Category Archives: Contract Signing

Story on Carter Hutton signing by Blackhawks

By Chris Block

On Friday, the Blackhawks officially signed Rockford IceHogs goaltender Carter Hutton to a one-year, two-way contract.  The deal is for the remainder of this season.  Hutton was immediately then reassigned to the IceHogs by the Blackhawks.

With the IceHogs, Hutton has a record of 10-8-0-2 and owns a 2.93 goals against average and .902 save percentage.  His 21 starts and 10 wins lead the IceHogs.  With the exception of one period of relief of Alec Richards during a late October call up while Alexander Salak was away tending to the birth of his first child, all of Hutton’s numbers have been accumulated since his recall on December 3rd.

In 9 starts in the month of January, Hutton went 7-1-0-1 posting a 1.86 GAA and .934 save percentage.

Hutton signed a one-year AHL contract with the IceHogs on August 1st.

Unlike the situation last season with Garnet Exelby, who had signed a professional try-out contract with Rockford, Read more »

Share

Hawks sign top picks McNeill and Danault, plus Shaw; Podcast Wednesday and more IceHogs notes

Mark McNeill – photo: HockeyBroad.com

By Chris Block

We’ve got TTMI~Radio coming up tomorrow night (Wednesday) January 4th over at BlogTalkRadio.com/TheThirdManIn.

Join us live at 8pm central for our annual New Years resolution and predictions extravaganza.  This show should be Super.

We’ll take a look at why the Blackhawks suck against the Oilers, what’s wrong with Dan Carcillo’s brain… how the Blackhawks don’t seem to care about the brains of Marcus Kruger, Brent Seabrook and others… and we’ll preview the week ahead, including the big matchups Thursday in Philly with the Flyers and back at home Sunday with the Red Wings.

Beer, Bacon & Malort

My good friends over at HockeeNight dot com will be hosting some Red Wings fans this Saturday night, January 7th, at Paddy Long’s in Chicago at 1028 W. Diversey.  That, of course, is on the eve of the Red Wings-Blackhawks matchup at United Center the next night.  Hmm.  Beer, bacon and Malort… don’t mind if I do.

–I’ll have another column running in the Committed Indian this Sunday night.

McNeil, Danault gets deals

On Monday, the Blackhawks made official the signings of both of their 2011 1st round draft picks, centers Mark McNeill and Phillip Danault.

Both players will continue with their junior teams and likely be called to the Rockford IceHogs if those seasons end before Rockford’s does, which at this point looks like it’ll be on April 14th. Read more »

Share

Patrick Sharp’s five year extension

Negotiations tend to be easy when each side’s interests are one in the same.

Patrick Sharp has said he didn’t want to leave Chicago.  Now, the Blackhawks stepped up to ensure Sharp wouldn’t have an opportunity to make that choice.

….for the next six years anyhow.

On Wednesday, Stan Bowman locked up Sharp through the 2016-17 season with a five-year $29.5 million contract extension.

This season Sharp will play out the one remaining year on a four-year $15.6 million contract he signed back in January of 2008.  Sharp will make $4.2 million in salary this season and spike up to $6 million in the first year of his new extension for the 2012-13 campaign.

It’s a great day for everyone involved.  Sharp is low maintenance, charismatic, widely popular and too good to quickly replace.  Unlike in the case of Brian Campbell, the organization has no one immediately prepared to step into Sharp’s position either this year or next.  Jeremy Morin could be that player on the wing at some point and Mark McNeil or Brandon Pirri could take the second line center position eventually.  Time will tell.  But losing Sharp was never an option or the right thing to do. Read more »

Share

Mathis Olimb signs with Frolunda, Swedish Elite League: Kyle Hagel moves on as well


It appears Norwegian prospect Mathis Olimb‘s stay in the Chicago Blackhawks’ organization will be a short one.

On Friday, Olimb signed a two-year contract with the Frolunda Indians of the Swedish Elite League (Elitserien).  Olimb was scheduled to become a restricted free agent on July 1, having completed the one-year agreement he signed with the Blackhawks back on June 17, 2010.

