Chicago Blackhawks Prospect Chris Calnan To Be Free Agent
A Chicago Blackhawks draft pick from the 2012 class has decided to test the waters of free agency in the near future
The Chicago Blackhawks have been informed that forward Chris Calnan will opt for free agency. Scott Powers of The Athletic reported the story first. While all eyes are on the fate of defenseman Will Butcher, a Colorado Avalanche draftee who has said he’ll hit free agency as well, the Blackhawks will be losing one of their own picks.
The Blackhawks drafted Calnan in 2012 with the 79th overall pick. He is listed at 6-foot-2, shoots right-handed and is a right winger. He is physical forward who went about his business with a quiet style about him.
He is a big-bodied forward, much in the same way former Chicago draft pick Kevin Hayes was in college. The Blackhawks were and still are lacking in the physical forward department.
Calnan showed a lot of promised when the Blackhawks drafted him. However, injuries derailed his once-promising future with the Blackhawks.
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Before his senior season at Boston College, he had labrum surgery and two screws inserted into his ankle. Blackhawks prospect and Boston College teammate Chad Krys told The Athletic that if Calnan hit you on Saturday, you would still feel it on Monday. Despite the injuries, Calnan ranked 63rd on the NCAA top 100 prospects list. In four years at Boston College, he appeared in 156 games, scoring 24 goals and 32 assists.
AHL contract option
The Blackhawks wanted to keep Calnan in their system, but not sign him to an entry-level contract. The ’Hawks offered him an AHL contract, to keep an eye on him for another season and let him develop at the AHL/ECHL level. Calnan and his group chose free agency. Among the Blackhawks’ 2012 draftees, only Vinnie Hinostroza is currently with the big club.
The ’Hawks are currently using AHL contracts to keep Robin Press, Matt Tomkins and Darren Raddysh. Tompkins was also a 2012 draft pick.
Perhaps the most successful player of recent history to sign an AHL contract and turn it into an NHL contract was Andrew Shaw. Shaw was a fifth-round pick of the Blackhawks in 2011 but did not sign his ELC until 2012. He spent 38 games in Rockford on an AHL contract before joining the Blackhawks during the lockout season of 2012-13.
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So it is possible for players on an AHL contract to earn an entry-level contract, but Calnan wanted to take his talents elsewhere. He is following in the footsteps of two other forwards that Calnan said he respected and admired: Jimmy Vesey and Hayes. Both those forwards opted for free agency also.