The Chicago Blackhawks’ offseason kicks off in earnest with the Vegas Golden Knights’ expansion draft. All 30 teams will lose a player to Vegas, and that’ll be no different for Chicago.
The Blackhawks already have made various moves this offseason, including changes to the coaching staff, re-signing Richard Panik, and trading Scott Darling to the Hurricanes. What they haven’t done yet is clear the cap space that’ll allow them to be compliant under the upper limit next season.
Depending on where the final cap number for 2017-18 is — the latest reports say that it’ll fall somewhere between $75-77 million — will determine just what GM Stan Bowman needs to do this summer. But big changes are coming no matter what, and a higher cap may just give Bowman the extra leverage he needs to reload the Blackhawks on the fly.
First, there’s the expansion draft, and it’ll set the dominos to fall for the rest of the offseason. So how exactly will this all work, and what impact will it have on the Blackhawks in the end? Here’s everything you need to know.
June 17, 5 p.m. ET — Deadline for submission of protection lists by the 30 teams
June 18, 10 a.m. ET — Protection lists released to the public
June 18-21 — Roster freeze for all non-Vegas trades and signings
June 21, 10 a.m. ET — Vegas submits expansion draft player selections
June 21, 8 p.m. ET — NHL Awards Show, including announcement of Vegas picks
Expansion draft rules
There are rules for both how the 30 current teams can organize their protection lists and how Vegas can build its roster.
Protection list rules
- Each team can protect up to seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goaltender, or nine players regardless of position.
- All players with no-movement clauses must be protected unless they’ve agreed to waive.
- Any player with two or fewer years of NHL/AHL experience is exempt.
- Teams must expose players who meet certain criteria. There must be at least one defensemen and two forwards who are under contract for 2017-18 and played at least 40 NHL games in 2016-17 or 70 NHL games total since the start of 2015-16. Teams must also expose a goaltender who is either under contract for the 2017-18 season or about to enter restricted free agency.
Golden Knights selection rules
- Vegas must select one player from each franchise.
- The final roster must include at least 14 forwards, nine defensemen, and three goaltenders.
- At least 20 of the 30 players selected have to be under contract for the 2017-18 season.
- The total cap hit of players selected must be between $43.8 million and $73 million.
Who will the Blackhawks protect from Vegas?
Most of Chicago’s protection list is already a lock at this point. The team has eight players on no-movement clauses who will need to be automatically protected. So the real remaining choice is between protecting one more defenseman or three more forwards.
The latter is much more likely given the need to keep Panik and (more importantly) Ryan Hartman. Here’s how that’ll likely break down.
Jonathan Toews (NMC), Patrick Kane (NMC), Artem Anisimov (NMC), Marian Hossa (NMC), Richard Panik, Ryan Hartman, Tomas Jurco, Brent Seabrook (NMC), Duncan Keith (NMC), Niklas Hjalmarsson (NMC), Corey Crawford (NMC)
Artemi Panarin, Jan Rutta, Nick Schmaltz, John Hayden, Tyler Motte, Alex DeBrincat, Vinnie Hinostroza, Gustav Forsling, Michal Kempny, Tanner Kero, Anthony Louis, Carl Dahlstrom, Luc Snuggerud, Robin Norell, Erik Gustafsson, David Kampf, Nathan Noel, Matthew Highmore, Matheson Iacopelli, Graham Knott, Luke Johnson, Alexandre Fortin, Kyle Baun, Kenton Helgesen, Nolan Valleau
Marcus Kruger, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Jordin Tootoo, Ville Pokka, Brian Campbell, Dennis Rasmussen, Michael Latta, Brandon Mashinter, Andrew Desjardins, Pierre-Cedric Labrie, Viktor Svedberg, Michal Rozsival, Johnny Oduya
Technically, the Golden Knights could sign an unrestricted free agent such as Campbell or Desjardins to a deal during the June 18-21 window, then use him as their Blackhawks pick in the expansion draft. That’s highly unlikely, however.
Who will the Golden Knights get from the Blackhawks?
All indications are that, one way or another, Vegas will end up with both Kruger and van Riemsdyk. The main target for the Golden Knights is TVR, but the Blackhawks are working toward a package deal that allow them to shed Kruger’s $3.08 million cap hit.
Things could still change between now and the draft, so it’s unclear exactly how the deal might come together.
Will the Blackhawks trade Kruger to Vegas for “future considerations” in exchange for agreeing to leave TVR unprotected (rather than trying to trade him to another team in the next day or two)? Will the Hawks attach a pick or prospect to the deal to grease the wheels for Vegas?
It’s also still possible that the Kruger trade falls through and the Golden Knights try to just select TVR straight up. That would force the Hawks to find a new suitor for Kruger, although they still retain some leverage here through the threat of being able to trade TVR elsewhere soon.
If the Hawks decided to go through with that and trade TVR, it’d leave the Golden Knights to either select Kruger or an underwhelming option like Pokka, Tootoo, or Rasmussen, who is an RFA. They may prefer to just take the TVR/Kruger package deal, especially if they can get another asset in the process, then get cornered into drafting a less valuable player like Pokka.
But no matter what, the Blackhawks are going to lose a piece over the next week that they didn’t want to. The good news is that it’ll be a role player like TVR and/or Kruger, and not one of the stars.