Blackhawks Roster: Projecting 2011-12, And It Looks Good

Photo from HockeyBroad

Now that the Blackhawks’ season has come to a close, the questions – and blaming – have started as fans look towards next year.

First of all, it’s going to be OK in Chicago. They have plenty of talent on the roster to remain a championship-contending team.

Secondly, they have plenty of cap space to make a difference. Let’s take a look.

As we’ve done in three previous roster evaluations, we need to lay a foundation that includes at least one assumption regarding the NHL’s salary cap.

The current salary cap in the NHL is $59.4M, and will go up. Coming off a great business year, and adding the new television deal money to the mix, expecations are that the cap could go up by as much as $4M next year. To be safe, we’ll use a cap of $62M for next season, a fairly conservative increase of $2.6M.

Beyond that assumption, we’ll also work within the context of all players under contract returning; we cannot assume trades will take place, no matter how likely (or wanted) they might be.

Here are the players under contract next year, and their cost:

Toews, J $6,300,000
Kane, P  $    6,300,000
Hossa, M  $    5,275,000
Sharp, P  $    3,900,000
Bolland, D  $    3,375,000
Bickell, B  $        541,667
Krüger, M  $        900,000
Smith, B  $        812,500
Scott, J  $        512,500
Keith, D  $    5,538,462
Seabrook, B  $    5,800,000
Hjalmarsson, N  $    3,500,000
Campbell, B  $    7,142,875
Leddy, N  $    1,116,666
TOTAL  $  51,014,670

I’ve included three “kids” in this projection. From what we saw late in the season and playoffs, there is no question that Nick Leddy and Ben Smith have a spot on next year’s roster. I have also included Marcus Krüger in next year’s roster because, based on what he showed in the postseason and the words of Stan Bowman, he has the goods to be in the NHL next year.

What this $51M gives you is three centers (not including Patrick Sharp), six wings (including, with reservation, John Scott), and five defensemen. Using our baseline assumption of $62M, there is roughly $11M left to add two goalies, three or four forwards and at least one more defenseman.

Is that a problem? I don’t think so.

Here are the restricted free agents on the roster this summer:

  • Corey Crawford
  • Troy Brouwer
  • Michael Frolik
  • Viktor Stalberg
  • Chris Campoli
  • Alexander Salak*
  • Jake Dowell

Obviously, some of these player should be back next year. Crawford absolutely earned a raise, and Frolik showed in the playoffs that he’s the kind of player Chicago needs. Salak will likely receive a deal from the team to be the back-up goalie after spending this year in Sweden.

However, there are questions with other players. The Blackhawks need size up front, but will they give Brouwer or Stalberg an extension? Considering some of the more affordable, younger players coming up through the organization, could they be trade bait? Brouwer has a strong case to stay after ranking fifth in the league in hits in 2010-11, but his asking price will determine the logo on his sweater next year.

Campoli is an intriguing player to consider moving forward. He looked pretty good at the end of the regular season, but had a mediocre postseason. Given his production, if he would come back at the same cap number as 2010-11, he might be back. But, with the organizational depth in kids like Shawn Lalonde and Dylan Olsen coming along, it’s hard to see Campoli getting more than a one-year offer.

Considering the end of the season and ice time, it feels safe to assume Dowell will not be invited back; he was a healthy scratch in favor of rookies in the postseason.

Let’s put a few dollar amounts on the restricted free agents that could/should be back next year:

Brouwer,T $ 2,250,000
Crawford, C  $  2,500,000
Frolik, M  $  1,500,000
Campoli, C  $  1,500,000
Salak, A  $  1,250,000
TOTAL  $  9,000,000

These numbers reflect substantial raises for Brouwer and Crawford, with a moderate increase for Frolik and Campoli. Salak, who was overseas, really can’t expect to see a major raise without NHL experience on his resume.

Here is the roster we’ve signed to this point:

  • Sharp-Toews-Kane
  • Brouwer-Bolland-Hossa
  • Bickell-Krüger-Frolik
  • Smith-_____-______ (Scott)
  • Keith-Seabrook
  • Campbell-Hjalmarsson
  • Leddy-Campoli
  • Crawford/Salak

That’s a good, fairly full roster.

Using our conservative cap number still, we need a center and another wing and have roughly $2M to spend. But we haven’t considered any of the youngsters that are under contract that could be in the mix to make their NHL debut up front next year. Here are a few options that could factor into the roster next year:

Morin, J  $  916,666
Beach, K  $  1,170,833
Pirri, B  $     900,000
Paradis, P  $     900,000
Hayes, J  $     654,167
Makarov, I  $     552,500

There is also a possibility that the Hawks choose to bring back someone like Dowell ($525k) or Ryan Johnson ($500k) for around the same cap number as last year. We also haven’t considered anything impacting the NHL roster coming back in a trade of a restricted free agent such as Stalberg.

