Veteran defenseman Brian Campbell has "serious interest" signing with the Blackhawks as a free agent this summer, according to Chicago Tribune's Chris Kuc. The former Chicago defenseman is set to hit the open market on July 1 after five seasons with the Panthers and even at his age would be an immediate upgrade to the Hawks' defense.
Campbell, 37, is coming off another strong year with Florida and looks like one of the top defensemen on the market. In 82 games in 2015-16, he recorded six goals and 25 assists while posting fantastic possession numbers (+5.7 Corsi relative) over 22-plus minutes per contest.
That's the kind of performance that would make him an ideal fit in Chicago, which is not really a surprise since Campbell thrived the last time he was here in 2010-11. The Hawks won a Stanley Cup with Campbell in 2010 before being forced to trade him away the next year due to salary cap issues (heyo!) and he's continued playing well in Florida ever since. Even with some skills that might be in decline in his late 30s, Campbell is precisely the kind of player the Hawks should be targeting this summer.
The only question is whether the cap space will be there for him. Kuc says that Campbell would have to agree to a discounted contract -- taking less money to play in Chicago -- and that's always a dicey thing when the offers are ultimately on the table. There are clear benefits in terms of familiarity and an opportunity to win a Stanley Cup with the Hawks, but other teams could also sell him once he's talking to teams next month.
Of course, it's also likely that signing Campbell would prohibit the Hawks from re-signing Andrew Shaw, so that would also have to be a consideration here. However, if this comes down to a choice between Campbell and Shaw, should the former be willing to for less than $3 million, I think you clearly need to go for the defenseman. Not only does Soupy immediately re-establish the Hawks' top-four with Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson, but you also get to turn around and move Shaw for assets that you wouldn't get by merely re-signing him.
The opportunity to go with something like Keith-Hjalmarsson and Seabrook-Campbell as your top four, then some combination of TVR, Michal Kempny, Erik Gustafsson, Ville Pokka and Gustav Forsling filling out the bottom pair, would suddenly give me a bit more confidence about what this team could do with that depth on the back end.
So let's hope there's something here and Campbell really is willing to make some concessions to come to Chicago because that would a great move.