I know, I know a bad reference to a song, but which UFA’s and RFA’s will be back?
This is the biggest offseason in a while for the Chicago Blackhawks and they have money to spend in free agency but first they have to bring a few players back. Let’s starts off with the UFA’s.
Marcus Kruger is known as penalty killer, faceoff master and a great defensive center. Last year, Kruger couldn’t find a role under Jeremy Colliton. He recorded four goals and eight assists in 74 games. Despite being a defensive forward, Kruger recorded his lowest Corsi for percentage (47.6) and a disastrous 35.2 xGF% (expected goals for percentage). If you want to learn more about advanced analytics I have an article on that. Not to mention he struggled at the faceoff dot (48.1%). Kruger had a down year by his standards and he is going to be turning 30 years old. I think that makes the Blackhawks decision easy and they don’t re-sign him.
Chris Kunitz was brought in last year as a bottom six forward and as a mentor. While he was a great mentor to the younger guys (Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome, Henri Jokiharju and etc.) he wasn’t a very effective on the ice. He only recorded five goals and five assists in 56 games. In the season prior, Kunitz produced 13 goals and 16 assists in 82 games and was probably expected to put up similar numbers. With Kunitz turning 40 years old in a months I don’t see the Blackhawks re-signing him.
Cam Ward did his job last season. He was brought in to be a backup and to fill in for Corey Crawford if he got injured. In 29 games last season, Ward had a 16-12-4 record. He also had a .897 save percentage, 3.67 goals against average and a -14.68 goals saved above average. While those stats don’t look great the Blackhawks defense was bad last year. He kept them in games multiple times. He also helped Blackhawks goaltending prospect Collin Delia throughout the year. With, Ward, turning 35 years old this year and Collin Delia taking over the backup spot, I don’t see Ward coming back.
Andreas Martinsen is a forward who has something most ‘Hawks forwards don’t possess. Size and physicality. He is 6’3″ and 230 pounds. Martinsen was sixth on the Blackhawks in hits last year with 83 hits and only played in 24 games. He is a black hole offensively, only recording a goal and three assists this year. I could see Martinsen coming back for cheap because he provides that physicality that the Blackhawks lack.
Victor Ejdsell is a 24 year old center/winger. He was supposed to be a part of the Blackhawks future but elected to return to Sweden after a disappointing 2018-2019 campaign with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. He recorded 12 goals and 17 assists in 61 AHL games last year. By many, he was projected to be in the NHL this year. Ejdsell is expected be qualified in case he ever comes back.
Brendan Perlini is a 23 year old winger. According to Scott Powers of The Athletic the Blackhawks have already sent a qualifying offer to Perlini. Perlini is a former 12th overall pick from 2014. He’s inconsistent but when his scoring is on it is on. He has a great shot, decent offensive skill and good size at 6’3″. He struggles with his consistency, work ethic and speed. After scoring 12 goals for the Blackhawks I see him coming back.
John Quenneville is also a 23 year old winger taken in the first round of the 2014 draft. He is also expected to receive a qualifying offer. And yes (John) Quenneville is a cousin to former Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville. Quenneville, has shown extreme offense skill and has produced in both the AHL and WHL, but has struggled to score at the NHL level. With Bowman, saying he is going to re-sign (John) Quenneville I fully expect him to come to Chicago.
David Kämpf is a 24 year old Czech center. He posted 4 goals and 15 assists in 63 games with Chicago last year. Kämpf had 31 takeaways and six giveaways last year as well. He played a lot on the penalty kill and was a great two-way forward in the bottom six. He has arbitration rights, but I expect him to be back as Jeremy Colliton played him on the second line before.
The Canadian center, just turned 24 years old. He posted eight assists in 33 games. Despite, not being the offensive dynamo Dylan Sikura was expected to be, he has been an excellent two-way forward. In those 33 games, Sikura, posted a 54.55 xGF% and added 23 takeaways to seven giveaways. Sikura has gotten very unlucky and I expect him to be back.
The 24 year old American center put up an assist with the Blackhawks through 15 games last season. Luke Johnson is more of a defensive forward. He had 31 hits last season, but also posted an atrocious 35.71 xGF%. I do expect him to be back as he produced offensively in Rockford.
Anthony Louis is 24 year old American center. He is an Illinois native and is also listed at 5’7″. This past season he scored 12 goals and assisted on 22 more in 74 games. He was not tendered and isn’t expected to get an offer from the Blackhawks.
The 23 year old Canadian winger didn’t receive a qualifying offer from the Chicago Blackhawks. After a disappointing season in Rockford recording one goal and two assists in 10 games it isn’t surprising to see Spencer Watson not get a qualifying offer. I wouldn’t expect him to re-sign
Blake Hillman, a 23 year old American left-handed defenseman, spent his season with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. While Hillman has been known as a defensive defenseman he struggled to put up points. He only scored one goal and had three assists in 54 AHL games. He didn’t get a qualifying offer and isn’t expected to return to Chicago.
cap info from: CapFriendly
Feature Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons and Hendrik Seis