Pending Free Agent Forwards Give Different Future Outlooks with Blackhawks

The Chicago Blackhawks have a few key free agency decisions they need to make this offseason.
Carolina Hurricanes v Chicago Blackhawks
Carolina Hurricanes v Chicago Blackhawks / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

Members of the Blackhawks took time to speak to the media Saturday morning, just under 48 hours after their season ended with a 5-4 overtime defeat in Los Angeles. Two players in particular that fans were interested in hearing from are pending free-agent forwards Tyler Johnson and Colin Blackwell. After they both finished their press conferences, it was clear that one is interested in returning to Chicago next season and the other is not. 

Johnson finished his third season in Chicago with the most goals he’s ever had in a campaign wearing a Hawks sweater. The centermen collected 17 goals with 14 assists in 67 games played. Battling injury is something Johnson was accustomed to these last three seasons in the Windy City. The 67 contests in 2023-24 were the most Johnson played in with the Hawks after getting traded over from Tampa Bay a few years ago.

After speaking with the media, it appears Johnson is looking for something different entering next season. The 33-year-old recognizes that his time in the league is coming up soon and the end goal to compete for another Stanley Cup is a difficult feeling to ignore. Johnson won two cups in his time with Tampa Bay and surely wants to get back to that stage again. Unfortunately for Chicago, they aren’t at that point in their rebuild yet. 

Blackhawks News: Tyler Johnson Wants to Sign With A Contender

Blackwell participated in 44 games with the Hawks this past season. The journeyman joined the club in mid-December after missing 10 months with a sports hernia injury. In his second year with the club, Blackwell posted 8 goals and 4 assists in those 44 games. It’s the veteran's ability to play fast and aggressively that the organization likes about him. Blackwells’ scrappiness earned him a lot of love from fans after his long battle to return to the ice. 

The 31-year-old had a different response than Johnson when talking about next year. Blackwell has a desire to come back to Chicago but is unaware of what management is looking to do moving forward. 

Only time will tell for what General Manager Kyle Davidson will do with free agency this summer. Some speculate that the Hawks won’t be super aggressive in the open market, but that doesn’t apply to the team’s pending free agents. The organization is looking to take another step forward to competing, and whether guys like Blackwell or Johnson fit the mold in this next step of the rebuild is yet to be determined. 

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