As reported by Darren Dreger of TSN last week, the Chicago Blackhawks have officially signed David Kampf to a two-year contract. The entry-level deal will expire following the 2018-19 season, after which Kampf will be a restricted free agent. The 22-year old was one of the more dangerous offensive players in his native Czech Republic last season, and will be expected to carry some of that over to North America.
After playing two full seasons without much offensive presence, Kampf broke out with 31 points in 52 games this season and immediately got the attention of NHL GMs. He provides NHL size and will be the next unheralded prospect that the Blackhawks try to turn into a legitimate role player. Kampf is not Artemi Panarin, but he could provide some depth on the wing for a team that relies on entry-level deals each year in order to afford their highly-paid core. With Panarin’s $6MM/year extension kicking in next season, it was crucial to find players like Kampf, John Hayden and Nick Schmaltz to fill in the roster gaps.
While there is no guarantee Kampf will be able to provide anything in the NHL, he may even get a chance to try and show his effectiveness next to Jonathan Toews. If the Blackhawks intend to put the Panarin-Artem Anisimov–Patrick Kane line back together, they’ll still need to try and find full-time fits for Toews next season. Schmaltz, Hayden and Ryan Hartman have all taken turns trying to fill the hole that’s been left since Marian Hossa started his decline, and since the Hawks will struggle to afford Richard Panik’s next contract, both Toews-wings could be empty.