Zawaski's Hawks Notes: Will Perlini Re-Sign?

Brendan Perlini remains a restricted free agent as camp nears.

Jay Zawaski
August 22, 2019 - 11:21 am
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(670 The Score) We’re still three weeks away from the start of the NHL preseason. While it’s one of the quietest periods on the hockey calendar, there are still some topics of discussion around the league, including with the Blackhawks. Let's take a look.

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Perlini still unsigned

Winger Brendan Perlini remains a restricted free agent. The Blackhawks were looking to trade him earlier in the summer, as I previously reported. The Blackhawks acquired Perlini from the Coyotes in a trade last November that also brought them center Dylan Strome. After getting off to a slow start, Perlini had a quality finish, recording 10 points in his last 17 games.

Even so, he wasn't the player whom the Blackhawks thought they were getting when they made the deal. They hoped Perlini would become a frequent offensive contributor to their top nine, but his inconsistency was disappointing.

The Blackhawks and Perlini are now getting close to a deal, Scott Powers of the Athletic reported Monday. Perlini's camp is reportedly seeking $1.5 million, while the Hawks want to pay $1 million. The difference may not seem like a big deal, but in a hard-cap league, every penny counts. Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has been burned by the "extra $500,000 here, extra $1 million there" that he has thrown around in the past. Hopefully, he’s learned his lesson. 

While the Hawks aren’t loaded with elite talent at forward, they have a glut of second-tier types, which is the category in which Perlini falls. Dylan Sikura, Dominik Kubalik, Alex Nylander, Drake Caggiula, John Quenneville, Aleksi Saarela and Anton Wedin will all by vying for top-nine roles.

Perlini feels like a luxury to me. I’m not sure adding him at $1 million-$1.5 million is worth it with so many other options. To be clear, I do feel Perlini is worth that money -- but perhaps not to the Blackhawks. Could a sign-and-trade be in the works? Maybe.

With all those players in the mix and a fair shot that first-round draft pick Kirby Dach makes the team out of camp, I’m not sure there’s a point to having Perlini on the roster.

NHL Network top-20 lists

I know, I know, I know. The NHL Network's top-20 lists are made to make meatballs like me angry, but I just can't resist.

If you missed it, the NHL Network has been rolling out its top-20 positional lists. Patrick Kane is the lone Blackhawk to make an appearance so far, as he was ranked the No. 2 winger in the league, behind Nikita Kucherov of the Lightning.

Missing from the top-20 wingers list was the Blackhawks' Alex DeBrincat. That's the 41-goal scorer DeBrincat, as ranked third in the NHL in that department.

How can DeBrincat not be on the list? At 21, he's a weapon on the power play and responsible in his own end.

Maybe NHL Network is using the criteria of "top 20 today." OK, I'll accept that. But if that's the case, how is Jonathan Toews -- who's coming off a bounce-back season and a career-high in points -- not be on the top-20 list of centers?

Long story short, you can’t have neither Toews nor DeBrincat. One of those guys has to be honored on the lists.

The NHL Network has released its top 20 centers, wingers and defensemen. The only remaining list is goaltenders. I wonder if the Blackhawks' Corey Crawford or Robin Lehner will be on the list. I’d count on at least one of them, and I’d bet dollar to donuts it’s not Crawford.

Colliton has difficult decisions looming

There are two similar situations that Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton will have to deal with in the upcoming season. It's center on legacy vs. worthiness.

When the Blackhawks signed Lehner, they upgraded in goal. As much as I’ve been called a Crawford apologist, there's little doubt that Lehner is the better goalie today. Will he be willing to ignore Crawford's history and make Lehner the starter if he’s proving to be the better goalie?

There's a similar issue brewing on the blue line. Adam Boqvist nearly made the team out of camp last season. Instead, he reported to the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, had a huge year and looked like the best player on the ice at the Blackhawks' prospects camp this year. Based on what I’ve seen so far, Boqvist is going to force the Blackhawks' hands this preseason.

The Blackhawks' top six defensemen seem to be set in Duncan Keith, Calvin de Haan, Connor Murphy, Olli Maatta, Erik Gustafsson and Brent Seabrook. But I believe Boqvist is better than at least two of those defensemen -- Seabrook and Maatta. Will Colliton have the nerve to make Seabrook the team's seventh defenseman, forcing him to the press box more often than not?

This roster isn't good enough to play favorites. I'm fascinated to see how these situations will play out. 

Jay Zawaski is the executive producer of the Bernstein & McKnight Show on 670 middays from 9 a.m. to noon and a columnist for 670 The Score. He's also the co-host of the Madhouse Chicago Hockey Podcast, which is available on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify or your preferred podcast app. Follow him on Twitter @JayZawaski670.​​​