Tracking Chicago Blackhawks’ Upcoming Free Agents’ Staying Power

ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 6: Ryan Hartman
ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 6: Ryan Hartman /
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Several Chicago Blackhawks — both on the main roster and prospect side — will partake in a contract year during the 2017-18 season. But how many of them will return to the Blackhawks for the following campaign?

In the big four professional sports, everyone loves to talk about the contract year. It’s that time when an athlete is playing with hopes of getting a major pay increase in his next deal, whether with his current team or a new one. This situation has applied to various Chicago Blackhawks time and again.

And we’ll see plenty of that in the 2017-18 season. There are currently 17 guys under contract with the Blackhawks who are either restricted or unrestricted free agents following the upcoming campaign. That’s not to mention the four players currently in on professional tryout contracts.

But let’s stick with the ones who are truly under contract at this moment. We’ve spent and will continue to spend plenty of time projecting how they’ll fare with the Blackhawks, along with guys who aren’t in a contract year. But what about after the dust settles?

Today, I’m going to predict whether each of the aforementioned 17 guys stays is Chicago or hits the bricks after the 2017-18 season. These decisions will certainly have hopes/projections for 2017-18 factored in, but they’ll also have bearing in team needs and the player’s history with the organization.

Kyle Baun

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  • We’re starting off tough here. Baun was one of general manager Stan Bowman’s first real forays into courting a college free agent by promising him playing time. It hasn’t exactly worked out so far, as Baun has no points in five NHL games to his name.

    Not helping matters was Baun not staying healthy with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs during the 2015-16 season, which he started in Chicago. But 34 points in 74 games for the ’Hogs last season, when the team was pretty bad, is a nice look.

    Baun is 25 years old, and the fact he couldn’t crack Chicago’s lineup last season makes one think he’s entering Mark McNeill territory. Baun is arbitration eligible next offseason, but barring a really successful training camp later this month that leads to a surprise main roster berth, I think he’ll opt to move to a team he might have better NHL chances with.

    Does he return: No

    Lance Bouma

    I’m still not exactly sure why the Blackhawks signed Bouma. Some will tell you it’s because he likes to throw his weight around, is “gritty” and spent time on the penalty kill with Calgary last season.

    Considering his possession numbers are in the toilet (albeit with defensively-tilted zone starts) and his scoring stats have taken a dive from his 34-point 2014-15 campaign, Bouma is essentially around to fill a bottom-six role and maybe kill penalties while the Blackhawks let some youngsters get their minutes at Rockford.

    If Bouma is still around in 2018-19, it means one of two things: 1) He had a surprisingly strong 2017-18 season, or 2) The youngsters are flailing away in the minors. I wouldn’t complain about the former, but I also wouldn’t expect it either.

    Does he return: No