Blackhawks sign Max Domi, Andreas Athanasiou, 4 others as NHL free agency opens
Domi and Athanasiou signed one-year, $3 million contracts Wednesday. Fellow forward Colin Blackwell inked a two-year deal at $1.2 million per year, and backup goalie Alex Stalock signed for one year at $750,000.
The Blackhawks were quietly busy during the opening hours of NHL free agency Wednesday, adding three forwards in Max Domi, Andreas Athanasiou and Colin Blackwell.
Domi and Athanasiou, both wingers, signed one-year contracts with $3 million salary-cap hits. Blackwell, a center, signed for two years at $1.2 million per year.
The three promptly became the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-highest-paid forwards on the Hawks’ books, but they likely won’t be in Chicago for long. It wouldn’t be surprising to see general manager Kyle Davidson try to flip them to contenders for assets at the trade deadline as the Hawks’ long-term rebuild continues.
Domi, 27, had 39 points in 72 games last season for the Blue Jackets and Hurricanes. The son of former NHL enforcer Tie Domi, he never quite has lived up to his draft position (12th overall in 2013) or his 2018-19 breakout season with the Canadiens (72 points), but he remains a solid middle-six winger.
His competitiveness is his most well-known trait, although he does have some playmaking skill. It’ll be interesting to see him on the same team as defenseman Connor Murphy, whom he attacked in a bizarre in-game incident in 2021 in Columbus.
Athanasiou, also 27, had 40 points in a combined 75 games for the Kings in the last two seasons, missing a large chunk of 2021-22 with an injury. He, too, enjoyed his best career season in 2018-19, when he hit the 30-goal milestone with the Red Wings.
His speed is his most well-known trait, checking off the other box — in addition to competitiveness — that Davidson frequently has mentioned as priorities in player evaluation. He’s arguably one of the fastest players in the NHL.
Blackwell, 29, had 20 points in 58 games last season for the Kraken and Maple Leafs, switching teams as part of the trade involving Mark Giordano. A late bloomer who didn’t break into the NHL until 2019, he’s decent on faceoffs — his career faceoff rate is exactly 50% — and experienced with penalty-killing.
On the goaltending side, the Hawks signed Alex Stalock to a one-year contract with a $750,000 cap hit. It’s unclear whether Stalock will enter next season as the backup to Petr Mrazek or whether another goalie addition will come later. Either way, the Hawks will be able to keep promising goalie prospect Arvid Soderblom sheltered with Rockford of the American Hockey League for another year.
Stalock, 34, struggled mightily last season. He posted an .869 save percentage in 17 AHL appearances and a .786 save percentage in one NHL game for the Sharks after missing the previous season with myocarditis. He previously had been a solid backup, going 36-29-11 with a .908 save percentage for the Wild in 2017-20.
The Hawks also signed minor-league forwards Luke Philp and Brett Seney to one-year, two-way contracts worth $750,000 each at the NHL level. Philp and Seney each scored more than 40 points in the AHL last season and will help support Hawks prospects in Rockford.
Elsewhere around the league, wing Dominik Kubalik signed a two-year contract with the Red Wings worth $2.5 million per year — significantly less than the $4 million qualifying offer the Hawks would have had to give him to retain his rights.
Goalie Collin Delia and defenseman Wyatt Kalynuk signed with the Canucks, and defenseman Erik Gustafsson and forward Henrik Borgstrom landed on the Capitals. Forward Dylan Strome, defenseman Calvin de Haan and goalie Kevin Lankinen haven’t yet found new teams.
The moves leave the Hawks with an estimated $10.6 million in salary-cap space, with restricted free agents Philipp Kurashev and Caleb Jones left to re-sign.
The Hawks have considered taking on another team’s bad contract to receive a ‘‘sweetener’’ asset. That remains a possibility, even though the Flyers — previously seen as the best match — declared themselves finished for the summer.