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Update: Cody Franson has re-signed for one year at $2 million.
The Leafs say that if Morgan Rielly earns a spot on his own merits that he will make the team but I don't see how he can after this signing.
Viktor Stalberg is out 3-4 weeks with a shoulder injury. Shoulder injuries can linger for well beyond the amount of time it keeps a player out of the lineup. Stalberg's upside is limited as is and this injury may reduce his fantasy value from limited to non-existent.
I have been wondering about Chicago's decision to let Stalberg go this summer and instead re-signing Bryan Bickell. Stalberg signed in Nashville for $1 million less annually than Bickell despite being the same age (27 years old) and possessing similar upside (about 45 points a year give or take 10).
Of course, Bickell had the huge playoffs for Chicago and probably needed to be rewarded. He brings a physical dynamic that Stalberg (no slouch himself) cannot match. Perhaps Chicago simply values that "playoff warrior" aspect that some players seemingly have and with two Cups in four years it would seem that the playoffs are what Chicago is all about.
Or Chicago just overreacted and paid a premium for Bickell's work in an incredibly small sample size. Consider that for 48 games last season the Blackhawks trusted Stalberg for about a minute more per game of ice time than Bickell only to flip that during the playoffs trusting Bickell for almost five minutes more per game than Stalberg over 23 games. When were they wrong?
Those who like advanced stats will note that by virtually any measure Bickell and Stalberg were very similar players last season but that over the past few years Stalberg has been consistently a more effective player.
I am not prepared to say that one of these guys is better than the other one. I have seen both of them be very dominant in games and at other times be completely invisible. I don’t know if the Blackhawks made the wrong decision, nor do I know if they even had a say in the matter. Perhaps Stalberg simply wanted to leave.
I do think that these are questions worth asking. Will signing Bickell for that extra million cost the Blackhawks the chance to add someone (or an improvement on the someone they do add) at the deadline this year? Will it make it more difficult to re-sign someone like Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews or Brandon Saad in the future with less cap space to work with?
Those are the hard decisions