Blackhawks

He’s back: Blackhawks sign Brian Campbell

He’s back: Blackhawks sign Brian Campbell

For Brian Campbell, it was pretty simple.

He wanted to come back to Chicago. He makes his offseason home here, wants to continue to raise his young family here and is incredibly familiar with the team here. All it was going to take was a decent, not decadent, salary.

Campbell got that, and now he’s back to try and win another Stanley Cup.

Campbell signed a one-year deal worth a reported $2 million with the Blackhawks not long after the NHL free agency window opened on Friday. For Campbell, the chance to come back to Chicago was too tempting and worth turning down other, more lucrative offers.

“It’s where my heart is, where I want to play,” said Campbell via conference call. “The last time when I was a free agent, money played a factor. This time it was about what was best for me and my family. I have two young daughters; one is going into preschool. I’ve been welcomed into the neighborhood I live in. It’s just where I wanted to be, where my heart was. It just makes our life perfect. We’re ecstatic about being here.”

It’s a good, affordable deal, just like the one the Blackhawks signed Brad Richards to entering the 2014-15 season. Unlike with Richards, there shouldn’t be much adjustment time for Campbell. While the Blackhawks’ roster has changed plenty since Campbell was traded, the core is still fairly intact.

General manager Stan Bowman said at the draft last weekend that he wouldn’t rule out getting a veteran defenseman. Now he has Campbell back in the fold and it didn’t take long to convince him to return.

“The fact it came together so quickly, seemed it was a place Brian wanted to be,” Bowman said. “No question that Brian had a tremendous season this past year and several good years, leading up to this year. I’m sure he had other opportunities. Speaks to what person Brian is. He’s a winner. He believes in our organization and our chances last year. Nice to know he wants to be part of what we’re doing in Chicago. Familiarity with the coach and some players here. We’re excited he chose Chicago.”

Campbell’s return helps a defense that missed Johnny Oduya last season. Whether or not he plays as big a role as he did in Florida, or even in his first stint with Chicago, remains to be seen but Campbell believes he can still be a top-minute guy. His durability has been proven; the 37-year-old Campbell has played in every regular-season game with the Florida Panthers since he joined them in the 2011-12 season.

“I have a lot left in the tank,” Campbell said. “There are no egos here for me. It’s doing what’s best to win. I know how old I am but I definitely don’t feel that old. I led the Panthers in minutes last season but I’m definitely fine with less minutes as well. Whatever they want I’m more than happy to contribute.”

With the Campbell deal done the Blackhawks have around $3.2 million in cap space, per generalfanager.com. The Blackhawks may not do a whole lot else regarding free agency. Bowman said the Blackhawks could get a “role-type player,” but getting Campbell was their top priority.

The Blackhawks needed to bolster their defense. Campbell wanted to come “home.” It worked out. Now to see if Campbell is once again the defenseman the Blackhawks need.

“I call Chicago home. My wife grew up here and we’re excited to raise our two daughters here,” Campbell said. “I couldn’t be happier to play for my hometown team now.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Blackhawks' One Goal be to tank?

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Blackhawks' One Goal be to tank?

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, Danny Parkins (670 The Score), Seth Gruen (Big Ten Unfiltered) and Jason Goch (SB Nation Radio) join Kap on the panel. 

The Blackhawks drop their 8th straight. So should their “One Goal” be to tank?

Plus, Jon Lester isn’t a fan of the new pace of play proposals. Is he right?

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here:

With playoff chances all but over, what can Blackhawks do at trade deadline?

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With playoff chances all but over, what can Blackhawks do at trade deadline?

After losing their eighth straight game and falling 12 points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference, the Blackhawks' playoff chances have dipped to a season-low 0.2 percent. It would take a miracle for them to extend their postseason streak to 10 at this point, where getting just one win seems like a monumental task.

The Blackhawks were probably never really going to be buyers before the Feb. 26 trade deadline even if they were still in the hunt, but it's hard to imagine they had plans to be sellers. Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has reiterated over and over again that he's confident in this group, one that's getting younger and faster.

But now they've reached a territory where they have to consider selling off spare parts simply to coup some draft picks or prospects that they could perhaps retain or use as sweeteners in the offseason.

So which players could the Blackhawks realistically sell?

Let's start with the two players getting rewarded with top-six ice time as of late: Lance Bouma and Tommy Wingels.

These are two players that play with high energy and go to the greasy areas, something that's important in the playoffs when scoring goals becomes more difficult. They can clean up rebounds. Wingels, particularly, likely has more value and it's showing given his recent success on the power play as a net-front presence guy. He also isn't a stranger to the playoffs with 54 games under his belt compared to Bouma's five.

Both of them are pending unrestricted free agents and are making $1 million or fewer, which certainly works in the Blackhawks' favor considering they won't cost much and their cap hits are easy to fit in on any interested team.

Maybe a team would like to take a flyer on Tomas Jurco, who's a restricted free agent at the end of the season, but that would be a move somebody makes as more of a longer term project than strengthening your depth for a playoff run this spring.

On the back end, Michal Kempny and Jan Rutta could be in play for a contender looking to ensure some depth as a sixth or seventh defenseman. Again, each of them are making less than $1 million so it's a low-risk situation for clubs whose Plan A or B fall through and may be interested in at least getting something.

While they don't have much NHL experience, they're both 27 years old and have played the sport long enough to know what they can bring to the table.

Once Feb. 26 passes and potential roster spots open up, expect the Blackhawks to start calling up the kids. 

Matthew Highmore deserves a look after leading the Rockford IceHogs with 20 goals and 32 points. John Hayden has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 15 games since joining Rockford, and belongs in the NHL. Even Anthony Louis, who's taken a step forward, should get a taste of the action as he continues his development.

Carl Dahlstrom is getting his shot now. Erik Gustafsson is in that process as well. Gustav Forsling had another extended look during the first half of the season before the team decided it would be wise to continue his development in Rockford, where he can play top-pairing minutes.

All of this would give the Blackhawks a better indicator of how they can approach the upcoming offseason, and which young guys they can possibly add into the mix for 2018-19. But first, we have to see how the end of February plays out before making those calls.