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The Chicago Blackhawks agreed to contracts with free agents Chris Kunitz [url=http://www.coltscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-margus-hunt-jersey]Margus Hunt Jersey[/url] , Cam Ward and Brandon Manning on Sunday, addressing their depth in every position group after missing the playoffs for the first time in a decade.
Kunitz got a one-year deal worth $1 million, and Ward’s one-year contract is for $3 million. Manning received a two-year deal.
The 38-year-old Kunitz gives Chicago another experienced forward, Ward adds to the Blackhawks’ depth in goal after Corey Crawford missed most of last season, and Manning joins a mix of aging veterans and intriguing prospects on defense.
”The main thing for us is that we’ve been able in the past couple of years to accumulate a lot of really good young players who are on the cusp of breakout status [url=http://www.brownscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-kevin-zeitler-jersey]Kevin Zeitler Jersey[/url] ,” general manager Stan Bowman said in a conference call with reporters. ”In the process of turning it over to the young guys, you still have to mentor those young guys.”
Kunitz had 13 goals and 16 assists in 82 games with Tampa Bay last season. He also had an assist in 17 playoff games with the Lightning. The four-time Stanley Cup champion – with Anaheim in 2007 and Pittsburgh in 2009, 2016 and 2017 – also won gold with Canada at the 2014 Olympics.
”The goal from an organizational standpoint is to win a Stanley Cup,” Kunitz said. ”That’s what they’re looking to do every single year.”
He joins a Chicago team looking for a comeback after finishing last in the Central Division. Crawford got hurt in December and the Blackhawks tumbled to 33 wins and 76 points, their lowest totals since they went 31-42-9 during the 2006-07 season.
Upgrading its situation in net was one of Chicago’s top offseason priorities. Bowman said last month he expects Crawford ”to be back and ready to go in training camp [url=http://www.bengalscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-nick-vigil-jersey]Nick Vigil Jersey[/url] ,” and the goaltender is among the listed players who will attend Blackhawks Convention July 27-29, an annual event where current and former players meet fans and speak with reporters.
Anton Forsberg was acquired in the Artemi Panarin trade with Columbus last June, but he struggled in his first year as Crawford’s backup and his status is up in the air with the addition of Ward.
”We felt that was an area we wanted to get better at,” Bowman said. ”Anton had a great season for us the first few months when he was getting his feet under him as a NHL goalie, with Corey sort of carrying the load. … I think Anton can work his way to (being No. 1 guy) over time [url=http://www.bearscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-allen-robinson-jersey]Allen Robinson Jersey[/url] , but Cam has the long-time pedigree of being able to handle that.”
The 34-year-old Ward was selected by Carolina in the first round of the 2002 draft and spent his first 13 seasons with the Hurricanes. He went 23-14-4 last year with two shutouts, a 2.73 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage.
Ward also has 41 career playoff appearances. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2006 as playoff MVP when Carolina beat Edmonton for its only Stanley Cup title.
Ward noted the Hurricanes did not contact him during the week leading to the start of free agency.
”I understand they’re going in a different direction and that’s their idea,” he said. ”I always imagined myself retiring as a Hurricane and playing my whole career there. That being said, this has opened the door for a new opportunity and a new challenge for me. I’m excited to see what comes out of it.”
The 28-year-old Manning set career highs with seven goals and 12 assists in 65 games last season with Philadelphia. He also played in six postseason games.
Chicago also announced it had agreed to a three-year contract with defenseman Adam Boqvist. The Blackhawks selected the 17-year-old Boqvist with the eighth overall pick in this year’s draft.
Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews says he needs surgery on his nose after getting hit in the face with a line drive during a charity softball game.
Matthews was pitching during Saturday's game when offensive lineman Lucas Patrick hit the ball directly into Matthews' face, knocking him to the ground. The Green Bay Press Gazette reports that Matthews got up [url=http://www.lionscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-teez-tabor-jersey]Teez Tabor Jersey[/url] , covered his face with his glove, then walked to the dugout. He did not return to the game.
Matthews tweeted later that he busted his nose and would have surgery after the swelling subsides. He thanked fans for their well-wishes and expressed gratitude that his injury wasn't more serious.
The Packers are in the middle of their organized team activities. Matthews hasn't participated in OTAs because of a knee injury.
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