Top 10 former Blackhawks the team could use right now

The Hawks have seen plenty of stars come and go in the Toews/Kane era, who would they want back the most?

The NHL trade deadline is sneaking up, and though the Blackhawks might not be able to make too many moves this time around, it’s generally the time where GM Stan Bowman brings a familiar face back into the fold.

In that sense, we’re ranking the top 10 players from the Toews and Kane era that the Hawks could use most right now. Forget about the salary cap, or what it would cost to  make these trades, and instead just dream with us for a bit.

10) Kris Versteeg

This is too easy. He’s already had a few stints with the Hawks, can move up and down lines and generate some scoring chances. But his familiarity with Chicago’s system is really the only upside to bringing him back.

9) Antoine Vermette

The Hawks are pretty loaded up at center as is, but Vermette’s two-way skills and his penchant for winning faceoffs would never be undervalued. There's no doubt Chicago would’ve liked to have kept him after the 2015 season, but there isn’t too much room for him now as is. Plus he’s 34 years old and would be taking a spot away from a younger player who needs the ice time to develop.

8) Michael Frolik

There is simply no overstating how vital depth at forward was to the Hawks last three Cup victories. Frolik wasn’t just another bottom six forward with Chicago. He was a secret weapon of sorts. In the 2013 postseason he notched 10 points (3 goals, 7 assists) and took just six penalty minutes.

Oh, and he also gave us one of the greatest hockey gifs of all time.

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7) Trevor Daley

In his very short stint as a Hawk, Daley appeared in 29 games scoring just six points — all assists. It was very uncharacteristic for a defensemen fresh off a career-best 38-point season. After being traded to Pittsburgh he scored another 22 points. The Hawks were weak on the back end after they cut ties with Daley and they could certainly use him now.

For a Chicago team that’s entire offense is predicated on solid, puck-moving defenseman, Daley represents a rare miss at fitting into its system. Given the opportunity, you’d have to think head coach Joel Quenneville wants a do-over here.

6) Johnny Oduya

The pairing of Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson gave the Blackhawks unparalleled depth on defense and allowed the coaching staff to get creative with how they used Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. It was the unit no one needed to worry about. From 2012 to 2015, the duo combined for 93 points and could be trusted in every situation.

5) Andrew Shaw

No one is denying how good of a fit Shaw was in Chicago. Nor can anyone deny how much the Hawks coaching staff thought of him. But when you look at the roster as is, is Shaw the missing piece? Do they really need a brash (sometimes to the point of recklessness), energy player to play center right now?

Nope. The years Shaw had in Chicago were fantastic, but the team collectively filled the void he left. His return doesn’t help them at the moment.

4) Patrick Sharp

You could make the argument Sharp should be No. 1 on this list and it wouldn’t be all that hard. The Hawks desperately need a left winger to skate with Toews. More specifically, they need someone who can get to the right spots, bury a quick feed and make life easier for the Captain. Sharp has done all that in the past. There’s little doubt he couldn’t pick up right where he left off.

Sharp has also been prone to injury lately and is seeing rather low numbers because of it (6 goals, 6 assists in 26 games this season). Maybe pairing him back up with Toews sparks them both. More than likely there are better options.

3) Troy Brouwer

Brouwer was a well-respected role player during his time in Chicago whose stock soared once he left. The winger had two season of at least 30 points with the Hawks and hasn’t scored less than 33 points in any season since.

He’s a bonafide top-six skater who can excel at power forward. This is the type of player you want alongside someone like Toews. And when Quenneville puts his lineup in the blender, Brouwer is versatile enough to play a shutdown role on the third line or a depth role on the fourth. There’s no space wasted on him.

2) Brandon Saad

This is, by far, the most natural fit. The Hawks need size, scoring and familiarity up front with Toews. Saad gives them all of that plus youth. He brought a different kind of energy to the top line and has only developed into more of a complete player since being traded to Columbus.

Saad scored 31 goals and totaled 53 points last year. He should eclipse that rather easily this season. Chicago would take him back in heartbeat if it could.

1) Dustin Byfuglien

Six years after Byfuglien’s departure, the Hawks have yet to find anyone who comes close to replicating his skill set. He remains Quenneville’s best project and embodies his dream player. Byfuglien is a solid stay-at-home defenseman with a booming slap shot and even more thunderous checking. He can also shift up and play forward, providing the support someone like Toews needs. He’s got playoff experience and knows the system. He was the Hawks’ Swiss Army Knife.

Since leaving Chicago, Byfuglien has been named a four-time All-Star and has scored at least 45 points in five of his last six seasons — he missed hitting that mark in the lockout shortened season of 2012-13, but still managed 28 points in 43 games.

Byfuglien may not fit back in seamlessly with the Hawks, but he gives them a tool they’re familiar using, and have been without since 2010. Assuming Quennville uses him all over the ice (like he did before) Byfuglien would be one of the most important players on the team.