The Chicago Blackhawks announced a trio of signings late Friday. The re-signing of Drew LeBlanc along with the pickups of defensemen Theo Peckham and Michael Kostka will have at least some effect on the bottom of the Blackhawks roster this fall.
Financial information has not come out as of yet. LeBlanc signed a two-year deal, while Peckham and Kostka inked through 2013-14. The money shouldn't be a huge factor as these are surely two-way contracts that will see all three players in the AHL for a good part of these deals.
LeBlanc, last season's Hobey Baker Award winner and the player of the year in the college ranks, was signed to a contract this spring and got into two games for the 'Hawks. The center may be in the mix for a spot on the roster. It's also more than possible that he spends some time in Rockford.
Peckham and Kostka, on the other hand, may signal some movement on the defensive side of the puck.
Chicago figures to have seven defensemen on the roster: Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Johnny Oduya, Nick Leddy, Michal Rozsival and Sheldon Brookbank.
Defensemen that seem destined for the IceHogs are Ryan Stanton, Adam Clendening, Shawn Lalonde (who hasn't re-signed but was qualified an offer by the 'Hawks), Dylan Olsen and Klas Dahlbeck. Viktor Svedberg is on an AHL deal and figures to need minutes.
Kostka, 27, has been a steady 30- to 40-point scorer from the blue line in the AHL. He spent a good portion of last season with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The 25-year-old Peckham battled injury last year in Edmonton, appearing in just four games. He's a big guy (6'2", 246 lbs) who doesn't mind dropping the gloves.
These two have been bottom-pairing defensemen on teams with far less talent and depth than Chicago. General manager Stan Bowman's plan may be to bolster the depth in Rockford.
However, it could be that Bowman added Peckham and Kostka in anticipation of dealing a defenseman from the current roster. That might just mean a trade involving Brookbank, whose brother Wade re-upped with the IceHogs this week.
With Stanton a younger and cheaper alternative to play the role of seventh defenseman, Bowman may wish to knock a few bucks off payroll. Having more organizational depth may allow him to move Brookbank and his 2013-14 cap hit of $1.25 million.
Peckham and Kostka have skills that will play in Rockford. In addition, each player could be a short-term fill-in for the Blackhawks. Bowman added some depth on the back end and possibly gave himself some options as the summer goes on.