I had my article all written up.
I was going to talk about how the Blackhawks did well in their first Free Agent Frenzy since getting rid of the albatross around the collective neck of the franchise that was the Brian Campbell contract.
And then, well, this happened.
Despite the fact that they have Dan Carcillo making things ugly for the team next year (literally — his face is one only a mother could love), the front office did do a pretty good job in getting together a decent group of veteran guys for next year.
The Blackhawks went to work early this year, bringing in forwards Jamal Mayers (from the San Jose Sharks) and Andrew Brunette (from the Minnesota Wild), as well as defenseman Sean O’Donnell (from the Philadelphia Flyers). They also signed Brett McLean to a two-way deal, which means I expect to see him in Rockford this year.
The first thing you may notice about most of these guys is their age — Mayers is 36, Brunette is 37, and O’Donnell will be 40(!) this year. I joke about them being old guys, but I’m hoping that they bring a veteran presence to a team that sorely lacked such guidance last year. They’re solid and dependable, and also known as sandpaper guys; they can bring a bit of grit to the team.
The second thing you might notice? They all came cheaply, including Carcillo. Brunette was the most expensive signing at $2 million. O’Donnell signed for $850,000, Carcillo signed for $750,000, and Mayers got $550,000. The Blackhawks still have about $7 million in cap space — enough to re-sign a few RFAs, flip a couple of guys for draft picks, and have some breathing room left over. (Thanks, CapGeek!) This is a new and wonderful feeling!
The third thing you will probably notice? They’re all signed to one-year deals. This is definitely a stopgap year for the Blackhawks; signing these guys to short deals gives some of the kids on the IceHogs another year to develop. Here’s to hoping that the Blackhawks won’t have to rush any of them up to the big club like they had to do with Leddy last year.