One of the questions concerning how the Blackhawks would handle long-term injured reserve with Marian Hossa was the timing of the matter.
As a result of declining to put Hossa on offseason LTIR, which would’ve let the team go over the cap this summer but with a hard limit on its in-season flexibility, they have to wait until the first day of the season to do so. Then the team will be allowed to go over the cap by up to $5.275 million, depending on how close they are to the $75 million upper limit at the time.
This could’ve been a complicated situation if the team needed to play a game on the first day of the season. However, the Blackhawks don’t play their season opener against the Penguins until Oct. 5, the second day of the season. On Monday, coach Joel Quenneville indicated this would allow the team to get its business done on Day 1 and have the full roster ready to go for Day 2.
Q said that since the #Blackhawks don't play on the first night of the season, he believes they can put Hossa on LTIR before Game 1.— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) September 18, 2017
He wasn't sure, but I believe that's correct. So the out-of-camp roster won't necessarily be the same as the Game 1 roster.— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) September 18, 2017
As Mark Lazerus notes, this is important for the sake of understanding what the Blackhawks do to open the season. Essentially, they have one goal for the first day of the season: get as close to $75 million in cap spending as possible. That will allow them to maximize the space created by LTIR, which can then be used to form the actual roster that will be used to open the season.
It’s going to be a bit of cap trickery, and it’s something to keep in mind as the season nears. For example, Cody Franson probably won’t be on the opening day roster, just because he’ll have to wait until the second day when the LTIR space exists to sign a contract. That won’t necessarily be a sign they’ve decided not to keep him.
GM Stan Bowman said recently that the team will take a “wait and see” approach to how to upgrade with the fresh cap space, so signing Franson to an affordable deal may be the only move to come initially. But the Blackhawks are going to have cap space to do something, so expect them to spend the early part of the season evaluating the best way to go about doing that.