs is signing buy-low candidates and then flipping them at the deadline, and the Chicago Blackhawks look like they’ll follow that path. Scott Powers of The Athletic reports that the Blackhawks have signed both Andreas Athanasiou and Max Domi today. Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic notes that it will be one-year deals for both, worth $3MM each.
With these two signings, the Blackhawks’ plan is starting to become more clear. GM Kyle Davidson’s intentions with signing Domi and Athanasiou are relatively transparent. These are two offense-first players who have in the past shown the ability to score at a valuable level. Max Domi has a 72-point season on his resume, as well as other years where he scored around a 50-point pace. Athanasiou, known best for his blazing speed, has scored 30 goals in the past and offers a tantalizing offensive toolbox that he’s never quite put together.
On a Chicago team that figures to be quite bad, both Domi and Athanasiou will likely get greater offensive roles than they’d receive on contending teams. So, Davidson is likely making these signings with the hope that the increased role can help them author a productive first half to their seasons, making them valuable trade assets at the 2023 trade deadline. Both Domi and Athanasiou could be had by contenders at just a 50% cap hit (if Chicago retains) meaning if either is able to reach similar production to what they’ve been able to do in the past, they could return the Blackhawks a decent prospect or draft pick.
Neither Athanasiou or Domi figures to be a long-term fixture in Chicago. But with the direction the Blackhawks are going, these signings could be beneficial for both the team and players. For Chicago, they have the potential to net them some more long-term assets, the kinds of prospects and draft picks Davidson has been stockpiling so far in his tenure. For the players, they get a chance at a greater role than what they’d receive anywhere else and their best opportunity to re-enter the market on stronger footing next summer.