Nice little Thursday for the Blackhawks.
Just hours after beating out several NHL clubs in securing the rights to Colgate standout Kyle Baun, the ‘Hawks announced they signed Michael Paliotta — their third-round pick at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft — to a two-year deal.
Paliotta, 21, just wrapped a four-year career at Vermont in style, posting a career-high 36 points while being named to the Hockey East second-team. He’s got good size — 6-foot-4, 205 pounds — and ‘Hawks GM Stan Bowman is high on his ability, recently saying he’d like Paliotta to turn pro right now.
And so, Paliotta has.
This, along with the Baun deal, signifies a potential changing of the guard in Chicago. In recent years, the organization wasn’t the ideal landing spot for prospects; given Chicago’s wealth of talent at the NHL level, the likes of Brandon Pirri, Jimmy Hayes, Adam Clendening (drafted the same year as Paliotta) and Jeremy Morin failed to crack the roster and were dealt elsewhere while one prospect — ’10 first-rounder Kevin Hayes, Jimmy’s younger brother — balked on the ‘Hawks entirely, opting to hit free agency rather than sign an entry-level deal in Chicago, eventually inking with the Rangers.
Times appear to have have changed, though.
The ‘Hawks are facing a summer of upheaval, which could be why Baun and Paliotta — who, like Hayes, could’ve gone unrestricted this summer — decided to come on board. TSN’s Bob McKenzie said Patrick Sharp will be “gone, for sure” this summer and it’s expected the ‘Hawks will also have to part ways with veteran d-man Johnny Oduya, in part because of the $10M cap hit extensions for Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, which kick in next year.
With other experienced players potentially leaving (Antoine Vermette and Brad Richards are also pending UFAs), Chicago might now be seen as an organization filled with opportunity, rather than roadblocks.