Blackhawks Free Agency: What Jamal Mayers Means This Summer

With reports that the Blackhawks signed forward Jamal Mayers for another year, the Hawks have a pretty full roster already looking ahead to the 2012-13 season.

So what does the Mayers signing mean to this summer’s free agent agenda for Chicago?

First, we’ll look forward with one assumption: not all rookies have a guaranteed roster spot. After a strong playoff performance against Vancouver, Ben Smith’s injuries during the preseason sent him to Rockford to begin the 2011-12 season and he didn’t get back to the NHL.

While Andrew Shaw was certainly impressive in his time with the Hawks, assuming Jimmy Hayes or Dylan Olsen is in Chicago in October isn’t set in stone. The only rookie we can safely put on the NHL roster for Opening Night (if healthy) is Marcus Kruger.

With that in mind, if we remove Shaw, Hayes and Olsen from the NHL roster, the Blackhawks still have an intriguing lineup already in place. Consider these potential lines, filled with players already under contract (with the grain of salt that the positions might not be best suited for the player):

Patrick Sharp – Jonathan Toews – Patrick Kane
Viktor Stalberg – Marcus Kruger – Marian Hossa
Bryan Bickell – Dave Bolland – Michael Frolik
_________ – Jamal Mayers – Daniel Carcillo

Add to those lines the defensive pairs that are already under contract:

Duncan Keith – Brent Seabrook
Nick Leddy – Niklas Hjalmarsson
Steve Montador – ___________

And, of course, the Blackhawks already have both Corey Crawford and Ray Emery already signed for next year.

What does that add up to?

The lineup presented is 18 players and just a shade over $57.4M committed for the 2012-13 season. There are only two available roster positions in the lineup, and however many reserves the organization wants to carry during the season.

The good news: if the NHL doesn’t raise the salary cap one cent for the 2012-13 season (a real possibility with the CBA expiring in September), this Blackhawks team would have over $8.5M to fill those two roster spots. That dollar amount could mean a marquee free agent is affordable for the Hawks this summer.

Now consider the cap hits of potential youngsters that could be part of the mix this fall:

  • Andrew Shaw: $565,000
  • Brandon Saad: $894,667
  • Jimmy Hayes: $875,000
  • Dylan Olsen: $870,000
  • Jeremy Morin: $866,667
  • Brandon Pirri: $870,000
  • Kyle Beach: $1,170,833

Without a trade, the Blackhawks could use any one or two of these youngsters to fill out their roster and still have enough cap space to sign a premier free agent this summer.

But there’s another layer to the Hawks’ roster debate: who gets the final spot?

With Carcillo and Mayers signed for next year, there will be pressure on a number of players entering the final year of their respective contracts.

Specifically, Beach has one year left before becoming a restricted free agent. With Shaw, Hayes, Morin and Pirri all seeing NHL ice time before him, and coming back from an injury that cost him most of last year, he’ll have a great deal of pressure to have a great training camp.

Some other prospects will also have an uphill climb this season. Shawn Lalonde, Ryan Stanton and Joe Lavin are all likely to be on the Rockford blue line next season in the final seasons of their respective entry-level contracts.

There will also be a battle in net next season in Rockford. Alex Salak and Alec Richards both have one year left on their deal, and Carter Hutton is a restricted free agent. Adding Mac Carruth to that mix, there are four guys for two roster spots in the AHL. One (Salak) might be headed back to Europe, but that’s still a crowded crease.

We haven’t mentioned Brandon Bollig yet. He and Ben Smith present a couple intriguing restricted free agent cases for management. Will the Hawks give another year or two to either of them after each provided some value during a playoff series? Or will they be casualties of a filled roster?

The evolution of this lineup will only continue as trades come into play and the new CBA is (hopefully) finalized. But what has become clear is the cap flexibility Stan Bowman will have to make the Hawks a Cup contender at this time next year.

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33 Responses to Blackhawks Free Agency: What Jamal Mayers Means This Summer

  1. Bryan says:

    I was really hoping that Adam Burish would be brought back as our 4th line center.

  2. Glenn says:

    Tab, I might be missing something but your math doesn’t seem right. I think the 2011/12 salary cap was $64.3M, so if the Hawks have $57.4M in committed salary for 2012/13 – then their remaining cap space would be $6.9M – not $8.5M. Plus Olesz is still on the payroll for $3.1M (for 2 more years I think) and I question whether Rocky will agree to continue to pay him that much to play in Rockford just to have that cap space available for Stan to use. I’ve got to think there is some thought to buying him out which would charge some of that $3.1M to the 2012/13 cap.

