Sharpie has returned.
After spending nine seasons with the Blackhawks and winning three Stanley Cups in Chicago, Patrick Sharp is coming home.
Sharp, 35, was traded to the Dallas Stars after the 2015 season. A $5.9 million dollar cap hit was hard for the Blackhawks to keep, especially for an older player. Remember, the Hawks also traded Brandon Saad that offseason as well to free up some cap space. With the modern day cap, it is hard and rare to keep your team together, especially after winning the Stanley Cup.
Sharp was a pivotal piece to the Blackhawks becoming a top team in the NHL. The Winnipeg native had eight 20 plus goal seasons in his first run with the Blackhawks. In 679 games in Chicago, Sharp posted 239 goals and 272 assists along with 42 goals in 117 playoffs games.
His return will come with a “hometown discount”. Last season in Dallas, Sharp had a $5.9 million dollar cap hit. To win, you may have to take a pay cut. There were reports that Sharp was interested in returning to Chicago and he got his wish.
Sharp was roughed up last season, suffering a concussion that sidelined him for four weeks, and hip surgery ended his season in March. All of his success this year will be based on how healthy he is. Sharp looks to be someone you lean on to produce on the third line, but if he’s healthy, I could see him playing alonside Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane.
Those top two lines could be really dangerous.
You would think the Blackhawks focus was to get younger and faster after being swept by the Nashville Predators in the first round of the playoffs. The Hawks have brought back past cup winning players like Andrew Ladd, Johnny Oduya, and Kris Versteeg. Limited success has come from bringing back past role players and Sharp is another one of those guys. Sharp scored 20 goals two seasons ago in Dallas but the injuries kept him to just eight goals last season.
This is a low risk move by Stan Bowman. Especially with only $800K in base salary, Sharp comes with the potential of being a solid player again in Chicago.
The Blachkawks have also brought back Brandon Saad in case you forgot. But the defenseman position is still a cause for concern. As reported by Mark Lazurus of the Chicago Sun-Times, the Blackhawks are expected to trade Marcus Kruger to get under the $75 million dollar cap. But if the Blackhawks put Marian Hossa on long-term IR, they will open up some cap room to possibly acquire a D-man at the deadline.
The Blackhawks also signed Tommy Wingles to a one-year deal. A New Trier graduate who has had limited success in the NHL but could be a solid bottom six guy. He will definetly compete with Tomas Juro, John Hayden, and Tanner Kero for the third line/fourth line center.
Free agency has not even been open an hour and the Hawks have made some solid moves. But when will the blue line be upgraded. It is still a weakpoint for the Blackhawks and must be improved.
Lastly, Scott Powers of the Athletic Chicago reported the Blackhawks have signed D Jordan Oesterle.
Oesterle, 25, has spent the last three seasons in the Edmonton Oilers organization. The left handed defenseman had seven goals and 25 assists in 44 games for the Oilers’ AHL affiliate, the Bakersfield Condors, last season.
The Blackhawks continue to make moves, signing goalie Jean-Francois Berube to a two-year deal and forward Lance Bouma to a one-year contract. Berube went 3-2-2 with a .889 save percentage for the New York Islanders last season. I would expect him to be the No. 3 goalie behind Corey Crawford and Anton Forsberg. Bouma, 27, appeared in 61 games for the Calgary Flames last season, posting three goals and four assists.
Remember to look back at Windy City Chronicle throughout the day for other stories on the Blackhawks as free agency has opened.