Another day, another professional tryout contract offered by the Chicago Blackhawks. That’s how the saying goes, right?
Well that’s how it’s worked the last couple days for Stan Bowman and Co. One day after veteran blueliner Jan Hejda agreed to a PTO deal with the Blackhawks, former Boston Bruins forward Daniel Paille signed a similar agreement with Chicago. The deal was announced late Sunday by multiple outlets.
As a quick refresher, a PTO contract limits the number of games that a player can appear in at 25. After that point, the player either must be signed to a formal contract or be released.
Paille should be best remembered by Blackhawks fans as the guy who made sure Chicago wouldn’t sweep the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Yes, Paille tallied the game-winning goal in the second outing of the Blackhawks-Bruins championship series.
Of course, that’s not all Paille did in 5 1/2 seasons with the Bruins, which were preceded by 4 1/2 seasons in Buffalo. The 31-year-old winger played in 71 games last season, tallying six goals and seven assists to go with a minus-9 rating for a Bruins squad that missed the Stanley Cup playoffs. Paille was frequently a bottom-six forward with Boston.
In his career, Paille has accounted for 85 goals and 87 assists in 570 NHL games, as well as a plus-17 rating, 135 penalty minutes and a 12-percent shooting mark. He also has his name on the Stanley Cup as a result of Boston’s 2012 championship. In 75 playoff games across six seasons, Paille has nine goals, 10 assists and a plus-2 rating.
So, what does Paille’s signing mean? With Hejda, there was a clear sign, as the Blackhawks are lacking in a veteran presence on the back end of their blue line, which contains the likes of Trevor van Riemsdyk, David Rundblad and perhaps Ville Pokka and/or Victor Svedberg. Paille is another forward on a team that has stockpiled them this offseason.
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Or perhaps not. While there’s obviously no guarantee Paille makes the Blackhawks roster at the conclusion of training camp, which starts Friday at the University of Notre Dame, he could be an important piece for the club.
The Blackhawks are currently a team without much depth at left wing, a position which Paille plays. Artemi Panarin, Bryan Bickell, Viktor Tikhonov and Andrew Desjardins are the only expected left wingers at this point, with other guys potentially moving to the spot on various lines. On top of that, while Friday’s Marcus Kruger signing makes it seem as though the offseason is complete for the Blackhawks, minus whatever happens regarding Patrick Kane, there is also no guarantee Bowman is done moving players.
What if Bickell’s $4 million cap hit is somehow moved before the season starts? What if some other minor role players are moved along with it? That’s where Paille comes in. Should the roster moves really be done, at least at forward, Paille can be a solid fill-in option should someone get hurt at among the Blackhawks.
Just looking at the salary cap situation, the Blackhawks are currently $750,000 below the cap, according to spotrac.com, and that’s without Panarin’s salary on the books. With Hejda and Paille both on PTO deals, it’s unlikely both of them could be given longer-term deals on the big-league roster without other players moving, either away from the organization or down to Rockford. So the Paille move feels a lot like a depth move should another trade occur or if an injury happens. Regardless, it’s not a particularly dangerous move for the Blackhawks.
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