Chicago’s summer of retooling and tweaking the lineup continues today and for one restricted free agent waiting to be signed, it might signal the end of his run in Chicago.
The Blackhawks re-signed restricted free agent Michael Frolik to a reported three-year, $7 million deal and have also signed unrestricted free agent defenseman Sami Lepisto to a one year contract. Frolik will likely slot in on the second line and play at center for Chicago once again. Frolik has scoring touch and gives Chicago some necessary offensive help.
Last season, Frolik’s third in the NHL, he scored 11 goals and added 27 assists between Florida and Chicago. His previous two seasons saw him total up 42 goals and 46 assists. If he can find that kind of scoring touch and perhaps more with the Blackhawks in a full season, it’ll be a huge boost for the team. The $2.3 million cap hit should do well by Chicago’s salary situation.
Chicago also signing up Sami Lepisto, who spent last year with both Phoenix and Columbus, has a bit more of a curious effect on how GM Stan Bowman is handling things with restricted free agent Chris Campoli. Campoli is set to go to arbitration on August 3 with the team and now with Lepisto in the fold, Campoli’s job as a puck moving offensively skilled defenseman is essentially filled. Lepisto is also likely coming in to Chicago at a cheaper price than Campoli would in arbitration and certainly for less than he could be looking for out of Chicago now.
At least Chicago fans will have the lasting memory of seeing Campoli turned inside-out by Alex Burrows in overtime of Game 7 of their first round playoff loss to make them feel furious. Campoli is also coming off of offseason knee surgery as well but he would be ready to go for training camp. As for whose training camp that will be in September remains to be seen.
With the kind of award Campoli would get in arbitration, it’s likely that it would be large enough for the Blackhawks to walk away from and make Campoli an unrestricted free agent, much like what the team did last year with Antti Niemi. While Niemi had a limited market in free agency last year, Campoli is a serviceable guy and could be useful for a number of teams seeking defensive help, he’ll just have to do it at a discount more than likely as the free agent market has virtually dried up.