Chicago Blackhawks: Free agency

Kane, Toews have Hawks positioned well

July, 9, 2014
7/09/14
12:45
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews have shared their NHL journey ever since they first took the ice together for the Chicago Blackhawks and combined their talents to produce a goal on Oct. 10, 2007.

It marked the beginning of their success together. The ending is still nowhere in sight.

[+] EnlargePatrick Kane, Jonathan Toews
Jonathan Kozub/NHLI/Getty ImagesThe careers of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews will be tied together for eight more years.
Kane and Toews continued to align their NHL careers Wednesday by both agreeing to eight-year contract extensions which a source says are for $10.5 million per year, keeping them Blackhawks through the 2022-23 season.

Their arrival in 2007 represented hope for an Original Six organization which had fallen on hard times for nearly a decade. They haven't disappointed since.

Over the past seven seasons, Kane and Toews have played in nearly 500 regular-season games together. After four consecutive sub-.500 seasons prior to their rookie season, the Blackhawks have since gone 309-163-68 with them. The two players have combined for 933 regular-season points, including 375 goals.

As good as they've been in the regular season, they've been even more clutch when it's mattered most in the playoffs. They returned the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2009 after five seasons of failing to do so and immediately helped them to the Western Conference finals. A year later, they both raised their first Stanley Cup and ended the franchise's 49-year championship drought. They've since led the Blackhawks to a second Stanley Cup and made them a perennial contender.

From Day 1, they have accomplished it all together and never looked to outshine or outdo the other. While they already have money and fame, they could have even more. All it would have taken is one slightly larger ego, and they may have never agreed to identical five-year, $31.5 million contract extensions the first time around and certainly not their newest contracts.

Kane and Toews are being paid like superstars, but they could have certainly asked for more and would have had their share of more significant offers to choose from if they had waited to go onto the free market after next season. They left money on the table, allowing the Blackhawks some cap flexibility. The Blackhawks may have to eventually let some core pieces go and turn to their prospects who are NHL ready, but they should be Stanley Cup contenders for the foreseeable future.

The Blackhawks' main objective with that additional money will be re-signing Brandon Saad to a new contract. Saad will be a restricted free agent after next season, and there has to be some fear another team will come along with an offer sheet if he's allowed to get that far. Considering he's 21, has shown improvement in each of his first two seasons and the cap is expected to rise, Saad could fetch somewhere between $4-7 million a season.

Kane and Toews permitted their careers to be harmonious, realizing their opportunity in Chicago is rare and can ultimately elevate them to a special place in NHL history.

Kane, at 25 years old, and Toews, at 26, didn't attach themselves together through their athletic primes and into their 30s to make a run at just one or two more Stanley Cups in Chicago. They're out to deliver to the Blackhawks what Michael Jordan once bestowed upon the Chicago Bulls.

Like Jordan, to honor Kane's and Toews' shared success and shared commitment to the Blackhawks, the organization will undoubtedly unveil matching statues of them outside the United Center whenever they decide to retire. It'll be a fitting end to their NHL journey, as they'll have a permanent place on Madison together side by side.

Hawks sign Nikolai Khabibulin

July, 5, 2013
7/05/13
5:58
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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The Chicago Blackhawks signed Nikolai Khabibulin to a one-year contract to join the team as a backup goaltender, the team announced Friday.

The 40-year-old Khabibulin was an unrestricted free agent after playing the last four seasons with the Edmonton Oilers. He was 4-6-1 with 2.54 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage in 12 games last season. He played with the Blackhawks from 2003-09.

Corey Crawford and Ray Emery shared starting goaltender duties for the Blackhawks throughout the regular season last season. Crawford started all of the playoff games.

Emery became an unrestricted free agent on Friday and signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Blackhawks signed 24-year-old Finnish goaltender Antti Raanta to a one-year contract in June. Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman recently said he was unsure if Raanta would be ready for the NHL next season due to the transition from European hockey.

Hawks re-sign Handzus, Rozsival

July, 5, 2013
7/05/13
12:42
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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The Chicago Blackhawks re-signed center Michal Handzus and defenseman Michal Rozsival on Friday.

Read the entire story.

Flyers sign goalie Emery to 1-year deal

July, 5, 2013
7/05/13
11:55
AM CT
By ESPN.com news services
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The Philadelphia Flyers have filled a need at goalie a couple weeks after buying out Ilya Bryzgalov, signing Ray Emery to a one-year contract, the team announced.

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Podcast: Bickell talks new contract

July, 1, 2013
7/01/13
4:21
PM CT
By ESPNChicago.com
ESPNChicago.com
Bryan Bickell joins "Waddle & Silvy" to discuss his new contract with the Blackhawks.

Play Download

Click here for more audio from ESPN Chicago.

Bryan Bickell gets 4-year deal

June, 30, 2013
6/30/13
7:37
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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The Chicago Blackhawks re-signed forward Bryan Bickell to a four-year contract on Sunday, the team announced.

Bickell will make $16 million over the four seasons, a source told ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun.

Read the entire story.

