Aug 18: The team has now officially announced the two-year entry-level contract. It will carry a $950K cap hit.
Aug 17: The Chicago Blackhawks front office certainly isn’t on vacation. After signing Jack Johnson late last night, the team is now expected to sign college free agent Cole Guttman according to Scott Powers of The Athletic.
Guttman, 23, was a draft pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning but failed to sign his entry-level contract by this week’s deadline, making him an unrestricted free agent. Because of his age, he’ll be limited to a two-year deal.
Serving as captain of the University of Denver, he led the Pioneers to a national championship earlier this year and was tied for second in team scoring with Edmonton Oilers prospect Carter Savoie (behind Bobby Brink of the Philadelphia Flyers). His 19 goals and 45 points were easily career highest, though the 2017 sixth-round pick has put up strong totals throughout his four years in college.
Relatively undersized, Guttman is the kind of no-risk lottery ticket that the Blackhawks can afford to take a chance on as they rebuild. If he’s unable to deliver NHL minutes there’s nothing wrong with him adding some skill to the Rockford IceHogs.
If he can get to the highest level, however, it becomes another young forward for general manager Kyle Davidson to build around, or even potentially a trade chip to sell over the next few years. As we’ve seen so far this offseason, 23-year-old players are not safe from the rebuild machine in Chicago, as they set their sights further down the road.
For Guttman specifically, there’s probably no better place in the league to try and land regular NHL minutes. Signing with Chicago will give him an open path to playing time if he can show he deserves it, allowing his professional career to start on the right foot.