CHICAGO -- Day 2 of NHL free agency brought plenty of rumors but little action -- at least when it comes to the big names who might be switching teams. The Blackhawks didn’t sign any of them but -- save for New Jersey, who re-signed goalie Martin Brodeur -- neither did anyone else. Which means there remains a chance for the Hawks to make a big acquisition before it’s all said and done.
New Jersey star and captain Zach Parise is the latest name to be linked with the Hawks, but as of Monday he decided to hold off on making a decision on where he will play for the foreseeable future.
"I'm getting closer but haven't made a decision. I haven't set any deadlines,” he said in Toronto on Monday afternoon.
So the waiting game continues for him and the other prize unrestricted free agent, Ryan Suter. Between the Predators defenseman, Brodeur and now Parise, the Hawks have seemingly been linked to all the big names.
So what’s going on with the team from West Madison Street? Give them credit, they aren’t letting a player slip by them that could help improve their team. At least not without trying.
Suter was the common name linked to the Hawks as free agency opened but the mutual interest faded quickly, either because of contractual concerns or some other unknown reason. At the same time that Suter was being wooed by teams, Brodeur quickly took center stage. Just days earlier the all-time leader in wins declared he would become a free agent after 19 years in New Jersey.
The Hawks aren’t looking to replace Corey Crawford with just anyone or at any cost, but Brodeur would have fit what they want: a short-term upgrade. If Tim Thomas had not decided to take a year off, a play for him would not have been a surprise. But gambling on Roberto Luongo isn’t just a small risk and trading for, say, Jonathan Bernier of Los Angeles, doesn’t guarantee an upgrade. No, Crawford moves to the background or is sent packing only if the Hawks know they are getting better and the price is right. But when the Hawks offered two years, according to a source, the Devils stepped up and Brodeur opted to return to New Jersey for his 20th season.
So now it’s on to Parise. Many will wonder why the Hawks are seeking a high-priced left winger when they have more than enough offense. The answer is simply because he’s available and he’s really, really good. It would be hard to call adding a player like Parise a mistake. Maybe a trade to move someone out has to follow or maybe the Hawks would need to alter their roster even more dramatically, but at the end of the day any team with Jonathan Toews and Parise is a team any coach or general manager would like.
Parise may or may not play center -- where the Hawks could use some help -- but he can do so much on both ends of the ice and so much on special teams you simply add him and worry about the rest later.
That’s pretty much the attitude or strategy the Hawks are taking. If Suter was signed they would be overloaded on defense. If Brodeur was added they would have three goalies under contract. Bring in Parise and the current Hawks would have no cap space left and still be short a true second-line center. Worry about all that later. Get the player that improves your team and then sort out who plays where and with who. And then dump salary if need be.
So will Parise sign with the Hawks?
It’s still unlikely, as much because of his ties with New Jersey as anything else. But a source close to him Monday night said he’s “considering” the Hawks. That’s at least something. Earlier in the day a separate source said it was down to the Hawks or Devils. Maybe everything will be different on Tuesday after Parise has a night of sleep.
No Hawks fan should be happy if they get shut out on acquiring good players but they can’t acquire them without making offers. At least the Hawks are doing just that.