CHICAGO – The biggest move the team may make during the unusual fall 2020 free agency period might have been the player the chose not to sign.
That was the decision not to offer Corey Crawford a contract, meaning that the Blackhawks will be looking for a new starter in goal for the first time in a decade.
Since the team is now on the cups of a rebuilding stage with younger players, there isn’t much expectation that the Blackhawks will be in on a number of top free agents over the next few weeks. Smaller moves would most likely make up Stan Bowman’s actions starting on Friday, and indeed that’s how things started on Day 1.
Dominik Kubalik is back on the fold after an outstanding rookie season, one in which he led all first year players in goals with 30 while also giving out 16 assists. The Calder Trophy finalist gets a two-year deal worth $3.7 million as he looks to play a major part in what could be a new-look Blackhawks team whenever the 2020-2021 season begins.
With so much uncertainty going on, it was a deal that Kubalik was happy to get done quickly.
“Just the last three or four days were a little bit; when you’re thinking about it, you’re getting a little bit nervous and stuff like that,” said Kubalik. “I’m very happy it’s over and we know what to expect.”
Malcolm Subban is thinking the same after he got a two-year deal worth $850,000, and a major opportunity awaits him. With Crawford gone, the goalie has the shot to win the job going into his sixth season in the NHL.
Acquired in a trade with the Golden Knights which sent Robin Lehner to Vegas, Subban appeared in just one game before the pandemic and didn’t see action in the postseason series in Edmonton.
“Had a brief stint here and for what it was worth, it was an unbelievable time getting to know everyone,” said Subban of arriving in Chicago. “World class organization, like I said when I got here. Just getting familiar with everyone here and getting familiar with the city.
“It’s been unbelievable so far and I’m so happy that I could sign back.”