NHL Free Agents 2010: Prospect Igor Makarov Signs with Chicago Blackhawks

Michael Wagner@MichaelDWagnerSenior Analyst IJuly 15, 2010

With much of the talk surrounding the Chicago Blackhawks being about the Antti Niemi contract negotiations and trade rumors, it was a bit of a shock when it was discovered that the 'Hawks had signed prospect Igor Makarov.

The deal that Makarov signed is a two year deal worth $1.1 million, which is a cap hit of only $552,500. Makarov would be eligible to restricted free agency at the end of the deal.

The reason the deal came as a shock to so many was because of Makarov's "ultimatum" to the 'Hawks organization that he would not play in the minor league if he did not make the NHL roster.

However with this deal it seems like Makarov and his agent were positioning to make the big club even if it mean taking a serious pay cut, a move that looks like it will pay off.

Makarov was the second round pick of the Blackhawks back in the 2006 draft where he was selected 33rd overall.

Since being drafted Makarov has played KHL, formerly the Russian Superleague, and has had difficulty finding minutes to produce consistently.

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Initially looking at his numbers you would think he might be a bust in the making but if you look closer Makarov has not been given top six minutes to allow him to be a scoring threat.

In the 2009-2010 season Makarov spent time with St. Petersburg SKA and Moscow Dymano scoring five goals and four assists in 51 games.

However in those 51 games Makarov only averaged just over 10 minutes in ice time per game which would be comparable to fourth line minutes.

Just to get your head wrapped around how little 10 minutes in ice time is, Tomas Kopecky, Ben Eager, Colin Fraser, and Adam Burish were all in the neighborhood of 10 minutes of ice time with the Blackhawks last season.

Now if Makarov does make the Blackhawks out of training camp you would expect that his role on the team would fall with in the top six forwards and could be the type of player to replace Kris Versteeg on the third line with Dave Bolland.

Whether Makarov is a lock for the NHL roster or not, what we do know is that with his new deal he has increased his likelyhood of locking up one of those rosters spots dramatically.