Olimb returns to Frolunda after having spent the 2009-10 season with the Indians.  In 55 games with Frolunda in ’09-10, Olimb collected 9 goals and 34 points and another goal and four points in seven postseason contests.  Collectively, Olimb was a +1 performer in those 62 games.

After nearly two months on the sidelines in recovering from off season shoulder surgery, Mathis Olimb amassed 10 goals and 22 assists in 59 games as a Rockford IceHog.  Olimb was also a plus-8 and finished with a respectable, yet unspectacular 9.62% shooting percentage.

At five-foot ten and 175 pounds, Olimb figured as a long-shot to be re-signed by the Blackhawks.  At 25, he doesn’t have too much room left to grow and for his size, he doesn’t figure into the score sheet enough to expend a spot on the 50-man roster.

Other notable players with North American experience, signed to Frolunda for 2011-12 are Joel Lundqvist (Dallas Stars), PJ Axelsson (Boston Bruins) and Christian Backman (Blues, Rangers, Blue Jackets).

Olimb is currently playing in the IIHF World Championship tournament as a member of Team Norway.  His younger brother Ken-Andre Olimb is also competing for Norway.

KYLE HAGEL MOVES ON

In news shared with us by Mike Peck on our TTMI podcast Monday night, Kyle Hagel, the gritty Princeton University graduate who spent 2010-11 with the IceHogs on an AHL-contract, signed a two-way contract with the St. Louis Blues over the weekend.

In some respects, Hagel was the heart and soul of the Rockford IceHogs this past season.  His effort and passion both on and off the ice made him a favorite in many fans, teammates and scout’s eyes.

Hagel posted 5 goals and 8 assists (-11 plus/minus) in 77 games with the IceHogs.  But those numbers come in primarily fourth line duty.  Towards the end of the season Hagel moved up to the third line.  He’s versatile enough to play both center and the wing.  Hagel’s 245 penalty minutes ranked 5th in the AHL and second among AHL rookies.  His 31 regular season fights led the IceHogs’ team by a wide margin and ranked amongst the top in the American League.  Hagel had come into his own by the end of the season on a line with Evan Brophey and Igor Makarov, which was a key energy unit and focal point in the IceHogs’ late season turnaround.

The loss leaves Rockford with Brandon Bollig as the prime candidate to fill Hagel’s roll.  Bollig himself had a hard time getting into the line up in 2010-11, primarily due to Hagel’s performance, but also because Bollig didn’t show much offensively and took a lot of bad penalties when he did get into the lineup.

ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com

Share

Dylan Olsen signs with Blackhawks, leaving school according to report

The Duluth News Tribune is reporting the Blackhawks have signed their 2009 1st round draft choice (28th overall) defenseman Dylan Olsen to a three-year entry level contract.

Olsen is a sophomore at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, currently one of the top five teams in Division-I college hockey.  Once a collegiate player signs a professional contract, he or she becomes ineligible to play collegiate athletics.

For Olsen, 19, the decision to leave his Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs teammates mid-season was academic related.  He turns 20 this coming Monday.

Kevin Pates of the Duluth paper is reporting Olsen will report to the Rockford IceHogs, presumably once the World Junior U20 championships conclude in Buffalo next week.

Olsen has been paired on the first defense unit with Team Canada captain and Nashville Predators’ prospect Ryan Ellis in the tournament.

Its being reported that Olsen’s contract calls for an NHL salary of $525,000 in his first year, $700,000 in the second and $810,000 in the third.  Olsen will earn the standard $67,500 while in the minors.  Each year has a signing bonus of $90,000 tacked on to it.

UMD head coach Scott Sandelin expressed his disappointment, but also gave clarity to the situation in an interview with Pates:

“Dylan was having a good year and we were expecting a better, more confident player to return to us after the experience of the junior tournament,” said UMD coach Scott Sandelin. “We knew how much making Canada’s team meant to him and that it could only help his play. We’re just disappointed he chose to make a change at midseason.”

Sandelin did note that recent academic developments would likely have left Olsen ineligible for the second semester.

Olsen is the second Blackhawks draft pick in the last two years to leave school early due to poor academics.

