Here's what the Blackhawks have on the salary cap books for next season
Get ready for another busy offseason as Chicago manages an expensive roster.
The Chicago Blackhawks know all about turnover. Nearly half of the current roster wasn't part of the team that won the Stanley Cup last year. Sustained winning in the salary cap era is all about retooling and that's something the Hawks have done regularly with a remarkable amount of success.
It's taken some creativity from GM Stan Bowman to fill out a roster topped with costly veterans. One strategy has been to target talented young free agents like Artemi Panarin, Erik Gustafsson and Scott Darling. Another has been to use assets to get teams to retain salary in trades.
Bowman will have to dig into his bag of tricks again this summer after the team's latest attempt to go all-in. The Hawks are clearly Stanley Cup contenders this year after acquiring Andrew Ladd, Tomas Fleischmann, Dale Weise and Christian Ehrhoff, but those guys will be gone come the offseason and bring about another challenging retooling, regardless of whether they're victorious in June.
A lot can (and will) change between now and training camp next fall, but it never hurts to see where the team is sitting right now. So here's a quick look at how the Hawks' salary cap commitments stack up for the 2016-17 season following a busy trade deadline, via Cap Friendly.
|Player ||Cap Hit |
| Jonathan Toews ||$10,500,000|
| Patrick Kane ||$10,500,000|
| Marian Hossa ||$5,275,000|
| Artem Anisimov ||$4,550,000|
|Teuvo Teravainen ||$894,166|
| Artemi Panarin ||$812,500|
| Andrew Desjardins ||$800,000|
|Player||Cap Hit |
|Brent Seabrook ||$6,875,000 |
| Duncan Keith ||$5,538,461|
|Niklas Hjalmarsson ||$4,100,00|
| Ville Pokka ||$925,000|
|Trevor van Riemsdyk ||$825,000|
| Erik Gustafsson ||$667,500|
|Player||Cap Hit |
| Corey Crawford ||$6,000,000|
|Scott Darling ||$587,500|
|Player||Cap Hit |
|Bryan Bickell ||$3,050,000|
|Rob Scuderi ||$1,125,000|
|Cap Overage ||$641,000 (estimation) |
| David Rundblad ||$100,000 |
Add everything up, and that's a total projected cap commitment of $63.766 million for seven forwards, six defensemen and two goaltenders.
The cap overage is an estimation based on a $800,000 bonus paid to Artemi Panarin and a $100,000 bonus paid to Michal Rozsival for this season. Cap Friendly estimates the Hawks will have $259,276 of cap space at the end of the season, so the remaining roughly $641,000 would be turned into a cap overage for the 2016-17 season. If Panarin also hits his Schedule B bonus, which would pay out a $1.725 million bonus, then obviously you could tack a significantly larger sum onto the team's books.
Based on this projection, the team would still need to fit, at the very least, six more forwards and one more defenseman onto the roster. Restricted free agents Andrew Shaw, Marcus Kruger, Richard Panik, Dennis Rasmussen, Viktor Svedberg and Mark McNeill aren't included and could fill some of those spots.
Assuming the cap either holds steady or goes up at a similar rate to last offseason, the Hawks will have between $7.6 million and $10 million to fill those gaps. Even at the higher end, which might be unlikely depending on who you ask, you're not talking about much money for seven players. The team will surely try to retain guys like Shaw and Kruger, but it's possible we another major shakeup like the one that played out last offseason. The Hawks might want to try to recoup some of the assets they lost recently. Maybe the market for Shaw proves more robust than expected, not unlike Brandon Saad.
One thing that is highly likely is a lineup loaded with cheap salaries. Panarin, Teravainen, Desjardins, van Riemsdyk, Gustafsson and Darling all make less than $1 million. Ville Pokka, who is included in the projection above, would be another one. There are several others who could factor in with affordable cap hits: Ryan Hartman, Kyle Baun, Vincent Hinostroza and Tanner Kero are all signed for next season. All of the non-Shaw RFAs could end up being fairly cheap, too. We know that the Hawks will want a veteran presence around come spring of 2017, but with Seabrook and Anisimov seeing raises and lots of dead money still on the books, the additions will have to come cheap.
It leaves two remaining variables that could really impact the team's situation: the salary cap increase and Panarin's Schedule B bonus. Those two factors could sway the amount of money Bowman has to work with by millions of dollars.
Panarin will trigger that hefty bonus if he finishes top 10 among forwards in points, assists or goals. He's currently tied for 12th in assists, tied for 19th in goals and tied for 8th in points. Adding nearly $2 million to the books would almost ensure the departure of Shaw and possibly demand other money be moved, either by trading a big name -- and we're talking part of The Core big -- or finding some way to clear Bryan Bickell's salary. The team needs Panarin producing and he's a solid value even with the bonuses, but that's no small amount of cap space.
Overall, this should tell you that the Hawks are in for another busy summer even after the mass exodus of last offseason. The team's decision to retain the core of Toews-Kane-Hossa-Keith-Seabrook-Hjalmarsson-Crawford has required players to be moved in the past and that'll be no different this year. The good news is that the Hawks have prepared for this situation by loading up on useful players with affordable salaries for 2016-17, and as we've seen this season, there's no shortage of creativity in Chicago when it comes to making upgrades within the salary cap's confines. This spring should be pretty fun, too.