Despite five forwards being brought to the Chicago Blackhawks through a trade and a signing earlier this week, Stan Bowman clearly feels there’s a spot on the 2015-16 team for Andrew Desjardins.
The fourth-liner who showed his true value during the recently finished Stanley Cup playoffs agreed to a two-year deal Friday at $800,000 per season, according to multiple sources. The deal doesn’t do too much damage to the Blackhawks as far as the salary cap, though there are still issues to be resolved.
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Desjardins came over to Chicago at the 2015 trade deadline in a deal with San Jose for Ben Smith. Desjardins didn’t do much in his limited regular-season action with the Blackhawks. The soon-to-be-29-year-old played in 13 games and tallied two assists. But when he got the call to participate in the playoffs against Nashville, Desjardins stepped up in a primarily defensive role. He also posted a goal and three assists in 21 games.
Desjardins’ agent told Chicago Sun-Times Chicago Blackhawks beat writer Mark Lazerus that Desjardins “loves it there,” referring to Chicago. So it’s nice to see that a guy who enjoys playing for the organization willing to take a team-friendly deal to stick around. His willingness to stick to puck carriers and commit to strong forechecking makes him a stellar option for the Blackhawks’ fourth line.
Da Windy City
This signing, though not for a great deal of money, could have a big impact on what needs to be done with the rest of Chicago’s roster before Opening Night. Marcus Kruger remains unsigned, and his presence on Chicago’s fourth line is still critical. Kruger is likely the next target for signing, unless the Blackhawks are serious about squeezing Johnny Oduya in on defense. Considering Oduya hasn’t signed anywhere else yet, it’s possible Bowman has talked to him and/or his agent about a potential deal.
There’s also, of course, the salary cap. The Blackhawks are currently above the salary cap at by $400,000, according to Hockey Buzz, although that’s with new signee Viktor Tikhonov‘s contract against the cap. Still, the movement of multiple players remains necessary, likely starting with Bryan Bickell and Kris Versteeg.
On top of that, the Blackhawks now have a pile of fourth-liners that will likely only grow. Desjardins, Jeremy Morin, Corey Tropp and Andrew Shaw are all guys who have played on a fourth line and can again. Kruger and Joakim Nordstrom also remain unsigned. Might it be possible the Blackhawks roll two checking-focused lines next season, or does Bowman have something up his sleeve?
Plenty remains to be shaken out, but for now we welcome Desjardins back to the Blackhawks.