Brian Campbell is a Chicago Blackhawk once more
It’s probably the least surprising news of the NHL’s busy free agency day, but it’s news nontheless. The Chicago Blackhawks added defenseman Brian Campbell on a one-year deal worth about $2 million, according to reports.
This comes after days — maybe even a couple weeks — of speculation that Campbell wanted to re-sign with one of his old teams on the cheap. Campbell won his only Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2010, assisting on Patrick Kane‘s championship series-winning goal against the Philadelphia Flyers.
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In additional defenseman news, the Blackhawks decided to buy out the last year of David Rundblad‘s two-year deal. This will cost them a cap hit of $133,000 in 2016-27 and $183,000 in 2017-18. On top of that, General Manager Stan Bowman agreed to deals with minor league forwards Sam Carrick and Pierre-Cedric Labrie.
Campbell is 37 years old and has spent his last five seasons with the Florida Panthers. Interestingly enough, it seems the Panthers offered Campbell a better price …
… so Campbell really wanting to play in Chicago again was certainly true. This could wind up being a Michal Rozsival-type situation where Campbell keeps coming back on one-year deals until the Blackhawks don’t want to give them out anymore or until Campbell retires. Only difference is, Campbell has much more to offer on the blue line than Rozsival at this point.
Campbell is a very capable puck-moving defenseman. He’s play in all of his team’s regular-season games each of the last five seasons, and he’s notched 20 or more assists in all but one season since the lockout of 2004-05.
Campbell potted six goals with 25 helpers last season in Sunrise while playing in all situations — even-strength, powerplay and shorthanded. He’s received votes in Byng Trophy and Norris Trophy voting each of the last two seasons, finishing 17th in the latter competition this year. And while his average time on ice last season (22:17) is down from his career high of 26:57 set two seasons ago, Campbell can still eat valuable minutes and play well with them.
This is pretty great value for the Blackhawks, getting Campbell at $2 million. He obviously believes this team can make a Stanley Cup run in 2016-17, and he may be hoping to go out of the league on a high note. It’s certainly a good move for the Blackhawks, who were playing with about 2 1/2 defensemen throughout parts of last season. Now, things look a little rosier.
You’ve got Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson, then some combination of Brent Seabrook, Michal Kempny, Campbell, Rozsival, Trevor van Riemsdyk and Erik Gustafsson. That doesn’t include any youngsters who may make an impression on coach Joel Quenneville in training camp (or the obligatory starting the regular season with Viktor Svedberg on the main roster).
That group will not include Rundblad, however, as the Blackhawks have decided they are done with him. After shuttling him between the press box and ice, then re-signing him to a two-year deal, then shipping him to Europe and the AHL, and then bringing him back for postseason play, Rundblad gets to find a new team. I’m sure he’s okay with that.
Rundblad’s buried cap hit of $100,000 is actually less than his bought-out cap hit for this year, so it’s a bit of an odd move by the Blackhawks. It’s not as if Quenneville was about to put Rundblad on the opening-night roster, so maybe they just really wanted to give the defenseman a fresh start.
While the official total is not nailed down at this moment, it appears the Blackhawks have somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.5 million in cap space left to work with after today’s decisions. Reports have had them among the teams looking at forward Thomas Vanek, but he may be more costly than the $1.5 million range.
Bowman has a press conference scheduled for later today, so he may be done making moves for the time being. But we should be pretty happy with his decision to bring in Campbell, and appreciative that Campbell turned down a larger offer to help the Blackhawks improve next season.
Of course, the Blackhawks were far from the only team making noise once the free agency period began at 11 a.m. Central time. A look at some other big moves, so far, from around the league.
— F Milan Lucic signs with Edmonton Oilers at seven years, $42 million total
— G James Reimer signs with Florida Panthers at five years, $3.4 million AAV
— F Andrew Ladd signs with New York Islanders at seven years, $5.5 million AAV
— F Loui Eriksson signs with Vancouver Canucks
— F David Backes signs with Boston Bruins at five years, $6 million AAV
— F David Perron re-signs with St. Louis Blues at two years, $7.75 million total
— F Frans Nielsen signs with Detroit Red Wings at six years, $5.25 million AAV
— D Aaron Ekblad extends with Florida Panthers at eight years, $60 million total
— F Kyle Okposo signs with Buffalo Sabres at seven years, $6 million AAV
— F Troy Brouwer signs with Calgary Flames at four years, $4.5 million AAV
— D John-Michael Liles re-signs with Boston Bruins at one year, $2 million
— F Eric Staal signs with Minnesota Wild at three years, $3.5 million AAV
— G Carter Hutton signs with St. Louis Blues at two years, $1.125 million AAV
— F Jason Chimera signs with New York Islanders at two years, $2.25 million AAV
— G Chad Johnson signs with Calgary Flames at one year, $1.7 million
— D Patrick Wiercioch signs with Colorado Avalanche
— G Alex Stalock signs with Minnesota Wild at one year
— G Jake Allen extends with St. Louis Blues at four years, $17.4 million total
— F Chris Stewart signs with Minnesota Wild at two years, $2.3 million total
— F Jamie McGinn signs with Arizona Coyotes at three years, $10 million total
— F Vernon Fiddler signs with New Jersey Devils
— D David Schlemko signs with San Jose Sharks at four years, $2.1 million per
— D Ben Lovejoy signs with New Jersey Devils at three years
— F Dale Weise signs with Philadelphia Flyers at four years, $9.4 million total
— F Viktor Stalberg signs with Carolina Hurricanes at one year
— F Yannick Weber signs with Nashville Predators
— G Al Montoya signs with Montreal Canadiens at one year
— D Victor Hedman re-signs with Tampa Bay Lightning at eight years, $7.875 million AAV
— D Dan Hamhuis signs with Dallas Stars at two years, $7.5 million total
— F Alexander Radulov signs with Montreal Canadiens at one year, $5.75 million
— F Darren Helm re-signs with Detroit Red Wings