TSN’s Bob McKenzie tweeted late Sunday night that he had heard the NHL will raise the salary cap to $64M for the 2011-12 season.
This is outstanding news for the Blackhawks, and now we can look to the summer with a little more certainty. Here’s what the Hawks salary cap situation looks like now.
If we assume only the players that were NHL roster regulars in 2010-11, and include only rookie netminder Alexander Salak in the Hawks’ initial salary cap projection, here is what we’re looking at:
|Jonathan Toews||$ 6,300,000|
|Patrick Kane||$ 6,300,000|
|Marian Hossa||$ 5,275,000|
|Patrick Sharp||$ 3,900,000|
|Dave Bolland||$ 3,375,000|
|Bryan Bickell||$ 541,667|
|Brian Campbell||$ 7,142,875|
|Brent Seabrook||$ 5,800,000|
|Duncan Keith||$ 5,538,462|
|Niklas Hjalmarsson||$ 3,500,000|
|Nick Leddy||$ 1,116,666|
|John Scott||$ 512,500|
|Corey Crawford||$ 2,666,667|
|Alexander Salak||$ 612,500|
As you can see, the Blackhawks have 14 players signed for next year on this list. If John Scott is bumped to the 21st man on the roster (where he belongs – at best), the Hawks need to come up with seven players (one defenseman, six forwards) inside that available dollar amount.
What we haven’t included is some of the young names that could, and likely will, factor into next year’s team that are currently under contract with Chicago. These three forwards are, in the eyes of many, the most likely candidates to break camp in Chicago next year with a role somewhere on the Blackhawks:
|Ben Smith||$ 812,500|
|Marcus Kruger||$ 900,000|
|Jeremy Morin||$ 886,667|
If we add these three forwards to the mix, the Blackhawks are suddenly looking at needs of just one defenseman and three forwards at an average of over $2.2M per player. Suddenly, the Blackhawks have financial flexibility.
Now take a step back and consider some of the restricted free agents on the Blackhawks roster. Michael Frolik, Troy Brouwer and Chris Campoli are the most prominent free agents still waiting for new paper. Also potentially coming back are Viktor Stalberg and AHL defenseman Brian Connelly.
What all five of these restricted free agents share in common is their financial value: none of them should make more than $2M next year. Indeed, even if Brouwer and Frolik push the $2M number on their next deals, the Hawks would still have plenty of cap space to address adding size up front in a thin free agent class.
The Blackhawks could also look to be more aggressive in the trade market during the 2011 NHL Draft as well.
Also, we haven’t considered the potential of a young defenseman stepping up and winning a roster job. Ryan Stanton and Shawn Lalonde both have cap number under $1M, and could be a factor in 2011-12 at the United Center. If Campoli doesn’t return, it’s likely that one of these two would step into his role in the NHL.
We’re just 12 months from the Blackhawks purging almost half their roster in a salary dump that no champion had ever seen. But now, with a stocked minor league system and the core locked-up long-term (with, of course, the exception of Patrick Sharp), the Hawks are able to write checks this summer that they couldn’t in the recent past.
The bottom line is simple: a $64M salary cap gives the Chicago Blackhawks a lot of options moving forward.