The Chicago Blackhawks have tendered a qualifying offer to restricted free agent Mark McNeill, reports The Athletic's Scott Powers. The deadline to make qualifying offers to all restricted free agents is Monday, so the Hawks will lose the rights to all of their other restricted free agents if they don't make them offers.
The qualifying offer is a one-year deal worth at least 105 percent of what McNeill made last season, so at least $874,125. He's not arbitration-eligible, so he has until December 1 to accept the qualifying offer or sign an offer sheet in order to play next season.
McNeill, 23, was drafted by the Hawks with the No. 18 overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft. He's been playing for the Rockford IceHogs in the AHL for the past couple years and his entry-level contract expired this summer. The team needed to make a qualifying offer in order to retain his rights, although it's unclear whether he'll still be with the team by the fall.
Multiple recent reports said the Hawks are "ready to move on" from McNeill, and he likely would still have some kind of trade value if the team wants to move his rights. There will open spots for young players on the Hawks' roster come training camp, but the same was true last season and McNeill was consistently passed over for other players. The qualifying offer does little to change his status as a trade candidate.
Starting on July 1, other teams will be able to tender offer sheets to McNeill, although he likely won't be an especially hot commodity and the Hawks will have the right to match. If another team offers an average annual value of less than $1,205,377, the Hawks would not receive any compensation if they did not match. An AAV between $1,205,377 and $1,826,328 for an offer sheet yields a third-round pick, and it's hard to imagine he could command a salary beyond that range.
Last season, McNeill recorded 25 goals and 23 assists in 64 regular season games with Rockford. He's still in his early 20s, produced in the AHL last season and has never really gotten a shot in the NHL, so you imagine someone will want to take a shot.
Other remaining RFAs for the Hawks this summer are forwards Ryan Haggerty, Garret Ross and Matt Fraser, and defenseman Mathieu Brisebois. The team will lose its rights to all of these players if they're not given qualifying offers. Andrew Shaw, the team's biggest RFA, was traded to Montreal, while Dennis Rasmussen was re-signed to a one-year contract.