The Chicago Blackhawks made sure to keep their unofficial captain around for the middle stages of the rebuild when Nick Foligno agreed to a two-year contract extension.
Foligno might not be the offensive force he once was, but his leadership has been invaluable. He is sticking around to help guide the young players that the franchise hopes will become the core of the next great Blackhawks team.
The Chicago Blackhawks have three other players set for unrestricted free agency that they should try to extend to help Foligno build a great culture for the next great team.
However, it all comes down to the years these players will want. General manager Kyle Davidson wants to maintain salary cap flexibility during these rebuilding years. He is not going to give huge dollars for a long period. That is one reason Foligno's extension was such a good deal for the team.
The team did give him $9 million over two years, but his $4.5 million AAV is going to be off the books pretty quickly. It was not a salary cap-killing deal like Brent Seabrook's.
If these three players are favorable to a short-term deal, then the Blackhawks need to extend these three veterans...
The scrappy forward has been the shot in the arm this team has needed since he returned from an injury that cost him the second half of last season and two months this season. He immediately made an impact in his return game against Colorado. He laid a hit on Nate MacKinnon which he is probably still feeling.
He also made a big impact on the Hawks' most recent victory over Calgary with two goals and an assist. It was needed too as that was the first game the Blackhawks skated without rookie phenom Connor Bedard.
He must have worked on his offensive game while he was out as he has been much better with the puck since last season. Blackwell has been great on the power play too. The most important part is he is willing to shoot with 17 shots this month. The Hawks are playing a basic get-the-puck-to-the-net offensive system and his willingness to do that has kept the Blackhawks competitive since Bedard went down.
The fact that he plays hard every night is the big reason the Hawks need to keep him around during the rebuilding phase. They need a hard-nosed player on the ice to show the young studs you must bring it every shift.
He is currently a $1.2 million cap hit, so another two-year deal with a bump in pay would be reasonable.