Blackhawks sign Mark McNeill to one-year contract

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The Chicago Blackhawks have had to go through yet another salary cap crunch this summer that has forced several key players out the door, including Teuvo Teravainen, Andrew Shaw and Andrew Ladd.

Those departures are going to create openings that could be filled by younger players coming through the farm system.

One of those young players could be 2011 first-round draft pick Mark McNeill.

The Blackhawks announced on Friday afternoon that McNeill has signed a one-year contract with the team. Terms of the contract were not released, but General Fanager has it as a two-way deal that will pay McNeill $600,000 in the NHL and $200,000 in the AHL.

McNeill, the 18th overall pick in 2011 by the Blackhawks, spent almost all of the 2015-16 season playing for the Rockford IceHogs in the AHL where he scored a team-leading 25 goals. His 48 points were good enough for second on the team while his performance earned him a spot on the AHL’s All-Star team.

To this point he has spent pretty much his entire pro career in the AHL and has at the very least demonstrated he can be a top-line scorer at that level.

He earned a brief call-up to the NHL club last season, appearing in one game for the Blackhawks in January. He played 12 minutes in what would be a 5-0 loss.

With the Blackhawks suddenly looking for forward depth following some big losses this summer, he might get an even bigger look this season.