Ramblings: Saturday Signings: Soderberg, Koekkoek, Kovalchuk; Mock Auction Draft (Dec 27)

Ian Gooding

2020-12-27

Take Carl Soderberg's name off the list of remaining free agents. Because of the injuries to Kirby Dach and Alex Nylander, the Blackhawks had a need for a center who could also play some wing. Soderberg should fit in as a middle-six forward who can also play some wing, which makes him a possible waiver-wire add this season if he can find the right linemates. He's very quietly recorded just over a half point per game over the last three seasons (121 points in 229 games), including 35 points (17g-18a) in 70 games in Arizona in 2019-20.

Soderberg's contract is for one year at $1 million, which makes it low risk for the Blackhawks as they attempt to fill a short-term void. If they fall out of the playoff race, Soderberg seems like the perfect player to flip for a draft pick.

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Ilya Kovalchuk has made his return to the KHL official, signing a two-year contract with Avangard Omsk. If this is it for his NHL career, then perhaps he'll receive some Hall of Fame consideration. In 926 career NHL games, Kovalchuk scored 443 goals and 876 points. In his two-season return to the NHL, Kovalchuk scored 26 goals and 60 points in 100 games, which may have been disappointing given his prior status as a superstar. Yet Father Time seemed to catch up, as Kovalchuk is now 37 years old. Best of luck to him in Russia.

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The Oilers added some depth to their blueline on Saturday, signing Slater Koekkoek to a one-year contract worth $850,000. The Koekkoek acquisition could be a sign that the Oilers aren't close on a contract with RFA Ethan Bear. It doesn't hurt for teams to have additional defensemen in the fold, and Koekkoek was effective enough in a third-pairing role with the Blackhawks last season (51.9 CF%).

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In case you need a summary of the World Junior games on Saturday, here's all you need to know.