Bickell open to discount to return

June, 27, 2013
6/27/13
3:45
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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Bryan BickellAP Photo/Jim PrischingBryan Bickell enters free agency coming off a stellar run in the playoffs with 17 points.
CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell said Thursday he'd like to resign with the Blackhawks and would consider giving them a hometown discount.

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"You've got to do what makes you happy," Bickell said Thursday at the United Center. "I know there are a lot of good teams around this league, and there are a lot of teams you won't have as much fun if I stayed here. This is a great city. I enjoy it here. I got drafted here. I think this is a second home for me. We're going to work on something and hopefully it works out for the best.

"Yeah, definitely (a hometown discount is possible). This is a great team. We have won two Cups in four years, and there's going to be many more. We have a great core of guys. It starts with the coaching and up in the office and the team. It's a great feeling to be a part of it."

Bickell, who becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 5, made $600,000 in the 2013 season and is expected to be worth $3 million or more a season on the free agent market after producing nine goals and eight assists during the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup run.


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GM hopeful Hawks can re-sign Bickell

June, 26, 2013
6/26/13
4:25
PM CT
By ESPNChicago.com
ESPNChicago.com
Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman is hopeful the team can re-sign playoff hero Bryan Bickell, who will be a free agent this summer.

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Playoffs impacting summer goalie market

May, 22, 2013
5/22/13
11:00
AM CT
Custance By Craig Custance
ESPN Insider
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Ray Emery and Corey Crawford Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images
In 2011, knowing they wouldn't be able to keep Ilya Bryzgalov, the Phoenix Coyotes prepared a list of replacements. Mike Smith, then with the Tampa Bay Lightning, was at the top. They loved his size, how he battled and his ability to play the puck. Because of their time together in Dallas, Dave Tippett knew he'd be a great fit.

That year, Smith struggled with Tampa during the regular season with an .899 save percentage and 2.90 goals-against average but for the Coyotes, that didn't matter. They knew what they were getting and a down year only meant he came cheaper.

Then came the playoffs.

The Lightning made an unexpected run to the Eastern Conference finals and Smith started getting playoff time spelling starter Dwayne Roloson that showed his confidence was back and just how good he could play in pressure situations. That postseason, Smith played three games, with a save percentage of .958. He allowed just two goals on 48 shots.

The Coyotes started to fear that Smith's playoff success might earn him more playing time and drive his asking price too high for their budget. That never happened and they signed him to a very reasonable two-year deal that is set to expire this summer.

But the playoffs can completely change the perception of a goalie and what he can demand in his next contract. It can also change how a team approaches their goaltending situation the following summer.

And two goalie situations playing out in the postseason for Pittsburgh and Chicago could help shape an interesting summer goalie market.

When Marc-Andre Fleury struggled to start the playoffs for the Penguins, Tomas Vokoun came in and steadied the ship in round 1. He's been a calming veteran presence and is a big reason the Penguins' game has settled. It's also raised questions about Fleury's future with the Penguins.

Read the entire story here.

Other teams' losses a gain for Hawks

July, 24, 2012
7/24/12
10:09
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Are the Chicago Blackhawks getting better simply because the rest of their division is getting worse?

Even with the announcement that the Nashville Predators have matched the offer sheet for captain Shea Weber, the Central Division has seen an exodus of star players. Rick Nash was traded from Columbus to the New York Rangers on Monday, placing the Blue Jackets in yet another rebuilding phase. The Hawks went 6-0 against Columbus last season with Nash. Somewhere, notorious Jackets’ killer Viktor Stalberg is licking his chops.

The Nash deal and Weber decision come on the heels of the Predators’ other great D-man, Ryan Suter, bolting for Minnesota, which came on the heels of the great Niklas Lidstrom retiring from the Detroit Red Wings. Talk about a division losing star power. But not one of those names played for the Hawks (or St. Louis Blues). So what does it all mean?

It means the obvious: the Hawks got better by doing nothing. At least within the division. Nashville was in trouble the moment Suter decided to leave, although it wouldn’t be smart to underestimate what Barry Trotz can do with lesser talent. The Weber saga just adds to their issues, but at least he’s locked up. It probably doesn’t give Nashville a ton of flexibility moving forward but losing two of the top defensemen in the league would have set them back years. As is, they need to replace Suter and so the Predators take a step back.

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Hawks missed, but so did Wings, Preds

July, 5, 2012
7/05/12
9:49
AM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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[+] EnlargeScotty Bowman
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastStan Bowman aimed high, and even though he missed, at least the Red Wings didn't fatten up on free agents.
The Blackhawks shouldn't feel too bad in losing out in the Zach Parise/Ryan Suter sweepstakes. After all, the Nashville Predators lost a key player in the deal and the Detroit Red Wings weren't able to acquire either one of the stars. Suter would have at least been a nice replacement for Niklas Lidstrom, who is retiring.

So who's worse off? Not the Hawks. And they gain in the division by subtraction.

