The Chicago Blackhawks currently have 8 pending restricted free agents on their roster. RFA contracts can be quite simple for general managers. Often, a young player simply needs another year or two to show what they’ve got, so they are awarded a cheap, short-term contract. Other times, these contracts can be more difficult.
Some RFAs are arbitration-eligible. If a negotiation goes to arbitration, the player and team each make their case, and a neutral party determines the player’s contract. This happened this past off-season with Philipp Kurashev. Occasionally, teams want to lock their stud RFAs into long-term deals above current market value and hope the contract will turn into a bargain. Ottawa and Buffalo recently did this with defensemen Jake Sanderson and Mattias Samuelsson, respectively.
Finally, bridge deals are quite common, too, where a player signs around or below market value on a shorter deal and then hopes to either strike big on their next RFA contract or make it all the way to unrestricted free agency.
So, without further ado, let’s project the next contracts for the Hawks’ pending RFAs…
When the season started, GM Kyle Davidson was hoping Reichel would fill the second-line center role behind Connor Bedard and improve upon his tremendous 0.65 points per game from last season. If Reichel did this, Davidson would have loved to sign him to a max-term eight-year extension that would carry Reichel through a large chunk of his prime (and UFA-eligible) years. 47 games, three goals, and nine points later, Reichel is probably hoping to sign a two-year bridge deal in the $1-2 million range.