In January of 2009, University of New Hampshire defenseman and team captain Joe Charlebois was forced off his team in the middle of his senior season when he was ruled academically ineligible for the remainder of the season.  Charlebois subsequently signed his first pro contract with the Blackhawks and reported to the Rockford IceHogs.  Charlebois has since left the Blackhawks organization.

Olsen also becomes the third Chicago prospect this year to leave his college team early, joining Brandon Pirri (R.P.I.) and Nick Leddy (Minnesota) who both left school after their freshman seasons.

Olsen’s arrival clouds and already cluttered IceHogs’ blue line.  Assuming Nick Leddy returns to Rockford at the completion of the World Junior tournament, he’ll join Olsen, Brian Connelly, Garnet Exelby, Ryan Stanton, Ivan Vishnevskiy, Simon Danis-Pepin, Shawn Lalonde and Wade Brookbank (who splits time on the wing).  Not to mention the possibility of Jassen Cullimore returning at some point.

The Olsen signing does raise one issue roster-wise.  The Blackhawks are now at the maximum 50-man organizational roster limit.  Which means any acquisition the team makes must involve a player moving off the current chart of 50.

ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com

Share

Niemi Number, Amonte 40, Tonight’s TTMI~Radio

First off, a reminder. Tonight on TheThirdManIn~Radio, I’ll be pleased to welcome John and BlackhawksBob, writers over at the outstanding Blackhawks blog, FifthFeather.com.

Tonight’s show airs live at 8pm (central) and you can listen live at BlogTalkRadio.com/TheThirdManIn. And if you can’t join us live, the show will be posted on this site and at BTR shortly after we go off the air.

We encourage your phone calls, emails or Tweets as well. The number to call into the show is listed on the show page during the stream.

I’m sure its rather obvious the main topic of tonight’s discussion, so I don’t feel the need for a teaser here. But we’ll also cover how the many alterations to the Cup Champions roster will impact the Blackhawks chance at a repeat; this weekend’s Blackhawks Convention; how the Blackhawks still managed to lose money in 2010 and the McDonough Monologues.

— Saturday, we learned of the arbitrator’s decision in the contract case between the Chicago Blackhawks and their Stanley Cup champion goaltender, and restricted free agent, Antti Niemi. By lunchtime today, we’ll know what the Hawks think of it.

Niemi was awarded a one-year $2.75 million deal for the upcoming season. Next summer he will be scheduled to become an un-restricted free agent.

Over the weekend rumors surfaced of the Blackhawks allegedly having made an unofficial side-agreement with Dallas Stars UFA goaltender Marty Turco for one-year and anywhere between $1.5 to $2.0M. Turco, a nine-year NHL veteran, turns 35 on August 13th. Read more »

Share

Setting the Leddy record straight

– Before we get started, as a reminder, or for those who don’t know, the NHL Network tonight will be airing Game 4 of the 1992 Stanley Cup Final between the Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins at 7pm central time.  This is a continuation in the network’s Raising the Cup series.  At the time, this was the greatest game I had ever seen live and still would rank in my top 3 or 5.  This is the Dirk Graham hat-trick game.  Pittsburgh shut out the Hawks 1-0 in Game 3 at Chicago Stadium two nights prior.  Again, tonight, 7pm, NHL Network.  It replays at 12:30am Thursday, and again at 8am tomorrow morning.

– Look for the next edition of TTMI~Radio with Dieter Kurtenbach and myself late tomorrow.  It appears we’ll be in Antti Niemi/arbitrator waiting mode by that time, but there’s much more for us to discuss.

– Antti Niemi’s arbitration hearing is tomorrow.  No progress, apparently, has been made in talks between the Hawks and his agent to elude this process.  The Hawks can only afford to give Niemi so much under their current salary cap constraints.  Anything more than $2.5M would trigger another trade.  While its true the Hawks will have cheaper options in free agency should the arbitrator’s decision come down in Niemi’s favor, letting your rookie Stanley Cup Champion goaltender walk without receiving any compensation in return is a tough sell to 90% of the fan base.  Its possible a ruling could come as early as Friday, which would mean a decison on whether to accept the arbitration reward would have to come down before the convention closes.  Letting Niemi walk is not a good way to climax John McDonough’s sacred creation.  And for that reason and a few others, I just don’t see it as a real option.

