Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman got to check off the last item remaining on his offseason to-do list Friday afternoon. The team has announced that they have come to terms with restricted free agent forward Brendan Perlini on a one-year contract worth $874,125.
Perlini Still Has Untapped Potential
Perlini was originally drafted 12th overall by the Arizona Coyotes in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. He was acquired by the Blackhawks, along with Dylan Strome, in the deal that sent Nick Schmaltz to the Coyotes last November.
He scored 12 of his 14 goals on the season with the Blackhawks and added seven assists. He struggled to find a regular spot in the lineup when he first arrived, but he eventually found the consistency in his game to keep him on the ice.
“He’s taken a step, much more involved, giving us energy, winning races and winning battles,” head coach Jeremy Colliton said of Perlini last March. “When he does that, his line has the puck more and he’s got skill. He’s got a bomb, a big body that can take the puck to the net. I thought maybe the game in Dallas was maybe his best game since he’s been here. Hopefully, he can continue to improve.”
His highlights with the Blackhawks included scoring the opening goal at the 2019 Bridgestone Winter Classic versus the Boston Bruins. He was also named the NHL’s Second Star of the Week for the week ending March 17. He scored five goals that week, including his first career hat trick against his former team on March 11.
At just 23-years-old, Perlini still has quite a bit of potential. He definitely has the speed to excel in today’s game. He has shown flashes of being worthy of such a high draft pick, but he has yet to put it all together for an extended period of time.
In 199 career NHL games between the Coyotes and Blackhawks, Perlini has 45 goals and 72 points. If he can live up to his full potential, Bowman may have gotten himself quite the exceptional bargain at just $874,125.
Plenty of Work Ahead for Perlini
After signing Perlini, the Blackhawks still have just over $2.4 million in salary-cap space heading into the season. They should get some great value with Perlini, Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome making a combined $2.5 million this season. That number will go up before the 2020-21 season as both DeBrincat and Strome are entering the last years of their rookie contracts.
Perlini has shown that he can score in the NHL, despite being a very streaking scorer. He has very good speed, which helps him both through the neutral zone and in the defensive end of the ice. While his shot is good, he lacks in the passing department as his low assist totals show.
Even with the contract signed, Perlini will have to fight for a roster spot this fall. The Blackhawks will have Andrew Shaw, Zack Smith, Ryan Carpenter, Alexander Nylander, Dominik Kubalik, Anton Wedin, John Quenneville, Dylan Sikura and Kirby Dach all looking for spots on the team’s bottom six. You don’t have to be a math expert to see that there will be a couple of guys left off the opening night roster come Oct. 5.
The Blackhawks will begin training camp on Sept. 13 and will play six exhibition games; two each against the Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings and Washington Capitals. They will play a final exhibition game against the Eisbären Berlin, in Germany, on Sept. 29, before opening the regular season against the Philadelphia Flyers in Prague, Czech Republic on Oct. 5.