The Chicago Blackhawks are in negotiations with Ville Pokka on a new contract, according to Scott Powers of The Athletic. The young defenseman has still yet to make his NHL debut, but with the Blackhawks facing cap problems once again and Trevor van Riemsdyk likely headed for the Vegas Golden Knights, it might be time for Pokka to make an impact this season.
The 23-year old was selected 34th overall in the 2012 draft by the New York Islanders and is a restricted free agent this summer. It’s not often you see high draft picks make it all the way through their entry-level contract without a sniff of the NHL, but because of it Pokka should be relatively inexpensive on his next deal. That said, he’s a candidate for Group VI free agency should the Blackhawks not get him into 80 games by the summer after his 25th birthday, meaning he’s probably unwilling to sign anything longer than two years without any guarantees at playing time. After three up-and-down seasons in the AHL that showed both his potential and deficiencies, it will be tough to put him right into the NHL to start next year.
- The Edmonton Oilers have announced their partnership with the Wichita Thunder of the ECHL as a new minor-league affiliate. The Bakersfield Condors, Edmonton’s AHL affiliate will work closely with the Thunder to develop their prospects. Though Bakersfield and Wichita are still quite a distance from each other, the Oilers had been affiliated with the Norfolk Admirals last season on the east coast. That team is now working with the Nashville Predators while the Thunder will indeed be much closer geographically.
- Klim Kostin is clear that he wants to play in North America next season, and he will likely get a mutual termination with his KHL club in order to do so. In a recent translated article with Sovsport, Kostin—a top prospect for the 2017 entry draft, expected to go sometime in the first round—says that even though he has two years remaining on his current deal, their is a good chance the team will “understand me and let me go.” Kostin has previously said he doesn’t want to play in the WHL where the Kootenay Ice hold his junior rights. He instead could go directly to the NHL or AHL if he were to sign an entry-level contract right away.