The signs keep pointing to Brian Campbell's return to the Chicago Blackhawks. Campbell is an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and it "sounds like he's headed back to Chicago," reports the Miami Herald's George Richards. A beat writer for the Panthers, Richards says the team expects Campbell to sign with the Hawks this summer.
UPDATE: Now Richards says the Stars are the more likely team, which would make sense if Campbell wants more money. We'll have to see how this one plays out.
The Campbell rumor has been ongoing for the past few weeks, including a report that said he has "seriously interest" in returning to Chicago. The 37-year-old defenseman has played the past five seasons in Florida after leaving the Hawks, but it seems possible he could take less money in favor of familiarity and the chance at a Cup.
Campbell's family lives in the west suburbs of Chicago during the offseason, so it makes some sense that he would give the Hawks a few extra points in contract talks. The Hawks also won a Cup with Campbell back in 2010, and you have to imagine he wouldn't mind re-creating some of those memories with Jonathan Toews and company as his career winds down.
However, even at his age, Campbell would be an immediate upgrade to the Blackhawks. Last season, Campbell was durable, an excellent possession defenseman and put up 31 points in 82 games. His +5.7 percent Corsi relative is stellar and would be a shot in the arm to a defensive corps that struggled with the possession game at times last season. The possibility of stabilizing the team's top-four and handing the bottom pairing over to some combination of young talent seems like an ideal turnaround after a shaky year on the blue line.
Richards finished his tweet with "who knows," so it's not like this is exactly a rock solid report, but it seems like all indications point towards Campbell's return. Maybe someone swoops in on Friday with an unexpectedly large offer that the Hawks cannot match and Campbell simply cannot refuse, but the veteran defenseman looks like a strong candidate to be the team's big offseason addition.