  3. Tab Bamford says:

    Glenn: what you missed was my exclusion of all rookies from the 11-12 team except Kruger from the cap projection. Go back to the first couple paragraphs under the photo, and then look at the lines I projected… it’s pretty clear.

    And if he’ll pay Huet to go to Europe, he’ll do the same w/ Olesz if it keeps him out of Chicago. No need to waste cap space on a buyout if the CBA doesn’t force you to use space on a demotion and/or player overseas.

  4. Morrison says:

    That 57.4 is Counting 2 additional prospects/players. Its only 55.748 for those 18 players, which leaves us 8.552,000 to have 20 dressed players. We don’t need/have to have 23 roster players. Thats just the max… Since we have so many good prospects, they can come up and play when needed and dont have to count against the cap. As long as whoever is temporaily out isnt a lower salary than the back up guys…

    This means we could go we deeper talent/$ in lines & still have all our guys in rockford just waiting to punce/comeup & play in chicago. If at anypoint one of the prospects is better or plays so good when there up, they can stay instead. (like how Shaw did, instead of Fro, etc.) Unless we need 12.200 [8.5 + 2.750(monty) + 2.333(fro) - .870(olsen)-.565(shaw)] = 12.200,000 to sign those 2 players, we can keep everyone & add those free agents… for 8.552

    Options:
    12.200,000 = Suter @ 7.000, Hannon/Obrien/Knuble @ 2.000 & Jokinen/pf @3.200
    or
    Suter @ 7.000, Wideman/Carle/Jackman @ 5.200

    8.552,000 = Wideman/Carle/Jackman @ 5.200, Garrison/center/pf @3.300
    or
    Suter @ 7.000, center/pf @1.500

    Either way its Beautifull!, its always good to have options.

  5. Tab Bamford says:

    I’ve begged for this before, but apparently I have to ask it again.

    PLEASE STOP SUGGESTING THE BLACKHAWKS SIGN SHANE O’BRIEN. HE SUCKS & CRIES ABOUT EVERYTHING.

    Thank you.

  6. Everettsanipass says:

    How much cap space did Stan send the regular season with? To have the cap space and to actually USE the cap space are two different things!!!

  7. Tim M. says:

    I like the lineup you have posted with Shaw in that fourth line with Mayers and Carcillo, as long as they can keep the recklessness at a minimum and not be too much of a PK producer. The last defense spot, (assuming that there is only one and that Hjarmalsson isn’t moved) is really intriguing. I like Wideman there myself. But you just don’t know what Stan B. is going to do. What gets them tougher and smarter in the defensive zone so that they can help out Crawford? Oduya was serviceable, but maybe not a longer term answer.

  8. Morrison says:

    Didnt see thing on Obrien & dont want too.

    Are these our best options:
    Suter,Wideman,Carle,Jackman,Allen,or Hannon
    &
    pf?

    *What are the best free agaent power forwards available? & who would we want?

  9. Brad Stevenson says:

    That roster, even with one marque player signed??? Doesn’t win a playoff series…that is a team that gets injured, that is too often pushed around, doesn’t have playoff calibre goaltending, that has coaching/mgt. issues…

    Unless the Hawks take their situation seriously and address their 2 HUGE needs this off season, they are doomed to another 1st round exit.

  10. BHawk78 says:

    The surprising resignings of both Carcillo and Mayers indicates to me that the Hawks don’t believe some of their young guys are ready for prime time yet. Aside from Shaw, I don’t think any of the young forwards have a roster spot locked up yet. Truth be told I’m not really that high on Kruger, Leddy and Olsen as of right now. I think all 3 get a little too much love that I don’t think they’ve earned quite yet. I expect some moves over the Summer and come October I think we’ll see a more experienced Hawks team and they’ll do away with having a team of having too many rookies/Ice Hogs that are not ready yet.

  11. Ethan says:

    Well done again tab! Bollig should be resigned again even though not overwhelmingly big he is fearless and will stick up for teammates! I do not like Kruger he is small not good in the dot and i think his spot could be used for a much needed big center (but we know how good stan is at finding one of them) or power forward. Knowing we wont be doin anything between the pipes we must upgrade on the back end get bigger and stronger and we’ll be much better off! Trade Hammer(less) sign suter or wideman and bryan allen!

  12. Ethan says:

    And I would be shocked if Fro was in the lineup.

  13. wall says:

    Brad, I somewhat agree w the Hawks will not win playoff series w that line up…. unless they fill the 2 spots w real physical talents…

    the “somewhat” — is unless Saad or another rookie really steps it up or Kane plays like a
    MAN! Both of those are less than 50/50!

