The Chicago Blackhawks didn't come into this offseason with many restricted free agents to get locked up, but on Friday morning they took care of two of them as both Ben Smith and Antti Raanta agreed to two-year deals, the team said in a press release.
While the team does not reveal financial details of contracts, ESPN's Pierre LeBrun was on the case quickly after the deals were announced:
Hawks signings: Raanta $750,000 AAV, Smith $1.5 M AAV — Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) June 27, 2014
Smith, who was used on just about every line and in every situation imaginable in the 2013-14 season, scored 14 goals and dished out 12 assists in 75 games during the regular season. He showed some promise on both the penalty kill and as a center, filling in on the second and fourth lines frequently at the position. He also scored four times during the playoffs.
At a $1.5 million cap hit, Smith will continue to be a nice bargain for the Blackhawks in coming seasons, especially if he continues to be as versatile a player as he has been. With Marian Hossa getting older and the Hawks not bringing back Michal Handzus, Smith could be a key contributor on the penalty kill in the upcoming season, and if he can find chemistry with either Jonathan Toews or Marcus Kruger, it would be a big boost to Chicago's chances.
As for Raanta, the goaltender will continue to back up Corey Crawford, whose six-year contract extension will kick in for the 2014-15 campaign. Raanta burst onto the scene in a big way in his rookie season, racking up an impressive 13-5-4 record with a .897 save percentage and a 2.71 GAA for the Blackhawks. He was especially critical in net while Crawford and Nikolai Khabibulin were out with injuries back in December, winning several key games and keeping the Blackhawks afloat.
With Smith and Raanta signing deals, the only restricted free agent left on the Hawks' roster is Jeremy Morin. The team hasn't submitted a qualifying offer for him as of yet, but in all likelihood they will so that they don't have to worry about losing the forward without compensation.
Next season could prove interesting on the RFA front, with Nick Leddy, David Rundblad, Joakim Nordstrom, and Brandon Saad all requiring new contracts.