There’s been speculation as to what the Hawks will do once Hossa goes on LTIR due to the skin condition that’s sidelined him for the 2017-18 season. The team will have up to $5.275 million in cap space, depending on how the final numbers shake out, which should give Bowman ample flexibility to improve the roster in-season.
Just don’t expect the Blackhawks to rush into a thin October trade market looking to make something happen. There may be some intriguing names out there, including Avalanche center Matt Duchene, but a deal doesn’t need to be made early just for the sake of making one. Finding the right deal with the right fit will be important here, and Bowman will have until late February to get this done.
Cody Franson might get a deal once the season begins, but it doesn’t sound like that’ll take up the majority of the LTIR cap space. He looks likely to be getting a sizable paycut from the nearly $10 million he got over the past three years combined.
If Franson signs for something like $1.5 million, when you factor in that he’s replacing someone like Jan Rutta, who makes $925,000, the increase in cap hit is really only like $575,000. That’s not an amount that’ll prevent the Hawks from swinging for the fences later on.
Going big early might sound intriguing, but it makes sense for the team to take a more measured approach here. There’s not a ton to be gained from operating in a position of desperation, and the team has loads of young players who are worth trying out.
Why go trade a bunch of assets for a veteran lefty blue liner to fill a top-four role before you’ve even seen whether Gustav Forsling could be ready to fill the job for $872,500? If he’s not ready and it costs you a couple wins in November, it’s not exactly a backbreaker. Go make a trade then, once you’ve exhausted some other options.
None of this is exactly shocking news, but it’s the latest crumb of what the Hawks plan to do to improve this team during the season. Adding another good top-four defenseman or a strong forward to fill out the top-nine could be huge. The team might also need to go get a backup goalie if Anton Forsberg and Jean-Francois Berube have issues.
If Joe Sakic was feeling just amazing one morning and decided he’d trade Duchene with $3 million retained to the Hawks for Ville Pokka and a first-round pick, of course you do it. But that’s not gonna happen, so we’ll just have to wait and see like everybody else.