Checking in on a couple of small NHL free agency signings around the league on Saturday…
Blackhawks sign Carl Soderberg
The puck has not even dropped on the regular season and the Chicago Blackhawks are already dealing with some potentially significant injury issues. Alex Nylander is going to miss most — if not all — of the season due to surgery, while Kirby Dach, their most promising young player, was injured at the World Junior Championships and is likely to miss some time during the season.
For a team that is already thin, those could be significant injuries.
To help deal with those depth issues the team announced on Saturday it has signed veteran forward Carl Soderberg to a one-year, $1 million contract in free agency.
The 35-year-old forward appeared in 70 games for the Arizona Coyotes this past season, scoring 17 goals to go with 18 assists. He has scored at least 15 goals and 35 points in each of the past three seasons. Those are not stunning numbers by any means, but keep in mind the Blackhawks are only bringing back four players from last year’s roster that topped 15 goals and 35 points. For $1 million this late in the offseason it is a solid signing. Soderberg is a good player and score a little bit, but at his age and on this contract it is obviously a short-term addition that will not alter the direction of their rebuild. It is also probably not going to significantly alter their short-term outlook, either.
Oilers sign Slater Koekkoek
This has been a pretty solid offseason for the Oilers with the low-cost, low-risk additions of Tyson Barrie, Kyle Turris, and Dominik Kahun. All three can be solid contributors, and none of them are going to ruin their tight salary cap outlook even if they do not produce as hoped.
They added another similar low-risk player on Saturday with the signing of free agent defenseman Slater Koekkoek on a one-year, $850,000 deal.
He appeared in 42 games for the Blackhawks a year ago with a goal and nine assists, while posting very strong possession numbers.
The Oilers defense is going to be hurting this season with Oscar Klefbom out for the season, but the additions of Barrie and Koekkoek are solid deals at relatively little cost against the cap. The Oilers still have to re-sign restricted free agent Ethan Bear, another key contributor to their defense from a year ago.