It's simply not fair to say "Stan Bowman can't get it done" solely based on the two players signing in Minnesota, where Parise is from. Other teams offered more money -- more money in terms of cap space than the Hawks even have -- and still Suter and Parise went to Minnesota. They wanted to play together and they wanted to play near home -- Suter is from Madison, Wisc. -- and they were able to accomplish both. It remains to be seen if the Hawks could have pulled off something similar, but massive changes to the roster would have been coming if the duo came to Chicago instead.

Looking at the glass half-full the Hawks still don't have to do much heavy lifting this summer if they choose not to or are unable to. As has been well documented they have a full squad, one which can compete, and if things like special teams and goalie play improve --- then they might actually surprise some fans. Those two aspects getting better isn't wishful thinking -- necessarily. There is no guarantee but the Hawks can make the case they can be better than a year ago by staying the course. It doesn't mean you don't try to improve and that's what the Hawks attempted in recent days, in some big ways.

Martin Brodeur was offered a two-year deal, Suter and Parise were extended huge offers, but nothing came to fruition. These were long shot plays -- did anyone really think Brodeur was going to leave New Jersey after two decades? The point is you turn over every stone and if you come up short you can at least say you gave it your best shot.

Now, it's not completely unfair to ask why Chicago isn't the destination the Hawks might think it should be. And did the recent front office dysfunction play a part or did whispers about Joel Quenneville's job security trickle down to Suter or Parise? That would be a problem. But there is no indication that was the case, not that those players would admit to such. As is, when you're committing to 13 years you're probably not thinking the same coach is going to be there the whole time anyway.

So at the end of your holiday, ask this question: Would you rather be the Hawks today or the Predators or Red Wings? The answer doesn't get you a Stanley Cup but at least it should make you feel better on a day when only one fan base is ecstatic while others are left wondering ‘now what?'

Stan not worrying about free-agent misses

July, 5, 2012
7/05/12
9:34
AM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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Zach Parise, Ryan SuterGetty ImagesStan Bowman said the proximitiy to their hometowns influenced Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.
Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman confirmed Wednesday that his team made offers to high-profile free agents Ryan Suter, Zach Parise and Martin Brodeur before missing out on all three.

Suter and Parise signed with the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday morning, turning down offers from multiple teams, including the Hawks.

Read the entire story.
Zach Parise needed at least another night of sleep before picking a team to play for next season.

Parise said Tuesday that he hadn't made a decision and doesn't have a timetable for one soon after landing in his home state at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Read the entire story.

So far talks, not action for Blackhawks

July, 2, 2012
7/02/12
10:41
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Day 2 of NHL free agency brought plenty of rumors but little action -- at least when it comes to the big names who might be switching teams. The Blackhawks didn’t sign any of them but -- save for New Jersey, who re-signed goalie Martin Brodeur -- neither did anyone else. Which means there remains a chance for the Hawks to make a big acquisition before it’s all said and done.

New Jersey star and captain Zach Parise is the latest name to be linked with the Hawks, but as of Monday he decided to hold off on making a decision on where he will play for the foreseeable future.

[+] EnlargeParise
Andy Marlin/NHLI/Getty ImagesHotly-pursued free agent Zach Parise is still weighing his options.
"I'm getting closer but haven't made a decision. I haven't set any deadlines,” he said in Toronto on Monday afternoon.

So the waiting game continues for him and the other prize unrestricted free agent, Ryan Suter. Between the Predators defenseman, Brodeur and now Parise, the Hawks have seemingly been linked to all the big names.
So what’s going on with the team from West Madison Street? Give them credit, they aren’t letting a player slip by them that could help improve their team. At least not without trying.

Suter was the common name linked to the Hawks as free agency opened but the mutual interest faded quickly, either because of contractual concerns or some other unknown reason. At the same time that Suter was being wooed by teams, Brodeur quickly took center stage. Just days earlier the all-time leader in wins declared he would become a free agent after 19 years in New Jersey.

The Hawks aren’t looking to replace Corey Crawford with just anyone or at any cost, but Brodeur would have fit what they want: a short-term upgrade. If Tim Thomas had not decided to take a year off, a play for him would not have been a surprise. But gambling on Roberto Luongo isn’t just a small risk and trading for, say, Jonathan Bernier of Los Angeles, doesn’t guarantee an upgrade. No, Crawford moves to the background or is sent packing only if the Hawks know they are getting better and the price is right. But when the Hawks offered two years, according to a source, the Devils stepped up and Brodeur opted to return to New Jersey for his 20th season.

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Parise: Getting closer, but no decision yet

July, 2, 2012
7/02/12
5:09
PM CT
Strang By Katie Strang
ESPNChicago.com
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Coveted unrestricted free agent Zach Parise has yet to make a decision on where he will sign.

"I'm getting closer but haven't made a decision. I haven't set any deadlines," the former New Jersey Devil told reporters during an impromptu news conference outside of his agent's Toronto offices Monday night.

Read the entire story.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Patrick Kane
PTS GOALS AST +/-
64 27 37 10
OTHER LEADERS
GoalsP. Kane 27
AssistsP. Kane 37
+/-J. Toews 23
GAAC. Crawford 2.29