The Chicago Blackhawks and defenseman David Rundblad have agreed to a two-year contract extension, reports Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet. The deal includes an annual cap hit of $1 million and will keep Rundblad in Chicago through the 2016-17 season.
Rundblad, 24, was one of several Blackhawks hitting restricted free agency this summer along with Brandon Saad, Marcus Kruger and others. He's the first of that group to re-sign with Chicago, adding a dose of certainty to the team's blue line situation entering next season.
The Hawks need to find defensemen to fill out the roster behind Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson next season, and Rundblad will likely fill one of those spots now. It's not particularly surprising even after a shaky 2014-15 season given Rundblad's experience in the system and potential as an offensive-minded blue liner.
Chicago couldn't depend on Rundblad last season, benching him after a brief stint during the playoffs, but for a team without a ton of options, he's still intriguing. A former first-round pick who doesn't turn 25 until October, maybe the stability will allow Rundblad to reach some of his potential after bouncing between Ottawa, Arizona and Chicago during his first few professional seasons.
During the 2014-15 season, Rundblad recorded three goals and 14 points over 49 games. He averaged less than 13 minutes of ice time per game, a number that will presumably rise with guys like Johnny Oduya, Michal Rozsival and Kimmo Timonen on their way out. It's also possible Rundblad is simply depth as players like Stephen Johns and Michael Paliotta challenge for playing time. Either way, Rundblad is in the mix next season.