    If Bowman could have got Dustin Brown (when kings were rumored to be shopping him) or Shane Doan before Coyotes were for real… Hawks could be in finals IMO!!!
    That being said…. they are the type of player the Hawks so desperately need… even if that means getting rid of Paddy-Cakes Kane!

  14. Dickie Dunn says:

    I don’t think the situation is as bad as some fans believe. Like Bowman, I like the Hawks talent – if they can stay healthy. I think they should focus on Suter, and ideally find a team interested in giving equal value for Hjarlmarsson. Unfortunately nobody knows the status of Hossa and Montador going into 2012-13 – that impacts decision making. I like Kruger – he had a decent rookie season and he understands defensive accountability. He might not add a lot of size, but he will improve. Leddy has shown a lot of skill – when assessing, consider the learning curve for all young defensemen. We didn’t see enough of Olsen to really know, but I don’t recall him embarrassing himself. I certainly would not OVERpay for Jordan Staal or Tomas Plekanec (proposed trades I saw on other blogs) – they’re good, but so are Bolland and the Hawks top prospects. It should be interesting however it plays out.

  15. shamrock says:

    The hawks haveto think big. Detroit is going to get much better this offseason and will add Suter and/or Parise. The Hawks have to add a difference maker if they want to stay relevant.

  16. Dickie Dunn says:

    Maybe Bowman didn’t go overboard spending at the trade deadline because he’s thinking big – Suter (or Parise)?

  17. Pete says:

    As Tab points out they have the money to sign Suter. So IMO this is easy. Sign Suter and then fill out the roster with the younger players mentioned in the article. Obviously they should pick whichever ones are most ready to perform and produce. It would be a huge mistake to add another round of over the hill veterans on their last stop before retirement.

  18. Boogknight2002 says:

    Are we sure Bickell and Bolland are safe? For some reason I feel like a package with a draft pick could bring the second line center to the UC.

  19. Dave says:

    Where did he say they’ll have the cash to sign Suter? They’ll have upwards of $50 mil to sign him???

  20. Dickie Dunn says:

    There seems to be a widespread demand for Bowman to make a move (“at whatever cost”, seems to be indicated by some opinions) for acquire a second line center. Does anybody else remember the play of Sharp/Kruger/Stalberg as a (second) line late last season? Maybe Kruger deserves a shot? Toews, Kruger, Bolland, and Mayers might not be too bad. If Mayers can’t be effective at center for 82 games, Quenneville can probably shuffle/adjust. It’s possible the Hawks envisioned Mark McNeill the second line center when they drafted him. (Or, perhaps eventually, Phillip Danault?) Something to consider?

  21. rubber puck says:

    suter would get around 7 mil, they do have the cap space (not $50 mil in one year!)

  22. Travis says:

    looks like a good start, we just need some big, bruising, physical forwards. you know, the ones that knock d-men on their asses below the goal line on the forecheck, cause the goalie havoc on the power play, and rub out speed in the neutral zone with punishing hits. the ones that got LA to the final.

    one or two power forwards and a crease clearer = blackhawks as cup contenders or favorites in 2013. don’t care who plays in net.

  23. Boogknight2002 says:

    Bolland and Leddy to Pittsburgh for J Staal.
    6 foot 4 220 pound second line center slotted between Hossa and Stalberg

  24. Negzz says:

    Agree w/Brad, our current lineup featuring our “top-6″ is not going to win when it counts. Too small and lacks physicality/size. Further, too many guys that have now won the cup are not ready/able to pay the price to get there again. When you cut your character guys for skill only, this is what happens.

    So, the future? The well documented top problems of this team is we are soft front to back and our PP/PK was terrible. Suter is a great answer for toughening up the D, and I’d happily move Hjalm while adding a tougher FA D-man presence back there (Tab’s list of options works for me.) But that is only 1/2 the problem solved. Up front we’re soft AND small. While I’d bet that if healthy, Carcilla will be back up playing/protecting Toews (to prevent teams from beating on #19 with no consequenses), you’re still soft thru lines 2-3. Sharp, Kruger, Stalberg, Bolland, Hossa, Bicke and Frolik? Who do you fear? None of the above (from a toughness standpoint.) Bollig is a good character/L4 guy but if the NHL is going to allow the brutal physical hitting/headhunting, you need a balance of size and toughness on each line or you can only play with the other finesse teams. Adding Saad does nothing to change that fact, nor does any other rookie “almost ready.” Can Hayes and Bickel play to their size and bring toughness? Have not seen that from either guy. They have size but lack the tough-guy edge. Can they change? It’s possible and would love to see that from Hayes.. Shaw is fiesty, but c’mon. To whom do we turn in the organization? Smith? Morin? Pirri? Beach?

