Trevor van Riemsdyk had a rough 2014-2015 campaign — but his play when he did take the ice (and, more importantly, his post-season appearances) was enough to show the Chicago Blackhawks that he deserved more time with the club.
The 23 year old blue liner, coming off his first season with Chicago following an impressive campaign with the University of New Hampshire, has been given a two year extension with the club worth an AAV of $825,000. The deal will reportedly pay him out $750,000 in the 2015-2016 season, then goes up to $900,000 in the second and final year — not ground-breaking, but important when negotiating his next deal with the club (which heâ€™ll be eligible for when he turns 25).
Undrafted at the NHL level, van Riemsdyk is the younger brother of Toronto Maple Leafs winger James van Riemsdyk — and the New Jersey native has made it clear that heâ€™s just as worthy of being in the NHL as his older sibling. He hasnâ€™t found his offensive game at the pro level yet — the puck-moving defenseman spent most of the season out on injured reserve, first with a fractured kneecap suffered in November then with wrist surgery — but his positioning and read of the game have immediately shown to be capable of handling the kind of workload a Chicago Blackhawks skater is expected to hold.
The Blackhawks likely upped him for a bit less than other teams may have due to their salary cap situation. The club has less than $1M in cap space to work with, and theyâ€™re sitting on five defensemen and thirteen forwards — and thatâ€™s with van Riemsdyk counting as an NHL defenseman next season. They have yet to renew the contract of RFA forward Marcus Kruger, and both UFA veteran blue liners Johnny Oduya and Michal Rozsival are sitting without deals as well.
For van Riemsdyk, though, taking the deal is actually in his best interest.
By appearing in four post-season games straight off injured reserve, van Riemsdyk was able to hoist the Stanley Cup this June with the club. Heâ€™s likely well aware of their cap situation, but also knows that taking a deal now primes him for a raise later. To stay on a team thatâ€™s won three Stanley Cups in six seasons is worth taking the cheaper deal now — and with less than a full season of NHL experience under his belt, thereâ€™s not much in the way of leverage beyond his playoff performance (good in the limited role he was given) to warrant a demanded higher deal.
Now that heâ€™s been re-inked, though, the Blackhawks do need to make a choice with their salary situation. The club canâ€™t ignore how close they are to the cap — and how many players they have on the roster. Theyâ€™ll have to fix that before the start of the season, or things could get tough for the Central Division club.