Monday, July 1, 2024

Blackhawks EXPLODE In Free Agency!: Teuvo Teravainen Reunion Highlights Tidal Wave Of Stars Headed To Chicago

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Ahead of free agency, which officially began on July 1, there were rumblings that the Blackhawks would be an active player in making deals with some of the bigger names on the open market. After letting a total of 17 players walk from last year’s system, Chicago needed to add more than a few bodies to field an NHL roster.

Well, they did more than that right from the very start. GM Kyle Davidson has made it clear that he plans to have this team take a step forward this year, and he proved he meant it with a complete tidal wave of signings right from the jump on Monday morning. But these signings weren’t just to fill in the bottom half of the roster – several true stars from around the league are now headed to Chicago. It’s safe to say things will look a bit different for the Blackhawks this fall.

We’ll obviously discuss some of these big-name players more in-depth eventually, but below is every signing the Blackhawks have reportedly made so far this morning.

Teuvo Teravainen

Starting at the very top, this one will be the most popular move of the day in Chicago. Teravainen is coming home! Originally selected 18th overall by the Blackhawks in 2012, the 29-year-old forward signed a three-year deal to return to Chicago with an AAV of $5.4 million. After winning a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in his rookie season in 2015, he was traded to the Hurricanes in 2016, where he quickly developed into a true star, producing nearly a point per game. He scored 25 goals last season, but is a pass-first winger who excels at both ends of the ice.

Teravainen has spent plenty of time over the past several years as a star complement next to Sebastian Aho. With that being said, it shouldn’t be surprising if the Blackhawks’ top line looks a bit different this season – Teravainen, Connor Bedard and Taylor Hall could do some serious damage.

Tyler Bertuzzi

Though Teravainen’s name will ring a few more bells for Chicago fans, the Blackhawks were able to come away with one of the biggest stars on the board in Tyler Bertuzzi. He signed a four-year deal for $5.5 million annually, making him the Blackhawks’ new second-highest paid player (Seth Jones). Bertuzzi logged 21 goals and 22 assists in 80 games in Toronto last season. While he creates plenty of scoring opportunities, the 29-year-old left winger is a hard worker and even harder hitter. He spends most of his time in front of the net or enforcing on the other end of the ice and projects as a potential second-line winger. I wouldn’t be shocked if he was labeled the protector of Frank Nazar if he also serves on the second line, although he has plenty of scoring ability on his own.

Laurent Brossoit

Meet my favorite move of the day for the Blackhawks. Brossoit was the best goalie on the free agency board today at the position Chicago needed most. The 31-year-old veteran played in 23 games for the Jets last season (he shared the net with Connor Hellebuyck), but allowed only a 2.00 GAA while posting an incredible save percentage of .927. He has the potential to be Chicago’s new starter in net, or at least to remain the league’s best backup. His deal is worth $3.3 million for each of the next two years.

With this move, Arvid Soderblom is headed elsewhere. That destination may not be Rockford, though, as future Blackhawk Drew Commesso is now joined by Ben Gaudreau, who signed an AHL contract this morning and is part of Chicago’s ongoing development camp. I wouldn’t be surprised if they buy out his contract or throw him onto the end of a trade.

Alec Martinez

This is an interesting one. The Blackhawks signed 36-year-old LHD Alec Martinez to a one-year deal worth $4 million. His name is best known in Chicago as the player who scored the Game 7 overtime game-winner against the Blackhawks in the 2014 Western Conference Final. Martinez is a result of Chicago looking for more veteran leadership. Appearing in 55 games for the Golden Knights last year, he posted 17 points and was credited with 165 blocked shots. He’s a great player even in the twilight of his career, though I question whether his presence will hamper the playing time of players like Wyatt Kaiser or Ethan Del Mastro, both of whom expect to spend significant time at the NHL level this year.

Pat Maroon

Another move to add experience to a young roster. At 36 years old, Maroon agreed to a one-year contract with the Blackhawks at $1.3 million. He’s a decent bottom-line winger who played in 51 games last year with the Wild and Bruins, skating around 13 minutes per game. Again, I question whether this move will yield much on-ice benefit given the packed forward room of players fighting to make the NHL roster. Still, a strong veteran presence never hurt and he comes at a cheap cost given his experience.

Craig Smith

The Blackhawks grabbed a third aging veteran, Craig Smith, on a one-year deal worth $1 million. The 34-year-old signed an identical deal last summer with the Stars, then proceeded to play in 75 games while tallying 20 points. Nicknamed the “linebacker on ice” last season, his physical play earns him a bottom-line spot on an NHL roster, a fate that seems likely in Chicago.

Joey Anderson

In their most recent move, the Blackhawks brought back Anderson for two more years at $800,000 per year. After earning an NHL roster spot last season after starting the year in Rockford, Anderson took a big step forward and even led Chicago in plus-minus at +5 (though much of that success may have been due to sharing a line with star two-way center Jason Dickinson). The other contract details haven’t been released, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a two-way deal for Anderson so that the Blackhawks can keep him in the AHL for now, especially given the influx of NHL talent.

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