Thursday, June 8, 2017

Blackhawks Sign Czech Defenseman
More Moves to Come

by Gatekeeper

The Blackhawks announced early yesterday morning that they had signed 6'3" 200 lb Czech defenseman Jan Rutta, which had be speculated by John Jaeckel as far back as May 19th. Financial terms to the deal have not yet been announced.

It appears as though this signing finally signals the exit of noted lightning rod Trevor van Riemsdyk from the Blackhawks. I want to, again, clarify what I have said all along about van Riemsdyk. He's a fine 5-6 defenseman and could even fill in elsewhere, in a pinch. My contention has always been that Joel Quenneville miscast him and set him up to fail, thus making him look a lot worse to the naked eye. In no scenario should Trevor van Riemsdyk have been in the Blackhawks top 4.

I digress, though; van Riemsdyk looks to be headed to the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft, which should be a great opportunity for him. If reports are true, the Golden Knights will acquire Marcus Kruger in a trade with the understanding that the Blackhawks will expose van Riemsdyk for the Golden Knights to select in the expansion draft. These moves will save the Blackhawks just under $4 million in cap room, which will still leave them roughly $500K over last year's threshold, not including Rutta's contract.

As far as Rutta goes, the contract is an entry level contract but, since he's 26 the deal can only be for one year and cannot exceed $925,000. Even though the terms have not been announced, but I would expect them to be in the area of Michal Kempny's incentive laden $700,000 last season.

Rutta is actually a bigger, slightly older and hopefully better version of van Riemsdyk and retains something that the Blackhawks have coveted for quite a while, which is that he is a right handed shooter. They currently only have Brent Seabrook, the corpse of Michal Rozsival, and van Riemsdyk as righties with any kind of NHL experience. Pending UFA Ville Pokka, Robin Press, and Jake Ryczek are the only right handed defenseman in the entire system, so if the Blackhawks are going to sign some more, I'd bet on some more right handers.

In other news, There have been no official announcements on the team site, yet, but several outlets have reported that the Blackhawks have also hired former NHL defenseman and AHL Charlotte Checkers coach Ulf Samuelsson to fill Mike Kitchen's vacant spot on the coaching staff. Brian Hedger also tweeted that the Blackhawks are in the process of hiring Wisconsin associate coach Don Granato for an organizational position, as well.

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