As soon as free agency opened Sunday, the Chicago Blackhawks announced a trio of moves, signing forward Chris Kunitz and goaltender Cam Ward to one-year contracts while also adding defenseman Brandon Manning to a two-year contract.
Ward, 34, will earn $3 million and have a no-trade clause with his contract, reports Bob McKenzie of TSN. Kunitz, who turns 39 in September, will earn $1 million, while Manning will receive $2.25 million annual, reports Scott Powers of The Athletic.
Ward, who has played all 13 seasons of his NHL career with the Carolina Hurricanes, has a career save percentage of .909 and a goals-against average of 2.70. In 43 games (42 starts) last season, he posted a 23-14-4 record with a .906 SA percentage and 2.73 G.AA.
The Blackhawks were reported to have interest in Kunitz early Sunday morning and then followed through by signing the left winger to a one-year deal. Kunitz is a four-time Cup winner who has played in 966 NHL games in 15 seasons. Last season, he appeared in all 82 games for the Tampa Bay Lightning, scoring 13 goals with 16 assists. But his playoff numbers were not as impressive, with only one assist in 17 games.
While the Kunitz and Ward signings had some prior hits, Manning’s did not. Manning, 28, played in 207 games with the Philadelphia Flyers in six seasons before becoming a free agent this summer. Last season, he averaged 17:57 of ice time in the 65 games with seven goals and 12 assists. He also had an even Corsi rating according to Hockey Reference, despite starting in the defensive zone 54.4 percent of the time.
Following those three signings, the Blackhawks now have about $3 million in salary cap space to use for the rest of the offseason, although that number could change if they’re able to make any trades, such as ones involving Marian Hossa’s or center Artem Anisimov.