Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman just made his first bold move toward constructing next season's roster. It was done with a signing that will raise eyebrows all over Chicagoland.
The 'Hawks announced Monday morning that the team has re-signed forward Daniel Carcillo for the next two seasons. This move is one of Bowman's boldest since taking over the GM reins. That's because Carbomb is still the same powder keg he was when he was a surprise pickup late last July 1.
We know what we're getting with Carcillo, which is to say that we acknowledge that anything can happen in terns of his play. The toughness, the agitation, the penalties and the suspensions are all encased in the number 13 Indian head sweater for the next two seasons.
There probably aren't a lot of fence sitters out there. You either love this move or hate it. The deal pays Carcillo $825,000 per season over the course of the contract, a slight raise over his current salary of $775,000.
A lot of fans couldn't get off the Carcillo train fast enough after his boarding of Edmonton's Tom Gilbert was a big factor in an embarrassing loss to the Oilers and a seven-game suspension. Bowman's stunning announcement suggests that the 'Hawks boss is willing to live with these outbursts if Carcillo can bring the attributes that earned him some top-six minutes this season.
Chicago was 16-12-4 with Carcillo in the lineup. The Blackhawks are 13-14-4 since he was injured. Is that a big enough of a difference to merit re-enlisting one of the league's most notorious bad-boys?
With a pair of goals and nine assists in 28 games, Carcillo did have a plus-10 skater rating to go with the confidence of players like Patrick Kane.
Carcillo also seemed to click in the Blackhawks locker room. Coach Joel Quenneville seemed to be a fan as well. Aside from Jamal Mayers, Carcillo was Bowman's only summer signing that performed to its billing.
So why aren't the 'Hawks announcing a two-year extension of Mayers, who has been a physical force on the fourth line, wins draws and comes without the uglier trappings of Carcillo?
Simple. Mayers is 37. Carcillo is 27.
Carcillo has similar point totals to Mayers (11 to 14) in less than half the games. He's younger and more versatile than Mayers. The baggage is there, but it's there for everyone to see. It' s not far-fetched that Mayers has earned himself another one-year contract with Chicago, but few players his age are signing multi-year deals.
The timing of the announcement seems strange in that the season is far from over. Carcillo's replacement, Andrew Shaw, has performed well since arriving on the scene in January. It would seem like Bowman would have had plenty of time to contemplate Carcillo's Blackhawks future after the season.
Perhaps a rehabbing Carcillo, who underwent knee surgery soon after injuring himself Jan. 2, held less bargaining power than he would have if Chicago's rights were running out in late June. Right now there are questions regarding how the knee will hold up in the future, but the price was right.
I'm sure there will be much debate as to the benefits or drawbacks to this signing. That's a given. What I have to give Bowman credit for, however, is having the conviction to make a commitment to a controversial player.