The Chicago Blackhawks aren't in cap hell anymore. That said, they only actually have 10 forwards under contract for next season, so they still need to make use of their cap space and sign a couple of players.
Thomas Vanek is a name that popped up on the market a year earlier than expected. The Minnesota Wild had signed the 32-year-old to a three-year deal worth an annual average value of $6.5 million, but elected to buy him out before the final year of his deal began.
Vanek scored 18 goals and 23 assists for 41 points through 74 games for the Wild this past season: not terrible numbers, but seventh on the team in scoring. For a guy with the fourth-highest cap hit on the team to do that much? You can see why he was bought out.
Which leaves Vanek a free agent - and one the Hawks have interest in.
Vanek definitely isn't going to cost $6 million again. Throw in the fact that he's now getting extra coin from his buyout and has never won in his career, and the Hawks could be an appealing target for him. He could make a modest (for him) salary - with the chance to not just rejuvenate his career, but win.
He's a bit on the older side, but Vanek is a really solid scorer, and just one season removed from a 50-point year. So if he comes at an affordable price, what's the downside? Though this would rely on him being affordable to begin with - and if Brian Campbell truly does want to return to Chicago, Vanek may not be within the Hawks' price range at all.
Vanek hasn't been a fantastic possession player - he's been negative relative to his teams since he was a member of the Buffalo Sabres - but if he can bring high-end scoring talent at a relatively cheap price, is that a risk worth taking?