As you can see, there is plenty of talent in the organization to fill gaps and the team has a lot to work with moving forward. What is key for the Blackhawks next year is health and chemistry, two things they lacked last year. Unfortunately, one other thing they lacked last year was a long summer to get healthy, which they’ll be afforded this year.

If we compare next year’s potential roster to the 2010-11 edition, there is plenty of cause for optimism.

Marcus Krüger is an upgrade on Jake Dowell as a third or fourth center.

Ben Smith is an upgrade on Fernando Pisani in every way.

Nick Leddy is an upgrade on Nick Boynton and Jordan Hendry.

Michael Frolik is an upgrade on Jack Skille.

There is plenty of reason for Blackhawks fans to have confidence that we won’t have to wait 49 more years for another parade.

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18 Responses to Blackhawks Roster: Projecting 2011-12, And It Looks Good

  1. Kevin says:

    It is nice to see Kopecky not in the mix. Realistically, I can see John Scott getting buried, Johnson probably not being resigned and Hjalmarsson getting traded for some second round pick and an average defender.

    I’d rather see the boys from Rockford brought up but if we make the right trades, I’m interested. Either way, Chicago is going to be dangerous next year and it is exciting to see Morin and Smith making an impact in the lineup full time. Losing at the hands of Vancouver is probably the most meaningful team to lose to- can’t say it will be the spark for Kane, but you know Toews is already planning for October. I expect them to come out next season with some fire.

  2. jeff says:

    Yes, things are looking good for next year. You’re right, we had no identity for most of this year. A lot of pieces but no engine. We had that last year. We had an identity. Guys knew their roles. We were deep last year.
    IMO, our biggest voids are a top line winger and a second/third line center. Unload Hammer if you have to. 3.5m for a defensive defensemen is spendy. Umm, Tallon, can we have Reasoner back? Sharp on the top line is nice but what we saw last year and what we saw in the post season is that 3 scoring lines is huge. Leave Sharp on the second line with Hossa. What a weight Stalberg was.
    Overall, next year looks promising. But then after that things get tight, how much is Sharpie gonna cost? And where is he most effective, center or forward?

  3. HockeyBroad says:

    Morin’s a possibility but will depend on his return from post-concussion. He took it in January, still isn’t playing. His being called up as a Black Ace vs. Beach, who’s healthy and who had a very good end-of-season run with Rockford, should speak volumes about Beach’s future with the team.

    Jimmy Hayes is so good that I’d be much more surprised if he doesn’t make it to the team next year. Kid is made in the Ladd mold: big, brawny, smart, hits, digs in corners, gets his butt to the net – LOVED what I saw from him in those last two Rockford games this season. Can’t wait.

    I also really, really, REALLY hope they bring Ryan Johnson back. He’s been a workhouse and one of the most consistent players on the team, even with just half a season.

    Brouwer’s inconsistency could hurt his possibility of coming back next year. He’s had a year like Buff used to have: when he shows up, he’s ‘wow’ and noticeable; when he doesn’t, he’s… ugh.

  4. ron komp says:

    basically you’ve resigned the same team that had to be handed the last spot in the playoffs they didn’t earn it. it seems to me we need more of an overhaul of the roster than what you propose. i’d start with a physical defenseman .

  5. puttingonthefoil says:

    Some good thoughts but I’d like to take it a step further. Who, on this roster is overpaid? Personally, I’m a Hammer fan- the guy shows up to play come playoff time. I go back and forth on Campbell does he justify his salary? The experience that Leddy got this year is going to payoff big next year -he at times, looked like a top four to me .. If we could deal Campbell that would open up a world of possibilities. Stahlberg- ba by..

  6. HawkHead says:

    1st time commenting, love the insight of the articles here.

    The previous comments make some good points but I think what we missed in the playoffs were some high energy guys that can hit and skate. I would love to see them go after Asham who will be an UFA who made $700k in 2010-11. I think that we could also sign Eager who also will be an UFA who made $965k in 2010-11. But I definitely think we need two of that type of player.

  7. Jon says:

    Concerning Kruger, I agree that he is an upgrade over Dowell on the bottom lines. Doesn’t Hawks management have loftier aspirations for him, however?

    Kruger is a player who has been mentioned as a guy who could take over on the second line, a role for which he is not yet ready, IMO. I like his moxie and vision, but he needs to get stronger to play big minutes in the NHL.

    Wouldn’t he be better served skating top line minutes in Rockford for at least a couple of months?

  8. Jim says:

    The Hawks would of course love to unload Campbell’s contract. The problem is nobody is dumb enough to pay +$7mil for him. The Hawks are stuck with him. The Hawks have too many small puck moving D-Men. Seabrook is the only stay at home D-Man. Hjalmarsson isn’t fast enough to be a puck mover, and he doesn’t hit hard enough for a stay at home D-Man the Hawks need. He is paid too much for his production. I think Dylan Olsen might be a good Stay at Home D-Man that can hit, but he seems to be a year out. The Hawks need to trade at least Hammer for another Seabrook-type D-Man. They could probably stand to trade one of the minor league puck movers to sweeten the deal. The Hawks can’t go with the same six Defense you projected. The Defense was the weak part this year. Something has to change in the back.