Nick Leddy leaves Gophers, signs contract with Blackhawks

On Tuesday, news broke that Blackhawks prospect Nick Leddy would be leaving the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers as he has signed a professional contract with Chicago.

The contract Leddy signed is a standard three-year, entry-level contract that would pay him at a rate of $900,000 with the Blackhawks, or $67,500 while in the AHL with the Rockford IceHogs. Read more »

Share

Bryan Bickell and other things, like Hugh Jessiman

While the team hasn’t officially acknowledged this, the Blackhawks have re-signed left-side power-winger Bryan Bickell to a three-year, one-way NHL contract.

According to a report by Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times, Bickell will earn salary dollars of $500,000, 525,000 and 600,000 over the next three seasons respectively, while his “cap hit” (the average payout of the contract which comes down to total dollar value divided by length) will be $541,666 for each season.

Bickell, 24, who was a favorite of head coach Joel Quenneville in his limited opportunity with the club this past season and playoff, will become an un-restricted free agent at the end of the contract, summer of 2013.

It’s interesting Bickell’s agent would pin his client down to such a low figure for the next three years when Bickell has a big chance to play an integral role with the Hawks going forward.  The deal is a steal for Stan Bowman.  At worst, he has an affordable third and fourth line guy, salary-wise, being as cheap as they come.  Enthusiastically, we could come to know Bickell as one of the bigger “bargains” in the National Hockey League two and three years from now.

I find it hard to believe Bickell couldn’t have negotiated a better deal.  Two-years on a one-way for the same money he agreed to could have landed him in a position to enroll in the arbitration process in 2012, one year short of his UFA year (as it sits now in the current CBA, for players with expiring contracts who are 27 or older).  As it looks now, Bickell could stand to earn a million or considerably more after the next two seasons should he see good minutes and continue to progress.  While Bickell hasn’t shown near the same scoring touch, he’s not all that far behind Troy Brouwer in terms of iimpact he can make with this club.  Specifically with the departure of Dustin Byfuglien, Quenneville needs all the size he can get, and thus Bickell will see a lot of important minutes if he can carry his level of performance over from the past spring.  This is after all the same Bryan Bickell who fit in nicely in spots on a line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.  That said, this deal could wind up more regrettable for Bickell should the new CBA push the UFA age back, or forward, a year or more when the new bargaining agreement is drawn (hopefully) prior to the 2012-13 season.

This is the kind of contract a young Canadian kid thinks is great when he first signs it.  Then he changes agents two years later when he realizes he wasted a chance to make a lot more money at a young age.

Great deal for Stan Bowman.  For Bickell, we’ll wait and see.

Evan Brophey, Blackhawks 3rd round pick (67th overall) in the 2005 Draft, re-signed a 1-year deal on Thursday.  This also hasn’t been acknowledged by the Hawks.  There is a method to these things that go over the heads in hockey operations. Read more »

Share

Hossa Marries, Skille Signs, Smitty Splits, Niemi Notes and movie star supports Blackhawks

Marian Hossa was married in Slovakia on Saturday.  Story and pics here.  (thanks to reader Dave for link) 

– While the Blackhawks have made no official announcement yet, Adam Jahns of the Sun-Times reported Thursday that Jack Skille has agreed to a one-year contract that will pay him $600,000.  This is roughly a 29% pay decrease from his entry-level contract.  We talked about this on Thursday’s TTMI~Radio. 

