The Chicago Blackhawks have completely overhauled their roster over the last several weeks, and just yesterday completed a trade to send Artem Anisimov to the Ottawa Senators. That freed up $1.3MM in cap space for each of the next two seasons, giving GM Stan Bowman a little more room to operate. Today, Bowman spoke with reporters including Charlie Roumeliotis of NBC Sports Chicago about several topics from development camp including unsigned restricted free agent forward Brendan Perlini:
We had some roster things we had to take care of to be in a position to sign him. Negotiations are probably going to pick up as we go forward here. …I don’t have a timetable on when we’re going to get him signed.
Notably, Perlini’s name was included in a report on the weekend that indicated he was being shopped around the league in trade talks. Anisimov was also in that report, but that came as little surprise given his declining role with the team and hefty cap hit. Perlini meanwhile is just 23 years old still and five years removed from being the 12th player picked in the 2014 draft. The Blackhawks acquired him along with Dylan Strome during last season and though he didn’t make quite the same impact, Perlini still did score 12 goals in 46 games for Chicago—an 82-game pace of 21.
Nine of those goals (and two of his three Blackhawks assists) came in the last 17 games of the season for Perlini, indicating that perhaps he had found some level of comfort on the roster after failing to fit in right away. Now the team has to decide what that is worth moving forward, especially given they still don’t have a ton of cap room available. After changing basically half of the roster in a month, the team is sitting with just over $3.3MM in cap space with only 20 players signed. That doesn’t leave much space for Perlini, who obviously turned down his $874K qualifying offer and is looking for more than that.
The 6’3″ forward is obviously not someone you want to discard and give up on, but with the recent additions of young players like Kirby Dach, Dominik Kubalik and Alexander Nylander, the Blackhawks do have some other ways to fill out the rest of the roster for a very low cost. All three of those young forwards are on entry-level deals, but none are tested at the NHL level just yet. Perlini, like many of the other restricted free agents who are not eligible for arbitration, is in a tough negotiating situation where cap room on the other side is limited. We’ll have to keep watch and see if they can come to an agreement, or if Bowman will have make yet another move.