The Blackhawks signed free agent defenseman Wyatt Kalynuk (KAL-nihk) and center/left wing Pius Suter (PEE-uhs SOO-tuhr) to two- and one-year contracts, respectively, Thursday. Both contracts carry a $925,000 salary cap hit and start for the 2020-21 season.
Chicago also officially finalized a three-year, entry-level contract for their top defenseman prospect Ian Mitchell. The contract will start next season and have a $925,000 cap hit.
Kalynuk finds a home
Kalynuk, who was selected in the seventh round in 2017 by the Flyers, became a free agent after Philadelphia did not sign him after he decided to forgo his senior season at Wisconsin.
“I’m all for doing what players think is right for them,” Wisconsin coach Tony Granato told the Wisconsin State Journal in May. “At this point, Wyatt thinks right now it’s better for him to turn pro, and I support that.
“As much as we’d like to have him back here, part of college hockey and part of recruiting great players is the fact that you understand that, unfortunately, sometimes they are ready before their four years expire.”
Kalynuk, an offensively-minded defenseman with a left-handed shot, had seven goals and 21 assists in 36 games while being the Badgers team captain this past season. The 6-foot-1, 189-pounder had 25 points in each of his first two seasons at Wisconsin. He was teammates with Blackhawks prospect and fellow defenseman Josh Ess, a 2017 seventh rounder by Chicago, the past two seasons.
Corey Pronman of The Athletic ranked the 23-year-old Kalynuk the second-best potential college free agent in February, calling him a “fantastic skater with a high skill level with a game that should translate (to the NHL).”
#NCAAHockey Plays of the Week— NCAA Ice Hockey (@NCAAIceHockey) December 3, 2019
3️⃣ | “Oh Captain, My Captain!!” @BadgerMHockey’s Wyatt Kalynuk took a pass near his own blue line, then skated up ice and through the Michigan defense to score in the second period. pic.twitter.com/piuFwcWWd2
Suter, 24, led Switzerland’s National League with 53 points while scoring 30 goals in 50 games for the Zurich SC Lions. Those numbers aren’t far off from Dominik Kubalik’s 2018-19 season totals of 25 goals and 32 assists in 50 games, a performance that helped him register on the Blackhawks radar. Reports of Suter drawing interest from the NHL surfaced in March, and he announced Monday that he was invoking an exit clause in his contract with the intention of playing in the NHL next season.
Pius Suter’s agent Georges Müller: “At the end it was tight between 2 organisations. We believe he fits best into the Blackhawks, they have proven many times that they are successful in integrating European undrafted players. And that Marc Crawford knows him helped.”— Scott Powers (@ByScottPowers) July 16, 2020
Crawford was ZSC Lions’ head coach from 2012-16, meaning Suter played one season for him in 2015-16.
It's now confirmed that Pius Suter will leave the @NLSLOfficial for the @NHL.— NL Ice Data (@NLIceData) July 13, 2020
He had a dominant season in 19/20:
- best xGF% (from @MySports_CH)
- best CF% (from @InStatHockey)
- best P1/60, G/60, iCF/60 at ES
Find more stats at https://t.co/nob9qalwJF https://t.co/ENpKUbVhSS pic.twitter.com/ceJiOxYHkI
Although never drafted by an NHL team, Suter does have some experience playing in North America, having spent his junior career with the OHL’s Guelph Storm (2013-15). Suter was invited to the Senators’ rookie camp in 2017 but returned to his native Switzerland soon after and has remained there.
Along with the potential for another talented addition to the roster, adding Suter may help the Blackhawks fill out a roster while navigating a very difficult salary cap situation over the next few seasons.