    IMO, we’re going to need to move several players and rebalance the equation if we want to be playing in May/June. I’d start w/dealing Hjalm and Bolland and a package w/so-called coveted prospects. I would personally include Kane in a deal that could land #1 goalie, though I doubt that will happen as i don’t see a reasonable trading partner. I would shoot for size/skill guys like Stoll and/or Pacioretty that don’t get pushed around. Believe me, the Preds and Blues are not going away. I’m hoping Stannie shocks us all and does something to change our future or we’re not going to be a threat to do anything beyond getting into the playoffs.. C’mon, Jr, STEP UP.

  25. wall says:

    Right on Negzz and Brad….

    this team needs Major Help in front of net on both ends of the ice…
    not coming from any prospects in near future…

    Love Jordan Staal, Pacioretti, and Stoll…. we would need to dump a couple of “prospects” + a Bollie or Kane type to get a couple of those names.

    But Hawks will not pass 1st round w/out adding Both – Power Forward + Physical D-man.

    I would not go for goalie… I think we have some good young talent coming up!

  26. Travis says:

    Choose either Kruger or Bolland to be the #3 center. We need one, but both are redundant. In fact, ignoring Bolly’s power play time, they’re basically identical players, from size/physicality to FO% to net crashing to defensive responsibility.

    I lean towards keeping Kruger… we haven’t seen his ceiling yet, Bolland is excellent trade bait, and Kruger’s cap hit is substantially lower. Could make cap space for a Staal/Nash/Suter-type splash.

  27. Pete says:

    IMO its a mistake to reorganize the whole team. Getting rid of Campbell, Byfuglien and Ladd and replacing them with several over the hill players who were still paid millions was a mistake.(salary cap issues I get it) At this point its hindsight and water under the bridge. We already have several top young star players with even more upside and several other stars still in their prime. We also have salary cap room. So get one really good player i.e Suter via free agency without subtracting anyone and then trust that our younger players/prospects will develop into quality NHL players. The difference between getting knocked out in the first round and winning the whole thing isn’t that great. I mean its LA and NJ in the finals. But please no more 1 year wastes like Brunette, Monty, Morrison. Add a top player via Free Agency who you have to pay top money for and then go young with the rest of the spots with the players we have in the system.

  28. Dickie Dunn says:

    I agree with Pete. The Hawks have a lot of talent – most young with upside or in prime. Suter would seem to be the ideal addition. Subtraction could be limited (Hjalmarsson? Montador if you could find a taker) – there are truly very few open spots. Good point also about LA vs NJ in the final (- anybody pick either?). It’s difficult – a lot of factors figure-in to first round elimination or winning. I don’t think it’s just about size or toughness because it’s post season play. Detroit has remained competetive for years by supplementing a good core with the “right” supporting cast – I believe Bowman is trying to do that as well.

  29. wall says:

    LA was picked by a couple of Analysts… they underachieved, fired the coach, and picked up some help…
    They are big, physical, and man handled the Hawks in the last few meetings.
    To the point… we need to get big and talented on offense as well as D!

    McNeil and Flick are big… but years away on the talent end.

  30. AJ says:

    LA was a Cup favourite before the season started then underachieved for most of the year. Sutter pushed the right buttons and they are now winning.

    A lot of good teams lost this year in the playoffs. The Hawks flat out dominated Phoenix that series but couldn’t finish when it counted and they got zero breaks on the officiating side.

    Nashville should have rocked Phoenix but couldn’t figure it out either. And they were overly aggressive at the TDL.

    I think what a lot of fans fail to understand is the difference between a 1 seed and an 8 seed is marginal. With the salary cap situation it is very difficult to build an annual contender or dynasty and the teams are more evenly matched than it would seem.

    Two fortunate bounces and the Hawks go through this year… Two or three not ridiculous calls and the same could be argued. Really not the egregiously flawed roster it is made out to be. A few tweaks (big forward who can win board battles and hold the puck, PK – Faceoff specialist, upgrade on the second pairing and a better defensive scheme) and this team as it is will have a good chance to make some waves.

  31. Jim says:

    I think we need to trade some of these smaller finesse guys like Kruger and Frolik. Replace them with some grittier types that can cause havoc in front of the goalie. We need a presence besides Toews that will take some punishment in the crease. That is one of the biggest missing ingredients for this team and its power play.

    I am a big fan of the Mayers signing! A 4th line center who wins majority of faceoffs, stivcks up for teammates and a leader in the locker room for $600K. Shit – that’s a no-brainer.

  32. William says:

    Brad Stevenson, shut the fuck up. Your pessimism is trying to say the least, you’re at it season after season, just shut the fuck up!

  33. Morrison says:

    William/Billy,

    TAKE OFF, EH.

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