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Here’s how Blackhawks will get cap compliant to open the 2017-18 season

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It looks like the plan is coming together.

2013 NHL Draft Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

UPDATE: So the Hawks’ plan got changed up a bit with the unexpected move to place Rozsival on LTIR on Monday. As Cap Friendly notes, this was actually a rather brilliant move intended to allow Chicago to maximize the cap exception created by Hossa going on LTIR soon. Here’s a breakdown of how that’ll work:

So it’s essentially the same idea as the one described below, but Rozsival going on LTIR now allows them to squeak out an extra bit of cap flexibility.


The Chicago Blackhawks are almost done putting together their roster to open the 2017-18 season. However, the injured status of Marian Hossa and Michal Rozsival complicates things a bit. With that in mind, let’s do a quick explainer on how the Hawks will get cap compliant for opening day, and what will happen next.

So to start off, the Blackhawks need to be under the $75 million upper limit on opening day with Hossa and Rozsival on the books. This is part of why the team didn’t spend much money this summer, even though LTIR will allow the team to go over the cap during the season.

Based on the way LTIR works, GM Stan Bowman’s main goal for Day 1 of the season is to get as close to $75 million in cap spending as possible. That’ll maximize the exception Chicago receives for Hossa/Rozsival’s LTIR status, and allow the team to replenish its roster on Day 2 before the season opener.

Getting into the details, the Blackhawks have 14 forwards, eight defensemen, and two goalies on their current roster. Based on my rough math, including the team’s $3.558 million cap overage, that group combines for a cap hit of $76,985,625.

The Hawks still need to shave nearly $2 million from their books

So the Hawks will need to get that figure down from nearly $77 million to below $75 million by opening day. The good news is that, based on their current personnel, there’s an obvious way to do this without causing any damage.

The Blackhawks will reassign Nick Schmaltz, Alex DeBrincat, and Gustav Forsling to the AHL for one day. All of them are waiver-exempt, so that’s a non-issue. They have a combined cap hit of $2,575,833, so the team’s cap figure with them off the books would drop to $74,409,795. That would give the Hawks an exception to go roughly $5,334,795 over the cap once Hossa/Rozsival go on LTIR.

Then on the second day of the season, the Blackhawks can simply recall whoever they want back onto the roster without any concern about the salary cap. This is a bit of cap trickery, but it’s by nature given the way LTIR operates. The roster for Day 1 won’t be the roster used for Day 2, as it’ll simply be for paperwork purposes to stay on the right side of the league’s rules.

The only real way this plan could get blown up at this point would be the NHL refusing to grant LTIR status to Hossa, which would be a massive problem for the Blackhawks. They’re dragging on that decision a bit, but all indications are that they’ll approve Hossa’s skin condition as a legitimate reason to use LTIR.

So this is a rough sketch of how the Blackhawks will get cap compliant for opening day. Props to Bowman and company for navigating a pretty difficult situation while assembling a team that has a lot of fans excited.

Here’s a look at the likely roster for Oct. 5 against Pittsburgh, as currently constructed following Monday’s roster moves. The only question mark now is whether Cody Franson gets a deal and the team carries eight defensemen, which it should be able to do once it gets LTIR space.

Blackhawks

Position Players
Position Players
F1 Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Richard Panik
F2 Ryan Hartman - Artem Anisimov - Patrick Kane
F3 Patrick Sharp - Tanner Kero - Alex DeBrincat
F4 Lance Bouma - Tommy Wingels - John Hayden
D1 Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
D2 Michal Kempny - Connor Murphy
D3 Gustav Forsling - Jan Rutta
Goaltender Corey Crawford