Blackhawks

How Dylan Larkin's new contract impacts Nick Schmaltz, Blackhawks

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AP

How Dylan Larkin's new contract impacts Nick Schmaltz, Blackhawks

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman has consistently stated that the plan is to re-sign Alex DeBrincat and Nick Schmaltz when their entry-level contracts expire. It's why the Blackhawks have had a quiet offseason via free agency, because any contract brought in longer than two years might interfere with that.

It's too early to project what DeBrincat's second contract could look like, but we got an indication on Friday of what Schmaltz's number and term may come in at after Dylan Larkin inked a five-year extension with the Detroit Red Wings worth $6.1 million annually. It's easy to see the similarities between the two players.

For one, Larkin and Schmaltz share the same agent in Kurt Overhardt, so Schmaltz's asking price is likely to be in the same range as Larkin's starting point. They're also both centers and were first-round selections in 2014, drafted five picks apart (Larkin at 15, Schmaltz at 20).

On the ice, their production has been almost identical.

In his first three seasons, Larkin averaged .057 points per game and registered a career-high 63 points in his third year. Schmaltz is averaging exactly .057 points per game through his first two seasons and is on track to crack the 60-point mark in his third. There's a disparity when it comes to their faceoff numbers, with Larkin possessing a career 48.4 win percentage and Schmaltz at 37.7, but from his rookie to sophomore campaign Schmaltz went from 30.9 to 40.1, a substantial improvement.

Their roles are similar as well, with each slotted in as the No. 2 center of their respective teams with the potential to work their way to No. 1 over the course of time. In fact, Schmaltz's ice time went from 13:16 to 18:14 from Year 1 to Year 2 while Larkin went from 16:33 to 16:09 before jumping to 19:51 in Year 3.

The Blackhawks clearly felt Schmaltz was ready for a much larger role in his second year, and he was. It should be interesting to see how he's utilized in Year 3 and whether his ice time could get closer to the 20-minute range like Larkin's, which would certainly impact Schmaltz's offensive production in a positive way, especially if it means more power play time.

Assuming Schmaltz continues to progress the way we expect him to, it wouldn't be surprising to see his contract look similar to Larkin's. Schmaltz will become a restricted free agent next season and as of July 1, is free to begin extension talks with the Blackhawks.

Both camps — the Blackhawks and Schmaltz — are likely not interested in a bridge deal, and it wouldn't make sense for either side anyway. A five-year deal would give Schmaltz long-term security at a solid number along with a chance to earn another big payday by the end of it when he'll be 28 years old while the Blackhawks secure their top-six center for his prime years.

Here's where things may get a little tricky.

According to Craig Custance of The Athletic, Larkin has a full no-trade clause in Year 5 of his new deal. The Blackhawks currently have nine players on their roster with either a no-movement clause or some form of no-trade clause. They're one of the teams known to hand those out frequently; it's part of why free agents like coming to Chicago because they offer player control and protection. But obviously, that doesn't give the Blackhawks much flexibility when it comes to player movement.

At the same time, it might be challenging to avoid not giving Schmaltz some kind of clause in his new contract because he's one of the guys you want to take care of and make sure you have for a long period of time. So it may not be the number and term the Blackhawks and Schmaltz's camp spend the most time on during negotiations.

Blackhawks hoping to get players back on road trip

Blackhawks hoping to get players back on road trip

The Blackhawks were still without Duncan Keith (groin injury) and Andrew Shaw (concussion protocol) at practice on Wednesday before hopping on a flight to Boston for Thursday's game and then to New Jersey for Friday. 

With Keith out, defenseman Dennis Gilbert was recalled from the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL and participated in practice. 

Dylan Strome (concussion protocol) and Drake Caggiula (concussion protocol) will travel with the team and will be evaluated prior to Thursday's game per Hawks head coach Jeremy Colliton. Olli Maatta missed practice with "flu-like symptoms" but should be good against the Bruins. Robin Lehner, who missed Monday's game with the flu, practiced Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Tough matchup

The Blackhawks, 1-5-1 in their past seven games and last place in the Central division, will have their work cut out for them against the Bruins, who sit in first of the Atlantic division and haven't lost a regulation game at home.

"We know we have to be better at the end of the day," Hawks rookie Kirby Dach said. "It kind of starts from the top and comes all the way down, we have to find a way to compete every night, pull the rope in the same way. With the leadership group we have, they've been through so much, I'm confident in them and our coaching staff to help us, especially me, get through this."

New Jersey, last in the Metropolitan division, could be a different story. The struggling Devils underwent a coaching change, firing head coach John Hynes and naming Alain Nasreddine interim head coach a couple hours before their 4-3 loss to the Golden Knights on Tuesday.

Close one

Patrick Kane went in early during practice after incidental content with Zack Smith's arm during a drill, but Colliton said he'll be fine and good to go Thursday. 

Moms! 

The Blackhawks players will be accompanied by their mothers on the road for the annual mom's trip.

"I think it’ll give everyone a boost," Colliton said. "It’s always nice to have family around and obviously whether it’s moms or important people in your life, it’ll be good for the group to have them around."

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A decade since the Blackhawks signed Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane to extensions

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USA Today

A decade since the Blackhawks signed Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane to extensions

On Dec. 3, 2009, the Blackhawks wrote some of the grandest chapters of their rich history, along with some checks to fund them. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith all signed contract extensions with the Hawks on this day before going on the lift the Stanley Cup three times in a Hawks sweater.

Toews was 21 and the youngest captain in the NHL at the time he inked his five-year extension with a $6.3 million average annual value. The two-time Olympic gold medalist and Selke and Conn Smythe trophy winner played his 900th game with the Blackhawks on Monday and has 769 points (331 goals, 438 assists) with Chicago.

Kane, whose extension mirrored Toews', was also 21 at the time of the deal and went on to capture Calder, Art Ross, Conn Smythe and Hart trophies in addition to being the No. 1 overall pick of the 2007 NHL Draft and grabbing Olympic silver. Kane has 971 points (370 goals, 601 assists) in 930 games with the Hawks.

Toews and Kane signed another extension on July 9, 2014, with equal terms sporting an average annual value of $10.5 million through eight years. It was the highest AAV in the league when the contracts kicked in during the 2015-16 season. They are locked up through 2022-23 with a no movement clause.

Keith was 26 when he signed his 13-year extension with an AAV of $5.54 million. The defenseman, currently out with a groin injury, went on to win a Conn Smythe and two Norris trophies in addition to two Olympic gold medals. He's under contract with a no movement clause through 2022-23. Keith has a career +/- rating of +157 and 589 points (99 goals, 490 assists) in 1102 games with the Hawks.

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