The Chicago Blackhawks have signed goaltender Alexander Salak (SAL-ak) to a two-year contract, and forwards Byron Froese (FRAYZ) and David Gilbert (zhihl-BAIR) to three-year entry-level contracts.
Salak, 24, helped lead Farjestad BK to the 2011 Swedish Elitserien championship, ranking second along league netminders with a 1.97 GAA and .926 save percentage in 33 regular-season contests. The goaltender was acquired by Chicago, along with forward Michael Frolik, in a trade with the Florida Panthers on February 9.
The Strakonice, Czech Republic, native made his North American debut last season, being honored as an American Hockey League All-Star in the midst of compiling a 29-14-0 record and a .910 save percentage over 50 games with the AHL’s Rochester Americans. He also made his National Hockey League debut, stopping 34-of-40 shots in two relief appearances with the Panthers.
Froese, 20, shared ninth in the Western Hockey League with a career-high 43 goals, including a league-leading 24 power-play markers, and ranked third on the Red Deer Rebels with a career-best 81 points in 70 regular-season games. The Winkler, Manitoba, native also paced the Rebels with five goals and added two assists in nine WHL postseason tilts.
Originally selected by the Blackhawks in the fourth round (119th overall) of the 2009 National Hockey League Entry Draft, Froese notched 99 goals and 115 assists in 233 career contests over parts of three WHL campaigns with Red Deer (2010-11) and the Everett Silvertips (2008-10).
Gilbert, 20, recorded a career-high 28 goals and 51 points, along with a +22 plus/minus rating, in 52 regular-season tilts with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan this season, and added three points (2G, A) in four Quebec Major Junior Hockey League postseason contests. Following the conclusion of his junior campaign the Chateauguay, Quebec, native notched three points (2G, A) and a +3 rating in five games with the American Hockey League’s Rockford IceHogs.
Originally selected by the Blackhawks in the seventh round (209th overall) of the 2009 National Hockey League Entry Draft, Gilbert notched 156 points (70G, 86A) and 112 penalty minutes in 209 regular-season contests over parts of four QMJHL seasons with the Quebec Remparts (2007-10) and Acadie-Bathurst (2010-11). He added 19 points (14G, 5A) in 37 career postseason tilts.