It’s been a busy morning and afternoon for the Chicago Blackhawks, who extended two forwards and learned their 2018 preseason schedule
Good news, Chicago Blackhawks fans: We have announcements of players who showed promise last season sticking with the team the following year. The tides sure do change when you don’t make the postseason.
Vinnie Hinostroza and John Hayden each agreed with the Blackhawks on two-year deals Friday. Hinostroza’s cap hit will be $1.5 million per year, while Hayden’s checks in at $750,000 per season.
The Blackhawks were able to avoid having to deal with both guys in a free agency setting in the beginning of July, instead locking up two youngsters on cost-effective deals.
Hinostroza tallied 25 points in 50 NHL games last season, bouncing around between various lines but using his speed and nose for the net, despite a small frame, to boost the Blackhawks’ forwards.
Hayden produced 17 points in 47 NHL games and was the most offensively inclined of the temporary fourth line that was Tommy Wingels (now traded) and Lance Bouma. Both Hayden and Bouma eventually ended up in the AHL before the Blackhawks’ 2017-18 campaign ended, with Hayden contributing 20 points across his time in the AHL this year.
I think both of these signings are good news for the Blackhawks, especially the Hinostroza one. The Blackhawks could benefit from guys who go to the net, but they really need to stick to the speed game they’re tilting toward. Having a guy who can do both, at $1.5 million a season, seems like a solid fit.
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Hayden at well under a million is also a good deal, as he shows some promise in a bottom-six role at the NHL level next season. That’s a good price for a guy of that stature.
Preseason schedule has been released
Before both of these contract signings were announced, the Blackhawks released their 2018 preseason slate.
A couple of the usual names are included in this six-game schedule. Let’s take a look:
Tuesday, Sept. 18: Chicago Blackhawks at Columbus Blue Jackets, 6 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 20: Chicago Blackhawks at Detroit Red Wings, 6:30 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 21: Chicago Blackhawks at Ottawa Senators, 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Sept. 25: Detroit Red Wings at Chicago Blackhawks, 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 27: Ottawa Senators at Chicago Blackhawks, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 29: Columbus Blue Jackets at Chicago Blackhawks, 7 p.m.
Once again, the Red Wings and Blue Jackets have cracked the schedule. But the Blackhawks have replaced the Boston Bruins with the Ottawa Senators this year.
Though these aren’t regular-season games, meaning the typical lineups won’t be in play outside maybe the last two games, this change is interesting. Not because of any sort of history between the Blackhawks and Sens, but because Ottawa’s team is in turmoil with the recent restraining order filed by the wife of Erik Karlsson against the girlfriend of Mike Hoffman.
The Sens could be in shambles when they face the Blackhawks in these preseason games. Chicago fans will be among those to get the first up-close look at how the Sens are going to respond to those bizarre happenings.
What’s interesting about this schedule otherwise is the road-road-road-home-home-home setup. The games usually alternate in some way, but that won’t be the case this time. Doesn’t really mean anything, other than the United Center staff will be busy that one week of September.