The Chicago Blackhawks signed forward Jordin Tootoo and defenseman Michal Rozsival to one-year contract extensions, the team announced Tuesday. Terms of the deals are unknown, but both moves will help cover the Blackhawks’ exposure requirements for the upcoming Vegas expansion draft.
Tootoo and Rozsival are a pair of veterans playing bit parts on the Blackhawks this season. Neither played has performed particularly well, but they’re respected, experienced players who provide extra leadership in the locker room.
The real reason for the moves, however, is the expansion draft. As we’ve explained in the past, one of the criteria that each NHL team must meet when exposing players to Vegas is the 40/70 rule.
In summation, the 40/70 rule means that each team needs to expose at least one defensemen and two forwards who are under contract for 2017-18 and played at least 40 NHL games in 2016-17 or 70 NHL games total since the start of 2015-16. Teams must also expose a goalie, although the rules are slightly different for that position.
Before re-signing Tootoo and Rozsival, the Blackhawks didn’t have the 40/70 rule entirely covered. The only players not with no-movement clauses who would’ve covered the rule are Marcus Kruger, Ryan Hartman, and Trevor van Riemsdyk. So if the team wanted to find a way to protect Hartman, it needed to make sure other guys could cover the 40/70 rule.
Now the Blackhawks have total flexibility in this situation. Tootoo is well past 70 games over the past two seasons, while Rozsival is at 67, so you can assume that he’ll play at least three more times before the end of the season. In doing so, the Blackhawks will have enough to cover the 40/70 rule.