The Chicago Blackhawks went on a signing spree today. They extended Matthew Highmore and Kevin Lankinen. The team also signed forwards Evan Barratt and Andrei Altybarmakyan to entry-level deals. The team announced the deals over the noon hour on Thursday.
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) April 2, 2020
Chicago Signs Matthew Highmore and Three Others
The 24-year-old Highmore split 2019-20 between the NHL squad and its AHL affiliate in Rockford. Highmore had contributed a total of six goals and 18 points in 57 games. The Blackhawks have found a use for the 5’11” undrafted free agent during their rebuild.
The other two forwards, Barratt and Altybarmakyan, were signed out of Penn State University and Russia’s HK Sochi in the KHL, respectively. Both were third-round selections in the 2017 Draft. Barratt had a good year at the collegiate level with 12 goals and 34 points in 34 games before the NCAA cancelled the remainder of its season. Altybarmakyan was a depth contributor on his KHL squad but still chipped in six goals and 17 points in 49 minutes. Both could be bottom-six contributors in the future.
The final signee, goaltender Lankinen, appeared in 21 games for Rockford this season. The 24-year-old from Finland posted a .909 save percentage and 3.03 goals-against-average. He could be a backup option in 2020-21 behind Malcolm Subban or whoever wins the starting job.
What These Signings Mean for Chicago
We don’t know when hockey operations will resume but teams are not wasting time signing prospects. Chicago has secured several depth options for the next season. The three forwards could be quality bottom-six options and Lankinen is a promising option in the net. Chicago’s next training camp will be competitive as all four signees try to prove they should be on the opening night roster. The Blackhawks have what could be a long rebuild as their core ages and prospects develop. The four players signed today will be factors either on the future roster or as trade chips for future considerations.
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