Brian Campbell will be one of the top defensemen on the UFA market on Friday. He has already indicated to Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune that he is “totally fine” with signing a one year contract which, at 37 years of age, isn’t a big surprise.
Campbell told Kuc in a separate article that there are two key elements to his wish list: He’d like to go to a winning team and to a place where he wants to go. A combination of those two has Chicago at the top of his list. When asked about rejoining his former team, Campbell had the following to say:
“I’m hopeful. A lot of people know it’s my No. 1 place I’d like to play. So I’ll wait and see and hopefully it all works out.”
Finding the right fit financially with the Blackhawks may be a bit of a challenge though. Chicago has just over $5MM in cap space and only 19 players under contract. Campbell told Kuc he’s willing to take a discount to go to the Hawks but how much of one remains to be seen. There’s no doubt he’ll take a reduction from the more than $7.1MM he earned each of the last seven years but is there an amount that works for both sides?
Fortunately for Chicago, Campbell is eligible for a bonus-laden contract. That would potentially allow them to give him a smaller base salary with some reachable incentives that could be charged against the 2017-18 salary cap. While that would create challenges for next season’s salary cap situation, it would allow them to add Campbell now who would give them a legitimate top four blueliner to round out their back end.
Campbell ranks 14th on PHR’s Top 50 UFA list with a projected contract of a $3.5MM base salary and another $1.5MM in incentives. If Chicago wants to work Campbell under their cap this season, he may have to take a lot less of a base salary and more performance incentives.