Chicago Blackhawks Sign Lance Bouma, A Bottom-Six Forward

ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 15: Lance Bouma
ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 15: Lance Bouma /

After four free agent signings earlier in the day, the Chicago Blackhawks agreed to terms with former Calgary Flames forward Lance Bouma

The Chicago Blackhawks decided Saturday they weren’t satisfied with four free agent signings shortly after the period opened to complete such transactions. General manager Stan Bowman has now agreed to terms with former Calgary Flames forward Lance Bouma.

Bouma’s signing to a one-year deal followed the additions of forwards Patrick Sharp and Tommy Wingels, defenseman Jordan Oesterle and goaltender Jean-Francois Berube earlier in the day.

Bouma is a left-handed shooting center who is 27 years old. He’s spent parts of the last six seasons in Calgary, tallying 67 points in 304 games. He’s averaged 12 minutes of ice time in his NHL career, and he carries a bad 43.9 percent Corsi-for rating. So he’s a bottom-six forward at best.

Bouma likely won’t cost much, but the Blackhawks are certainly piling up contracts. He had a cap hit of $2.2 million each of the last three seasons, but considering he posted seven points in each of the last two campaigns, he’s due for a salary decrease.

Here’s an explanation from Bowman on why he acquired Bouma, courtesy The Athletic’s Scott Powers:

Well, that’s an explanation at least. Bouma also spent time on the penalty kill in Calgary (though social media reports indicate he wasn’t terribly effective in that role). The Blackhawks will need PKers moving forward, especially if and when Marcus Kruger is dealt.

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Looking at Chicago’s roster

The Blackhawks suddenly have a surplus of forwards on their active roster. Before any long-term injured reserve stint for Marian Hossa or any trade involving Marcus Kruger, the Blackhawks have 16 forwards who could be on the opening night roster.

This means the lines will certainly be in flux for some time, maybe until opening night. It also means the Blackhawks are even more likely to move Kruger now, as they just seem to be stockpiling forward talent.

Additionally, it also means the Blackhawks don’t think some of their younger guns are ready to start the 2017-18 season on the NHL roster. Unlike on defense and in the net, the Blackhawks actually have quite a few forward prospects who could see NHL time in the semi-near future. But it appears Bowman and Co. don’t want to expose them too early if they don’t have to.

Basically, the Blackhawks are playing a mish-mash game now while trying to ensure the future doesn’t get too wonky too quickly. It could make for some ugly hockey in 2017-18 … or things could still find a way of working out, considering the Blackhawks still have world-class talents like Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Brandon Saad and Artem Anisimov at forward alone.

What else could the Blackhawks be doing before opening night? There shouldn’t be much. Bowman also indicated he seems to have his defense somewhat set.

This would seem to indicate Brian Campbell‘s time in Chicago is done, which could mean his time in the NHL is over as well. On the goaltending side, the Blackhawks are set with Corey Crawford and Anton Forsberg covered by Berube.

Next: Blackhawks Sign 4 Early In Free Agency

Should be an interesting next few months for the Blackhawks, especially after the widely-rumored Kruger deal. How will coach Joel Quenneville work with all these new parts? Should be a show.