With the resigning of restricted free agent Marcus Kruger, the Chicago Blackhawks have pretty much wrapped up their offseason moves. The Blackhawks have a full roster and just over $1 million in cap room, according to Capgeek. That means general Stan Bowman won’t have to do too much work this offseason after a hectic two weeks. Bowman was busy two weeks ago at the draft when he traded Dave Bolland and Michael Frolik for a combined five draft picks. The moves freed up cap space to extend Bryan Bickell for $4 million per year over the next four seasons. Then Bowman and the Blackhawks began to retain their own restricted and unrestricted free agents, and brought in a familiar face for the backup goalie role.
Before free agency began on July 5, the Blackhawks resigned defenseman Nick Leddy to a two year contract worth $2.7 million per season. Leddy improved in his third season in Chicago. He didn’t face as much pressure on a third pairing this season and displayed some promising moments carrying the puck. The contract was fair for both sides in a two-year deal. The Blackhawks get Leddy on an affordable deal and Leddy has a chance to get better and sign a more lucrative deal in summer 2015.
Two players who signed similar two-year contracts before this regular season were Montreal Canadien’s P.K. Subban and New York Ranger’s Michael Del Zotto. Subban’s cap hit is $2.875 million and Del Zotto’s is $2.55 million. Leddy plays a similar offensive-minded game as Subban and Del Zotto. Subban went out this season and won the Norris Trophy, which means he will cash in big time in his next contract. Think somewhere in the range of $6-7 million if he continues to play well in 2013-2014. Leddy won’t win a Norris Trophy in the next two seasons but he can continue to develop and earn a big contract.
On July 5, the free agent frenzy began and the Blackhawks didn’t take part in the silly contracts. One reason was because of cap space, but also the free agent pool wasn’t deep this summer. The Blackhawks resigned center Michal Handzus to a one-year, $1 million deal and Michal Rozsival to a two-year deal with a annual cap hit of $2.2 million. With an 82-game season coming up, injuries will happen, so it doesn’t hurt to keep veterans to mentor some of the younger players.
The surprise of free agency was bringing goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin back to Chicago. The “Bulin Wall” four years in Chicago after the lockout that wiped out the 2004-2005 season. He inked a one-year deal with a cap hit of $2 million to backup Corey Crawford.
Most recently the Blackhawks resigned Marcus Kruger to a two-year deal. It was revealed today that Kruger’s yearly cap hit is $1.325 million, which is lower than I expected. Kruger was a key penalty killer for the Blackhawks last season and I can see him getting a shot of replacing Bolland as the third line center.