With a significant amount of cap space remaining to them, the Chicago Blackhawks find themselves in an unusual position. The team has been very quiet this offseason, not including the trade that sent Marian Hossa to Arizona or signing Cam Ward to be the backup goaltender. However, with almost $5.5MM in cap space available to them, the Blackhawks have a number of options in front of them, according to Scott Powers of The Athletic (subscription required).
The scribe writes that one option is to spend some of that money on current free agents, but aside from Rick Nash, there are few options there. With Brandon Davidson agreeing to a PTO, the team could look to add a couple more of those to bolster their roster as they do have a number of youngsters expected to make the team. If one should struggle, the team could lean on those free agents. The team could also make a deal for a player a team is looking to unload before the season starts.
Powers also adds one of the better possibilities would be to wait for the trade deadline and acquire a player then. The only issue there is that there is no guarantee that Chicago will be heading back to the playoffs. Another down season could send them back to the lottery, which means they wouldn’t want to spend that money on deadline acquisitions. Of course, the final option would be to do nothing, but regardless, the team is better off with cap room than in past years. It’s now just how they intend to spend it.
- The Athletic’s Scott Powers (subscription required) profiles the recovery of St. Louis Blues’ winger Robby Fabbri, who missed the entire 2017-18 season after enduring a setback in his recovery during training camp last season from ACL surgery that he had after suffering a knee injury on Feb. 4, 2016. Now after two surgeries and a full year to recover, Powers shows what the 22-year-old has gone through and how he is finally ready to compete for a top-six role for the Blues this year.
- The Athletic’s Sean Shapiro (subscription required) studies the film of Valeri Nichushkin, who had a impressive rookie season back in the 2013-14 season, then missed most of the following season. After just an average showing the next year, Nichuskin left the NHL for the KHL, but now is returning after a pair of average seasons there. Now back, Shapiro suggests that his more developed 6-foot-4 frame should be a major factor in front of the net, but that a 30-point season would be a realistic expectation for the 23-year-old as he isn’t considered to be a great finisher in front of the net.
- The Minnesota Wild may have been quiet all offseason, but the team may make multiple lineup changes this season. One person who is likely to benefit will be Jordan Greenway. The 21-year-old signed with the Wild after a three-year stint with Boston University and is expected to jump right into the lineup, according to the StarTribune’s Sarah MacLellan. “I think he’s ready,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “ … It’s his job to lose.” Greenway appeared in 11 games for Minnesota last year, posting an assist in six regular season games, and a goal and an assist in five playoff games.
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jim Thomas writes that considering the strength of the team’s defense, new backup goaltender Chad Johnson should thrive in the Blues system and be able to put up solid numbers. Johnson, who struggled immensely in Buffalo last year, posting a .891 save percentage in 36 games, is likely to have a bounce back season. In fact, Thomas writes that Johnson’s career numbers are actually quite a bit better than former backup Carter Hutton, who is now in Buffalo.