As expected, wing Alex Nylander will return to the Blackhawks for the upcoming season. The Hawks re-signed Nylander to a one-year contract worth $874,125 on Monday.
Nylander received a qualifying offer July 26 that kept him a restricted free agent without arbitration rights, essentially guaranteeing the Hawks eventually would re-sign him this summer but removing any urgency in doing so.
Nylander, 23, missed all of last season while recovering from surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. But general manager Stan Bowman said this summer that Nylander already had recovered and will be 100% for training camp.
The Hawks hope Nylander will be able to put everything together this season after failing to translate his raw talent into impressive results thus far in his NHL career. Nylander, a former No. 8 overall pick by the Sabres, had 26 points in 65 games for the Hawks in 2019-20 but struggled with defense and consistency.
‘‘There is still plenty of room for growth in his game,’’ Bowman said in a statement. ‘‘He is just scratching the surface of the type of player we feel he is capable of becoming.
‘‘This will be an important season for him to perform consistently and contribute offensively. His size and skill are a unique combination that make him an intriguing option for our coaching staff to utilize anywhere in the lineup.’’
Nylander will compete with a crowded forward group for a roster spot during training camp. Roughly 17 forwards under contract have a legitimate chance to earn the 13 or 14 opening-day jobs up for grabs.
Nylander’s signing also marks the end of the Hawks’ obvious offseason to-do list, with everyone now signed. They still must move retired Andrew Shaw’s contract to long-term injured reserve to become compliant with the salary cap, but that will be a formality.
One potential move to watch for is a trade involving backup goalie Malcolm Subban. Bowman likely will want to recoup a minor prospect or draft pick for Subban, who fell to No. 3 on the Hawks’ depth chart after the arrival of Marc-Andre Fleury, rather than lose him on waivers during camp.