During this past summer, the Chicago Blackhawks showed that they aren’t afraid to sign players to extensions early. Immediately after acquiring top-pairing defenseman Seth Jones from the Columbus Blue Jackets, they signed the 27-year-old to an eight-year, $76 million contract extension. This was done before he even played a game with Chicago and so far, it’s been working out for the team. In 35 games, he has three goals and an impressive 25 points.
Now, when looking at this upcoming summer, there’s a good chance that we could see the Blackhawks sign a few more players to extensions. They have some extremely important players with deals that expire after next season, so they would be wise to try to lock up at least one of them early. If not, the 2023 offseason could be a very stressful one for the Blackhawks that brings upon massive changes.
Before beginning, it’s important to note that players with expiring deals after this season will not be discussed. With that, here are the three biggest extension candidates from the Blackhawks.
Once the 2021-22 season is over, Patrick Kane will have just one year left on his contract. The 33-year-old winger has been the number one star of the team for over a decade now, so it is a necessity to include him in this list. Although the Blackhawks are once again having another down year, they should work extremely hard to ensure that the Buffalo native finishes out his career in Chicago.
Since being selected by the Blackhawks with the first overall pick of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, Kane has put together a Hall of Fame-worthy career. Many view him as the best American-born player of all time, including our very own Shaun Filippelli. In 1,060 games with the team, he has 411 goals, 708 assists, and 1,119 points. With this, he’s also third all-time in points with the team. Yet, even with him getting older, he isn’t showing any signs of regression. At this juncture of the season, he has seven goals and 31 points in 31 contests. Once again, he’s putting up elite numbers and is Chicago’s top player.
If the Blackhawks have any chance of becoming a playoff team again, they need to keep Kane around. Furthermore, he is the kind of veteran who is still very good to land himself a multi-year deal. Chicago should do just that with him.
Alex DeBrincat is another notable player on the Blackhawks with an expiring contract after the 2022-23 season. The 24-year-old winger thankfully will still be a restricted free agent, so the Blackhawks will have control over him if they do not extend him before it’s over. However, when seeing as how he’s blossomed into a star sniper at the NHL level, the Blackhawks should act quickly to lock him up long-term. He’s the kind of player they should be building their future around.
Although the Blackhawks have struggled this season, DeBrincat has been thriving. In 35 games thus far, he already has an impressive 21 goals to go along with six helpers. The assists are low, sure, but that doesn’t ultimately matter when looking at how much he’s scoring. The 2016 second-round pick has turned out to be a complete steal for the Blackhawks, and he should be paid handsomely as a result of it. Expect him to make more than his current $6.4 million cap hit. He is worth the raise.
Like Kane, Jonathan Toews is another big-name veteran who will be eligible for an extension this summer. The longtime captain will be in the final year of his current contract next season, and that is honestly a good thing for the Blackhawks. The 33-year-old center’s $10.5 million cap hit will soon be off the books, and they will be able to spend money elsewhere. Yet, that doesn’t mean Chicago should let him go once it expires. It would be wise to keep him around, but simply on a cheaper deal. He’s still a very solid two-way center and needs to retire as a member of the Blackhawks.
If the Blackhawks were to sign Toews to an early extension, it would likely be a short-term one. The veteran center of course missed the 2020-21 season due to Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome, so it may be wise to commit to shorter deals moving forward. Furthermore, he has been off to a slow start this season, as he has four goals and 11 assists in 35 games. Missing an entire season is likely the blame for that, so a bounce-back could be in order from here. However, even if this kind of production becomes the norm from him, he certainly wouldn’t be a bad option to keep around for the middle-six beyond next season.
It will be interesting to see what the Blackhawks decide to do with these players. DeBrincat is the one with the brightest future, but the other two were the main reasons for their three Stanley Cups during the 2010s. If the Blackhawks want to keep this core together, Kane and Toews will get extensions. However, one could argue that their contracts ending could also open the door to a fresh beginning. This is especially the case when noting their struggles over the last few years. Alas, we will have to wait and see what transpires, but this summer does have the potential to be another wild one for the Blackhawks.
Michael DeRosa is a contributor who covers the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks for The Hockey Writers. Since 2017, he’s written and edited for numerous websites. Besides his work for THW, you can also find him on NHLTradeRumors.me, BBallRumors.com, BaseballRumors.me, FootballRumors.me and The Rat Trick.