The Blackhawks concluded an odd week of contract news for David Kampf by doing what they were expected to do all along: re-signing the 24-year-old defensive center.
Kampf signed a two-year contract, worth $1 million annually, less than an hour after becoming an unrestricted free agent at 11 a.m. CT Monday.
He was originally supposed to be a restricted free agent, but the Hawks did not tender him a qualifying offer last week to retain his RFA status, even though general manager Stan Bowman maintained he was in negotiations with Kampf’s agent throughout the process.
The Kampf news closely followed the signing of another bottom-six center with defensive tendencies — Ryan Carpenter, formerly of Vegas —to a very similar contract.
Kampf signed as a European free agent two summers ago and has been a decent fourth-line center for the Hawks since.
He improved upon his 11-point, 46-game rookie season with a 19-point, 63-game performance in 2018-19, despite a mere 36 percent offensive zone start rate.
His greatest value, however, is in his own end, as those deployment numbers suggest —when he’s on the ice, the Hawks are (uncharacteristically) impenetrable in the middle of the zone.
Among team forwards, Kampf allowed the third-fewest shot attempts and second-fewest scoring chances against in 5-on-5 play, and also averaged the most shorthanded ice time per game (1:51).
Kampf and Carpenter will compete for the Hawks’ fourth-line center role, with the loser still likely to earn a spot on the wing come opening day.