Today the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks announced that they signed four prospects to three-year entry-level contracts, including Silvertips goaltender Kent Simpson.
Simpson was one of Chicago’s second-round picks in the 2010 NHL draft, being selected 58th overall. The 20-year-old from Edmonton, Alberta, has spent four seasons with Everett. The past season Simpson went 20-31-2-5 with a 3.33 goals against average and .909 save percentage. Simpson was particularly effective during the season’s final two months, when the Tips made their push from having the league’s worst record to earning a playoff spot.
So congratulations to Kent. I was getting a little concerned because this went down to the wire — the deadline for NHL teams to sign players drafted from the Canadian Hockey League in 2010 is later this week. Glad to see he was able to secure a deal, especially considering news broke over the weekend that fellow 2010 draftee Mac Carruth, Portland’s goaltender, had signed with the Blackhawks.
Chances are this means Simpson won’t be returning to the WHL next season. As a 20-year-old Simpson will be eligible to play professionally in the minors, and the Tips have stated publicly that they’re expecting Simpson to play pro next season. But if there’s a position where a signed 20-year-old is more likely to be returned to juniors, it’s probably goaltender. We’ll have to see whether the Blackhawks having two signed 20-year-old goalies is a factor, too.
With Simpson a likely pro, and with defenseman Dominik Bittner signing to play professionally in his native Germany, that leaves Everett with forwards Ryan Harrison, Cody Fowlie and JT Barnett as the players currently occupying the Tips’ probable three overage slots for next season.