What RFAs Should the Blackhawks Re-sign For Next Season?
By Andrew Neave
It's been an eventful couple of weeks for the Chicago Blackhawks, with the team finding out last Monday they were going to pick first overall in this year's NHL Draft. Then the following Wednesday, news came out that they have signed goalie Arvid Soderblom to a two-year contract extension with a $962,500 salary cap hit. This got me to think about what other RFAs could and should be signed..
First up, we have Joey Anderson, whom was acquired from Toronto. Anderson did well when joining the Blackhawks. A useful player to have in your lineup that plays hard and can kill penalties. I would imagine that he gets signed to an extension and is put in a bottom-six role.
Austin Wagner was acquired from the Kings, but was injured at the time, he only managed to play seven games for the Blackhawks. Wagner plays a physical game and can look after his teammates if needed. I don't see Wagner getting a contract with the Blackhawks. I think they might offer him a two-way deal and he stays in Rockford. They have a young team so being around the young players could benefit them.
Philipp Kurashev I feel has been trying to prove himself his whole Blackhawks career that he is a legitimate NHL caliber player. He is still only 24 years of age and has great skating ability. He played on the power play and also the penalty kill this past season. With Kurashev, he shows glimpses of what he can do and be a real top 6 forward. My feeling is that the Blackhawks offer him another short term contract. I believe we need to see a little more from him before the Blackhawks can offer a longer term deal.
Caleb Jones is next up. He had a very up-and-down season with the Blackhawks, it's hard for a defenceman playing on a team that is looking to rebuild as the chances are you are going to be a bottom-half team in the league. Caleb Jones has a few things going for him. He can play on the left and right side of defence, which not all defenders can do. His brother Seth Jones is a crucial factor in any decision. The feeling is he will be back next season. It will be tough given all the defencemen we have, but a short-term deal with a low cap hit would have both sides happy.
The last up is Ian Mitchell. People had high exceptions for him when he signed, and he hasn't lived up to that. He's played in more of a rotational role this year, being the seventh defenceman or playing to cover injuries. I really wanted Mitchell to be a key player going into the rebuild and that just has not happened. My heart tells me he signs a short-term deal, maybe a two-way contract. My head tells me his time in Chicago is up. I think a change in scenery will do him good moving forward.