The Chicago Blackhawks brought back Ben Smith and Antti Raanta on new two-year contracts earlier in the day, and before the NHL Entry Draft on Friday night the team also agreed to a new two-year deal with Jeremy Morin, the club announced in a press release.
The deal, which will carry a cap hit of $800,000 annually according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, will represent a $65,000 increase in salary for the 23-year old forward originally acquired from the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for Dustin Byfuglien and Brent Sopel. In 24 games with the Blackhawks last season, Morin scored five goals and had six assists, forming up a combination with Peter Regin and Bryan Bickell that helped soften the blow of losing Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews for the final weeks of the season.
Despite that success however, Morin has had a tough time getting on the ice for the Blackhawks. Head coach Joel Quenneville has been hesitant to make Morin a full-time player because of his defensive deficiencies, and even though he made some good progress in that area, there are still questions about whether or not he will be a part of the main rotation.
The other question surrounding the Hawks is whether or not the team will be faced with salary cap issues. According to various reports, the NHL is contemplating having a salary cap of only $68 million next season, and if that’s the case, the Hawks will already be over the cap by nearly $1.5 million. That could mean a player like Michal Rozsvial could be shed for salary cap purposes, and could also mean that Johnny Oduya may be facing a trade.
Those questions should be answered later on Friday at the draft, as the Hawks could conceivably trade either player for draft selections.