Free agent signings have been around in the NHL for a while, but they took on a new meaning in 2005 with the implementation of the salary cap.
Just four years later - on July 1, 2009 - the Blackhawks made perhaps their best free agent deal, signing an eventual Hall of Famer, Marian Hossa, to a 12-year, $63 million contract.
Hossa was fresh off back-to-back trips to the Stanley Cup Final with two different teams, Pittsburgh and Detroit. The Hawks hadn't been to a Final in 17 years.
The forward had an immediate impact in Chicago, becomming the first player to appear in three straight finals with three different teams and helping to end a 49-year title drought for the Blackhawks in 2010 with 15 points (3G, 12A) in 22 playoff games.
In his nine seasons with Chicago before a skin condition forced the veteran into early retirement in 2018, Hossa compiled 415 points (186G, 229A) in 534 regular season games and ranks among the top dozen all-time Blackhawks in playoff and points.