GM Stan Bowman had a busy offseason, revamping the Blackhawks’ roster through trades and free-agent signings. But all of those moves were carefully executed knowing full well that the entry-level contracts of Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome expire following the 2019-20 season.
Bowman got out in front of DeBrincat’s on Thursday — one day before the season started — by inking the 40-goal scorer to a three-year extension worth $6.4 million annually. It’s a deal that’s a win-win for both sides, with DeBrincat getting his big raise and the Blackhawks locking him up for a number that doesn’t break the bank.
So with DeBrincat’s extension taken care of, is Strome next?
The tricky part about Strome's negotiation is that his sample size isn't very large (with the Blackhawks, that is). And his production with Chicago is day and night compared to his time with the Coyotes.
In 48 games with Arizona, Strome compiled 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) and bounced around the NHL and AHL. In 58 games with Chicago, he registered 51 points (17 goals, 34 assists). That’s close to a point-per-game average.
Bowman wasn’t giving any hints as to when a deal could get done with Strome but acknowledged that’s next on the agenda.
"I don't anticipate negotiating through the press with Dylan either and I think that was a nice thing with Alex, you guys kind of left us alone with that one, so I would suggest to do the same thing," Bowman joked with the media. "But we have time on that. Certainly that's the next order of business. Whether we do it now or in a month or in six months, I can't say at this point, but certainly that's something we'll take a look at."
Could Strome see it happening in a similar fashion as DeBrincat by getting it out of the way with?
It would probably benefit Strome to play out the season to prove that he can be the player that was drafted but No. 3 overall in 2015. But with DeBrincat taking a relatively team-friendly deal in the short term, perhaps Strome will follow suit.
"I haven't really thought too much about that," Strome said. "I'm just looking forward to the season. It's a long ways away so we'll see what happens."
Like DeBrincat, Strome is more focused on the overall success of his team than his next contract. They haven’t gotten a taste of the Stanley Cup Playoffs yet and history shows you get rewarded with postseason success. That’s where Strome is at mentally.
"I think everyone's different," Strome said when asked if his second contract weighs on his mind. "Just not think about it too much. Obviously we're getting paid to play this game and it's a privilege, so go out there and try to have fun every day and win for our team. When the team does well usually individuals do well so I think you just got to look at it that way. Hopefully this team can make the playoffs and I think everything will work itself out."