11:00am: The deal is official now, but comes in quite a bit smaller than expected. Kubalik has signed a two-year contract with an average annual value of $3.7MM.
10:00am: While Chicago is set to lose veteran goalie Corey Crawford in free agency, they’re closing in on a contract with one of their pending restricted free agents. Mark Lazerus of The Athletic reports (subscription link) that the Blackhawks are nearing a three-year deal with winger Dominik Kubalik with a cap hit within the $3.75MM to $3.9MM range.
The 25-year-old had quite the rookie season after being acquired from Los Angeles, scoring 30 goals along with 16 assists in 68 games, good enough to earn him third place in Calder Trophy voting. He was even better in the playoffs, picking up four goals and four assists in nine games.
With this being his rookie season, there weren’t many direct comparable players in Kubalik’s situation which certainly would have made these contract talks a little more challenging. Assuming the deal is done as reported, Chicago will buy an extra year of team control while getting him signed at a second-line rate. There’s always a risk in making a commitment to someone with as minimal of a track record as he has but if Kubalik can even come close to matching his rookie-season output, he should be able to provide a strong return on that contract.