A move that was speculated earlier in the day has come to fruition, with the Chicago Blackhawks signing former Buffalo Sabres defenseman Jake McCabe to a four-year contract. The deal is worth $4 million annually.
And, apparently, this won’t be the first time McCabe dons a Blackhawks sweater:
McCabe, 27, is a native of Eau Claire, Wisc. and joined the Sabres’ organization as a second-round pick (44th overall) in the 2012 NHL Draft. He made his NHL debut during the 2013-14 season but made the full NHL leap in ‘15-16, playing 77 games that season. He’s now up to 353 games for his career with 18 goals and 59 assists and an ice time average of 19:15.
He played just 13 games in 2021 with one goal and a pair of assists before being lost for the season to a knee injury suffered in a Feb. 20 game against the Devils. With an expected recovery time of 6-8 months, McCabe’s status for the start of the ‘21-22 season could be in question, although he certainly didn’t seem worried about lingering effects form that injury while meeting with the media:
Jake McCabe says he has "zero concerns" about his knee injury. Expects to immediately return to his previous level, if not higher.— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) July 28, 2021
The offensive numbers aren’t much for McCabe but that’s not a big deal, given his prototype as a defensively minded blue-liner. From an analytics perspective, there’s a lot to like from McCabe, albeit in a limited sample because of that injury:
Jake McCabe, signed 4x$4M by CHI, is an excellent top four defensive defenceman who put up absurd results this season before getting injuries. I don't think he's as elite as those 13 games make him look, but definitely did very well in a tough situation. #Blackhawks pic.twitter.com/E5HvMqmrkc— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) July 28, 2021
Decent deal for McCabe who is a really strong defensive defenceman. Four years look about right too pic.twitter.com/1pxKVtFIyz— dom at the athletic (@domluszczyszyn) July 28, 2021
Even with Nikita Zadorov being traded earlier on Wednesday, it’s still an awfully crowded room among Blackhawks defenseman. Seth Jones is another recent addition to the room, but plenty of other veterans are around including Connor Murphy, Caleb Jones and Riley Stillman. Chicago is reportedly shopping Calvin de Haan around to potential buyers, but there are still several young players vying for roster spots in Wyatt Kalynuk, Ian Mitchell, Nicolas Beaudin and more.
Seeing which seven or eight players break camp with the parent club come October will be an interesting battle to watch.