Skille received a qualifying offer (standard 1-year offer at 110% rate of prior year’s salary) in late June but chose to negotiate down to give himself a more cap-friendly contract.  Because of it, Skille is now an odds-on favorite to make the NHL club.  His speed and shooting ability still make the 23 year old an enticing prospect, but he’s never shown an ability to apply those tools in the NHL, the way he has in the minors.  Before Viktor Stalberg‘s arrival, Skille was the natural replacement for Versteeg.  Skille can throw his weight around, but its not his strength and he’s been overwhelmed going that route when with the Hawks.  He figures in as a third-line guy, which means he has to score.  Trouble is, as a shooter, he’s predictable and one-dimensional.  To be successful, he must go into the danger areas and score dirty goals.  He did a better job of that last year than ever before, when he was mostly a perimeter player.  Depending on how close Stan Bowman cuts his roster under the cap, training camp may still wind down to a battle between Kyle Beach and Skille for that third-line spot.  Skille isn’t a fourth line player and Beach will start in Rockford if he cant win a spot with the top three lines.

– According to published reports, and also still unannounced, Russian winger Igor Makarov, 22, signed a two-year, two-way contract with the Hawks last week.  His cap hit (unconfirmed) is said to be $552,000.  Makarov needs a little work and will start in the AHL with Rockford.  He was an exciting prospect, but his progression has been stunted in limited playing time in the KHL the past two seasons.  Makarov will turn 23 in September.  In the times I’ve seen him, he’s shown to have a great shot and reasonably quick release.  There are a lot of politics involved in who does and who doesn’t get ice time in Russia, but you’d think if Makarov’s talents were at the level of an NHL-er or at least a top prospect, he’d have been given much more playing time. Read more »

Share

Doug Wilson, Sharks Swoop in on Hjalmarsson

Today, one of the Chicago Blackhawks all-time great defenseman, and current San Jose Sharks general manager, Doug Wilson offered restricted free agent blue liner Niklas Hjalmarsson a 4-year, $14 million dollar offer sheet.  The Blackhawks defenseman signed and accepted.

What happens now is the Blackhawks have a week to match this offer of 4 years at an average cap hit of $3.5M a season.

This is a no-brainer for Stan Bowman and his superiors.  The Hawks must match.  Should they not, the return is a San Jose 1st round draft pick as well as a third.

The trouble with that is this situation is completely different than the one the Boston Bruins benefited from last fall when they dealt Phil Kessel (who Bruins teammates felt was addition by subtraction) to the Maple Leafs and found themselves with the #2 overall pick and Tyler Seguin on 2010 Draft Day.

With Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski and Dan Boyle it’s highly unlikely the Sharks next 1st rounder winds up in the Draft Lottery.  Any return on the Sharks next draft pick would likely be 2 to 3 years away from competing in the NHL.

A cap hit of $3.5M a year is a hard pill to swallow and could possibly result in a sign (match San Jose’s offer sheet) and trade or the end of Antti Niemi.  Another option would be putting Dave Bolland or Patrick Sharp on the trade market.  The Hawks were hoping to lock Hjalmarsson down at around $2M a season, or no more than $2.5.

One thing to consider when figuring the Hawks off season spending option is their ability to spend and carry up to 10% over the salary cap ($5.94M over the $59.4M upper limit).

While most everyone anticipates the Blackhawks will hide Cristobal Huet’s $5.6M cap hit (two more seasons) in Rockford this fall should they not find a willing taker in a European league, they cannot assign that contract to their AHL affiliate until October.  So, if Rockford winds up as Huet’s only option, this could prevent the Hawks from signer a key player before the first week of October.

There are limited options currently should Hjalmarsson wind up in San Jose.  Kim Johnsson (UFA) would be a good fit at a greatly reduced rate (more like $2M for a year or two), but his impending retirement won’t allow this.

Losing Hjalmarsson is probably not an option if you’re standing in Stan Bowman’s shoes.  The organization clearly made their long-term commitment to Duncan Keith this past off season.  Brian Campbell’s entering the third year of an 8-year $57M contract and he’s going to be tough to move at any point, but certainly before year five or six of that deal.  With Shawn Lalonde and Nick Leddy in the pipeline, Campbell’s successor is already on board.

This offer sheet may have the biggest implication on Brent Seabrook’s future.  Dylan Olsen, on display at this weekend’s prospect camp, is a good bet to takeover for Seabrook in 2011-12 if Seabrook’s financial demands are too much for the Blackhawks to bear in the end.

ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com

Share