Blackhawks sign defensive specialist forward Mattias Janmark to 1-year contract

Blackhawks sign defensive specialist forward Mattias Janmark to 1-year contract

Mattias Janmark made it to the Stanley Cup Final with the Stars this past season. | Getty

Janmark scored 21 points in 62 games with the Stars last season, but made more impact in his own zone.

The Blackhawks ventured into the free-agent market for the first time in 2020 on Monday, signing depth forward Mattias Janmark.

Janmark’s contract is for just one year with a $2.25 million cap hit.

While not particularly high-profile, the signing does fill an area of need for the Hawks, and does so without blocking the immediate NHL route of any of the team’s top prospects. In that sense, it’s a lot wiser than the Brandon Saad-for-Nikita Zadorov trade that made headlines Saturday.

Janmark, who will turn 28 in December, scored six goals and 21 points in 62 regular-season games for the Stars last year, his fourth in the NHL. He’s produced at basically that same modest rate throughout all four of them, topping out at 19 goals and 34 points in 81 games in 2017-18.

In the defensive zone, however, Janmark has had a very positive impact.

Opponents create significantly fewer shot attempts from the slot, especially the lower slot, when Janmark is on the ice compared to the league average. This past season, he ranked third on the Stars — a very good defensive team in general — in scoring chances allowed per minute and fourth in scoring chance ratio (54.4%).

The Hawks, conversely, allowed the most scoring chances against in the NHL, in large part due to the defensive struggles of their forward group. So Janmark should help out there, even in a third- or fourth-line.

The Swedish forward also brings valuable postseason experience from the Stars’ Stanley Cup Final run, during which he tallied eight points in 26 games.

Best of all, the Hawks’ lack of NHL-ready forward prospects — as opposed to their glut of NHL-ready defensive prospects — means Janmark’s addition won’t over-clog the forward depth chart during the team’s supposed new rebuild. Neither Philipp Kurashev nor Brandon Hagel would fill a remotely similar role to Janmark, anyway.

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