  9. Patrick says:

    What do you think of adding someone like a Ryan Jones from EDM. He is tough kid who will knock around a few people, but he can also score. I think he would be an upgrade if Kopecky leaves.

  10. Thomas says:

    What about Tomas Kopecky? I would imagine as long as Hossa is with the Blackhawks, so will Kopecky. He is experienced and reasonably inexpensive.

  11. Somehow or other the Hawks have to get 1-2 skilled guys who can both project and deliver a physical presence on a game in-game out basis. I’m not advocating over-the-edge rough stuff goonery but guys with some grit…maybe proverbial muckers & grinders who have shown consistent skill enough to play both ends and are comfortable going to the net regularly. I also think that they should re-sign Kopecky (even in view of his +/-) as a 3rd-4th liner as he’s done a decent job overall filling various roles he wasn’t originally expected to play, he’s got some grit, and he adds depth in a number of areas. Bickell has to get tougher; he’s too soft for a guy his size. I like Brower allot but he disappears for too long stretches…Kane has to get tougher and stronger as attacking play on him is too successful; spend some time this summer in the weight room rather than the clubs. The club needs some tweaking, size, R&R, and an attitude again.

  12. sam david says:

    bAD LOSS TO THE NUCKS, it still stings,sedins comments make it worse! Ok next leddy smith krugger got jobs, i like these kids, smith makes me want to trade kane to LA for kyle Clifford, seen kyle in a game against the nucks, begging for a fight. sharp move him as well, 3.9 salary is movable. 2012 -13 I SEE A CUP ,

  13. sam david says:

    i like campoli leddy smith morin krugger, smart and skilled, not tough, so we need a few who can play playoff hockey crash and hit. TRADES- try to move kane or sharp and they must take campbell? the only way LA kings RANGERS NEED GOALS , SO if i were stan i would think about a move.

  14. Nathan says:

    While we can’t reasonably predict UFA signings or trades, I expect Bowman to do something at least mildly creative to change this team for next season. What I do not expect is another massive influx of new faces – it’s important for this team to grow together like the Championship team did for two years before winning the cup.

    Prediction: look for one ‘big’ trade (read: Brouwer+ for top 6 depth) and potentially one bottom six UFA signing with the rest of the roster being filled out by the familiar young faces.

  15. Nathan says:

    I can’t stop day dreaming about landing Jordan Staal… can anyone kill this dream for me? The Penguins need wingers, and cap space, and have 2 GREAT centers already. We have winger depth and how good could Staal look beside Hossa?

    Brouwer+Stalberg+Beach = Staal?

    I’m looking for opinions.

  16. Brad Stevenson says:

    Great articles Tab…across the board…thank you for your efforts all through the season.

    Adding Ryan Johnson and Kopecky to the 4th line gives you a strong, filled out roster, but it still doesn’t address the leadership/toughness issue that plagued the Hawks right through to game 7 versus Vancouver in the playoffs. So, to that end I think one or two trades/deals will happen to mature the roster…

    1) Brouwer…he had a good season taking the body, but not much else…his scoring was a disappointment, his physical play in sticking up for his teammates or simply mixing it up to try and give his team a spark was non existent, and his playmaking was as poor as I have seen it…I think moving Brouwer either by trading or releasing and signing a FA would be a positive move for the Hawks…someone like Andrew Ladd that can add 15-20 goals (which Brouwer did) but is a LEADER and plays a TOUGH brand of physical hockey…

    2) Campbell/Hammer/Campoli…I have nothing personal against any of them, but they are too much alike…there simply isn’t enough toughness on this team, replacing one of them with a stay at home Defenseman, who is a LEADER and plays a TOUGH brand of physical hockey will make this team better…

    I agree that we are close, the Leadership and Toughness qualities must be addressed and likely they will…but we also need one more thing…

    We need ONE MORE player who can consistently score…25+ goals and 65+ points…no whether this will be Frolik, or Bickell, or Ben Smith, or Kruger, or most likely Dave Bolland…we have to have someone step up their offensive game to take us back to a Championship level, and we don’t have the $$$ to find this player though FA…if this can happen internally, and a healthy Dave Bolland for 82 games should be that player (or Frolik), then I do believe that we will return to the top 4…but these 3 things must happen first, or we will be relying TOO MUCH on Jonathon Toews to carry the load on so many fronts, and he just can’t be the only guy year after year after year…

    Once again, great job Tab and thanks!!!

  17. Bruce says:

    Let Campoli walk and try to trade Hammer; then? Bring back Wisniewski. He’s a UFA who plays with an edge.

  18. Brad Stevenson says:

    I think Erik Cole Tab is that replacement for Brouwer…that fits within the cap…

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