Hagel's New Deal, Dog Days of Summer, New AHL Playoff Format, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Hagel’s New Deal, Dog Days of Summer, New AHL Playoff Format, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

After the fast start to the official offseason in the NHL for the Chicago Blackhawks, acquiring Marc-André Fleury, Seth Jones, Tyler Johnson, and signing Jake McCabe, there was a lull over the last few days as the club seemed all but “done” for the summer. That was, of course, except for their restricted free agents Alexander Nylander and Brandon Hagel. Not big-time deals that needed to be made, but important ones for the youth and depth of the NHL roster.

•   On Friday morning, we were told that “bagels” were on the way…

•   The Blackhawks and Brandon Hagel reached a new deal with a three-year contract extension that will run through the 2023-24 season. It comes with a $1.5M AAV cap hit and Hagel will be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights when the deal expires in the summer of 2024.

•   Hagel was a breakout rookie last season for the Blackhawks, finishing fifth on the team in scoring and second on the team in points for rookies. The deal is a great one for both sides, Hagel gets stability in Chicago and the money is not going to break the bank for the Blackhawks. He’s going to be part of the team’s middle-six forwards group next season and could be a complimentary building block player for the “new core” of the organization.

•   To celebrate his new deal, Hagel provided bagels for the fans!

•   Another player that will be part of Chicago’s middle-six forwards group along with Hagel is Dylan Strome. His offseason training program apparently involves working with his dog, Wrigley, with stick-handling and shooting drills.

•   Adorable.

•   Along with Marc-André Fleury, newest Blackhawks goaltender Arvid Söderblom debuted his new team pads for the upcoming season. Söderblom is the only goalie on an NHL contract with the organization that is signed beyond next season.

•   Slick look that will work with both the Blackhawks and Rockford IceHogs, as Söderblom will likely play most to all of his time next season in Rockford.

•   Speaking of playing most of his time in Rockford next season, a happy 21st birthday to defenseman Alec Regula!

•   Regula made his NHL debut last season but again, will likely play all of next year with the IceHogs in the AHL. Chicago will have a lot of young talent playing with the IceHogs next season compared to last season, without having to deal with the NHL Taxi Squad. Players like Regula, Ian Mitchell, and Nicolas Beaudin will play heavy minutes in the AHL next season and that’s perfect for what they need right now in their development, if you ask me.

•   Chicago’s depth in the defensive group improved, on paper, this offseason with the trade of Nikita Zadorov and additions of the Jones brothers and Jake McCabe. You can see the behind the scenes of the addition of the Jones brothers here with the latest edition of “On the Clock” presented by the team…

•   Those defensive additions and “improvements” should help the Blackhawks be better in front of their goaltenders this season, which will be Kevin Lankinen and Marc-André Fleury, most likely. Dom Luszczyszyn of The Athletic took a look at which teams have already made improvements (or got have gotten worse) so far this offseason.

•   The results for the Blackhawks are looking up, according to his model.

•   Something that can be overlooked with the addition of Marc-André Fleury is the inner-workings of how it came together and what the fallout of the deal is on the Vegas Golden Knights’ side of things. They “acquired” Mikael Hakkarainen, but he won’t play for their organization. Scott Powers of The Athletic tells the story of Hakkarainen being involved in the biggest trade of the Blackhawks summer and what it means for the minor-leaguer moving forward.

•   Hakkarainen will be on the books for the Golden Knights, but will be loaned back to the Blackhawks organization and play with the Rockford IceHogs, likely.

•   Speaking of the Rockford IceHogs, the AHL announced yesterday the new qualification rules and playoff format for the Calder Cup Playoffs, starting next season.

•   For the IceHogs, the fourth-place and fifth-place teams in the Central Division will play a best-of-three series with the winner moving on to the Division Semifinals, which will thin the field down to 16 teams, a more normal playoff number. The Divisional rounds will be best-of-five series’, with the Conference Finals and Calder Cup Final being best-of-seven.

•   And finally, Chris Peters of Hockey Sense took a stab at projecting Team USA’s World Junior Championships roster after the World Junior Summer Showcase wrapped up last week. His projections involve four Blackhawks prospects with Wyatt Kaiser, Connor Kelley, Landon Slaggert, and Drew Commesso all being named to Peters’ projected roster. You can check out the full roster and more here…

•   That will do it for today. I hope you all have a good TGIF Friday!


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Author: Mario Tirabassi

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.