Blackhawks sign Czech free agent defenseman Jan Rutta

Rutta joins a crowded defense in Chicago at the moment.

The Chicago Blackhawks signed defenseman Jan Rutta to a one-year contract Monday. The team announced the move after it was reported in the morning by TSN’s Pierre LeBrun.

"Jan has been on our radar for a number of years and he has shown great progress on the ice during that time," GM Stan Bowman said in a statement. "His addition to the organization makes our defense more dynamic and he has shown he can contribute offensively as well."

A few weeks ago, TSN’s Darren Dreger reported that multiple teams had made offers for Rutta, specifically highlighting the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames.

Rutta stands 6’3, weighs 198 pounds, and is coming off of a career-high 32 points in 46 games this season. He also played in the World Championships for the Czech Republic this summer, scoring one goal in his eight games as part of his team’s seventh-place appearance in the tournament. One of his teammates for that tournament and for the World Cup of Hockey last summer was Blackhawks defenseman Michal Kempny.

Should Rutta make his way into the Blackhawks defensive rotation, he could provide a pair of skillsets that the Hawks have been lacking in the last few seasons. First, he’s an offensive defenseman, the specific type of player the Hawks haven’t had since Nick Leddy was traded away following the 2014 seasons. Second, he is a right-handed shot, which should help counter the lefty-heavy D corps on the Hawks right now.

As tight against the cap as the Hawks have been for this decade, they must get significant contributions from players with lower salaries. If Rutta can make the jump from Europe to the NHL, it’d go a long way towards the Hawks making a move out of the first round for the first time since the 2015 postseason.