The Chicago Blackhawks have finished some offseason business early, signing Slater Koekkoek to a one-year extension worth $925K according to Scott Powers of The Athletic. Koekkoek was scheduled to become a restricted free agent on July 1.
Koekkoek, 25, is looking for a fresh start with Chicago after years of being the “extra guy” with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Selected 10th overall in 2012 because of his size and offensive upside, Koekkoek played just 85 games for the Lightning over parts of five different seasons, never playing more than 35 in a single year. The team decided to flip him to the Blackhawks in January this year in exchange for Jan Rutta, who Tampa Bay has since extended as well.
It seems like Koekkoek might get that fresh start under Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton, who used the young defender regularly down the stretch. In 22 games for the Blackhawks he averaged more than 16 minutes a night, including cracking the 20-minute threshold three times. If he receives that opportunity regularly we’ll get to see what he can do at the NHL level, but he will also set himself up for a bigger payday next summer. Koekkoek will be a restricted free agent once again, but will be arbitration eligible.