Blackhawks sign Kubalik, Subban as free agency opens
It was a quiet day for the Blackhawks -- and across the NHL -- on the opening day of free agency Friday.
The Hawks signed just two players, both of whom were on the roster last season.
Forward Dominik Kubalik inked a two-year, $7.4 million deal and goaltender Malcolm Subban agreed to a one-year, $850,000 contract.
The Kubalik signing is an important one for the Hawks as it brings back a phenomenally gifted winger. Kubalik can score from anywhere -- and that includes the tough, dirty areas in front of the net. Not every high-end scorer can say that.
The only bummer from a Hawks standpoint is that the contract isn't for five years. I could be wrong here, but I believe Kubalik's 30-goal campaign wasn't a flash in the pan. He's going to keep this kind of production up, possibly outdoing Alex DeBrincat over the next two seasons.
If that happens, he'll likely command far more than his $3.7 million average salary in the summer of 2022. He'll still be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights, however, so that thought has to be comforting to Stan Bowman and Co.
"To be honest, the first thoughts of my agent were to try and maybe ask for a longer deal," Kubalik said. "I'm still saying that I'm still young, but I'm not actually. In today's hockey when you're 25 it's not young anymore."
Despite the short term, Kubalik made it clear that he's absolutely thrilled. And he's pretty sure the Hawks are too.
"Obviously we want to stay in Chicago and to stay there for longer," Kubalik said. "For me both sides should be happy, so that was my first goal. I'm happy and hopefully Chicago's happy too."
Kubalik will no longer be a mystery to opposing coaches, meaning it could be more difficult to find open ice. He's not worried about that, however, and plans to keep racking up the goals.
"That's the first goal right now -- to show that it wasn't just one season," Kubalik said. "Just to keep going, keep getting better, keep playing hard. So that's basically what's in my head right now."
As for Subban -- barring a trade or unlikely free-agent signing -- he will compete with Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen for the starting gig.
Subban, who will be 27 in December, has 66 NHL games under his belt. He has a 30-23-7 record with an .899 save percentage and 2.97 goals-against average.
"I've been preparing for (this) for a long time now," said Subban, who came to the Hawks in the Robin Lehner trade with Vegas in February. "You put the work in to get the opportunity.
"Obviously it's three great goaltenders with Deals and Lanks. It's good competition. We got to know each other a bit in the bubble there. They're great guys.
"Our one goal is whatever opportunity we get is to help the team win. That's the most important thing."
Subban played just one minute and 10 seconds for the Hawks, when Corey Crawford had to momentarily leave the ice against Anaheim on March 3. He had an .890 save percentage and allowed 3.11 goals per game with Vegas in 20 appearances.
Crawford always said he performed better the more he played. So might that happen with Subban?
"My goal right now is ... to string together as many starts as I can get," he said. "In the past I definitely got in a groove when I strung together some games. But that's gotta be earned and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to earn those starts."
Bowman did not address reporters Friday, a rarity on the opening day of free agency.
The Hawks still have a qualifying offer out to Dylan Strome, who is a restricted free agent with no arbitration rights. Strome had 12 goals and 26 assists in 58 games last season.