A few quick hits regarding the Blackhawks salary cap situation:
- Chicago has 10 upcoming free agents, four UFAs and six RFAs.
- They have $1.234 million available to sign these players.
- There is at least $3.5 million invested in each of the following players: Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Brian Campbell, Patrick Kane, Jonathon Toews, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and Cristobal Huet. Plus, Kris Versteeg, Dustin Byfuglien and Dave Bolland are each on for $3 million.
The Hawks are in a very precarious situation moving into Friday’s draft. Of their upcoming free agents, Nick Boynton and Kim Johnsson aren’t likely to be brought back. As UFAs and veteran defensemen the pair don’t have a big impact in the future of the organization.
John Madden and Adam Burish are both UFAs as well, but both would be smart resignings considering they’re strong role players and checking line forwards. But, there is simply no money to be spent on these players. Not to mention RFAs Andrew Ladd, Colin Fraser, Ben Eager, Jordan Hendry and Niklas Hjalmarsson.
If it was my decision, I wouldn’t bring Eager or Fraser back into the fold. But, I would find a way to sign Hendry, Hjarlmarsson, Madden and Burish. Plus, goaltender Antti Niemi needs a new contract. That would mean the Hawks would need to unload at least $8-10 million in salary plus whatever they need to sign any additional players to fill out the roster.
The most feasible option would begin with buying out Cristobal Huet and his $5.625 million salary followed by trading away at least two of their forwards who are on the books for $3 million. The most likely option, in my opinion would be to move Versteeg and Byfuglien. Those three moves would free up about $10 million for resignings.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie has floated the idea of unloading some extra wingers, including Andrew Ladd. Here is his tweet on the matter: “I don’t believe Sharp will be moved. Strategy seems to be to keep strength in middle – Toews, Bolland, Sharp. Expendables are wingers.” He followed with this tweet regarding a possible trade of Ladd, “Vancouver is one of the teams said be most interested, which of course is funny. Ladd is a B.C. boy but had a running battle with Kesler etc.”
Depending on who is added to the Hawks’ roster, Chicago could be a serious possibility to repeat or a strong team with a tough battle to return to the Finals. I fear that the strong top six will not balance out with Chicago’s bottom six next season. Add to that their bottom pair of defensemen who may not be as strong as the pair that helped them win the Cup this year.
How the rest of this week plays out will show where the Hawks plans are moving forward. The Draft will likely lead to a few moves, hopefully the Hawks are part of one or two.