The Blackhawks Big Money Question(s)

After the 2019-20 season the Chicago Blackhawks have some significant contracts to consider.

Brendan Perlini isn’t a big money question, but he is still among the long list of unsigned restricted free agents around the NHL. That current list of restricted free agents is clearly giving agents pause when talking to teams about next year’s crop.

Among the players still waiting for a contract:

  • Patrik Laine, Winnipeg
  • Mitch Marner, Toronto
  • Mikko Rantanen, Colorado
  • Brayden Point, Tampa
  • Matthew Tkachuk, Calgary
  • Brock Boeser, Vancouver

Each of these players could be looking at the biggest pay day on their rosters; Marner certainly is looking at getting close to the top of the Maple Leafs’ payroll. And the fact that Winnipeg and Colorado are still negotiating with two of their best players means there’s drama in the Hawks’ division – which is a good thing.

The two players the Blackhawks need to take care of are different situations, but both is an intriguing case.

Alex DeBrincat showed that he had the ability to change a game with his scoring ability before his best friend, Dylan Strome, arrived via trade last season. Together they showed the ability to give the Blackhawks two legit scoring lines.


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DeBrincat scored 41 goals last year, giving him 69 in his two NHL seasons. He has posted 128 points in 164 games, which is significant for two reasons. One, that’s a terrific point-per-game rate. But more importantly, a player who fell in the draft because of the perception his size couldn’t play in the NHL hasn’t missed a regular season game in two years. He’s been able to stay on the ice – and productive – since he was draft.

Strome is a year older than DeBrincat and struggled to find a role in Arizona before he was traded for Nick Schmaltz. After arriving in Chicago he was tremendously tremendous, producing 17 goals and 34 assists in 58 games. He took pressure off Jonathan Toews at the dot and gave Chicago another good center option when a goal was needed.

Chicago should have ample cap space to pay both of their young forwards, but another position lacks certainty that will impact decisions made by Stan Bowman.

Corey Crawford and Robin Lehner will combine to hit the cap for $11M in the coming season. Both is an unrestricted free agent in one year, though.

Lehner, 28, is coming off a remarkable season and he gives the Blackhawks confidence in net no matter which player is between the pipes this season.

Crawford, 34, has dealt with concussion issues over the past two years that have significantly impact the Hawks’ playoff hopes. Chicago’s lack of depth in net has been an issue for years, and the addition of Lehner helps answer those questions heading into 2019-20. Whether or not this is the final season of Crawford’s career is up to him, but Chicago is in a better place now than they have been in some time.

Should Lehner establish himself as a long-term answer for the Blackhawks, he’ll need to get another deal next summer. Collin Delia is signed for three years at $1M, so he could be an option as a backup in 12 months when we discuss the ’20-21 season. But he was not an answer when the Blackhawks needed a stopper last year; neither was Cam Ward (who recently retired).

As teams all over the NHL try to get their full rosters set for training camp, the Blackhawks – and the agents of their two young forwards – will be paying attention. How much they’re set to make on their next contracts will play a big role in Chicago’s attempt to return to prominence for the coming decade.

29 thoughts on “The Blackhawks Big Money Question(s)

  • September 6, 2019 at 8:25 am

    Not even trying to get my head around next year! Yes, what this year’s RFA’s do is absolutely relevant- but HAWKS having a great season and making the playoffs is the only thing on my radar!

  • September 6, 2019 at 9:02 am

    Debrincat for sure and Strome, Gus and Lehner are big concerns right now. What will Debrincat and Lehner take to resign? Could Dach and Boqvist make moving 9n from Gus and Strome a real possibility. Especially at fwd if players like Kubalik and Nylander are considered strong top 6 candidates going into next season.

    Signing 3 of them would be north of a 20m caphit combined if one is named Debrincat quite likely, assuming they play at level as hoped this season.

    Crawford coming back may impact hiw much Lehner is offered, but have to think Lehner is the future and be top priority to resign.

    Gus seems most likely to not be back. Likely some veteran caphits be moved before next season, so who that is will tell alot about who can be resigned too.

  • September 6, 2019 at 9:16 am

    Assuming Strome can show that last year was no fluke I expect him to be back with the Hawks – good young centres don’t fall off trees

    Unless Boquist is a bust (which I don’t see happening) I don’t think they can afford Gus next year so the best case scenario IMO is that Boq shows his abilities in a call up giving the Hawks the confidence to move on from Gus at the TDL

    Boq then takes over from Gus in the line up and on the PP and the Hawks don’t miss a beat making the playoffs plus getting a good return for Gus in a trade

    The major obstacle to this ideal scenario I think is not Boquist being up to the task but rather Gus not having anywhere close to the year he had last year (teams will figure him out plus I believe he had a career year) and therefore not be nearly as valuable an asset at the TDL

  • September 6, 2019 at 9:35 am

    @wraparound I agree. hawks missed the window to sell high on Gus. As much as I like the guy, he’s a 3rd pairing with PP upside at best.

  • September 6, 2019 at 9:37 am

    5 year deals for both at a cheaper AAV because you aren’t buying UFA years. Probably around 16-17 million to get both signed.

    Seems like the hold up for these other RFA’s is term. With teams being reluctant to ‘walk’ players to UFA. I see no issue doing it. Have confidence they will want to remain Blackhawks and prepare yourself to play them again in 5 years. The old core will be gone (Toews and Kane on new legacy contracts maybe) so you restructure around these guys.

  • September 6, 2019 at 9:56 am

    At currently 61.9m for 7fwds and 6d, n0 goalies allotted for next season. If say Debrincat and Strome or Lehner pick one, come in around 15m and Delia is backup for 1m that is 78 tp 79m range, if Boqvost takes d spot from Gus say, just slightly under 80m capphit. Still need to sign either Strome or Lehner, plus 4 to 6 fwds depending. With cap ceiling not guaranteed to be north of 84m, still alot of work to be done. With players like Kubalik, Cagguila rfas too.

  • September 6, 2019 at 10:05 am

    Wrap agree good young centers don’t grow on trees but they are drafted 3rd overall to my point could make Strome expendable. Same can be said offensive talents from the blueline like Gus don’t grow on trees but can be drafted 8th overall and make him expendable too.

  • September 6, 2019 at 11:17 am

    Strome by no means took the pressure off Toews at the dot. Defensively he was also very bad, despite his size. If he doesn’t show improvement in those areas, he won’t be expensive to resign.

    Debrincat and Lehner are the ones that should be resigned no matter what. Strome is a maybe.

  • September 6, 2019 at 12:51 pm

    Prediction….DeBrincat will score 50 goals this season. Lock him in NOW.
    Strome, wait until we find out if last season was a fluke
    Lehner, if he can be the #1 goalie next season give him the contract of a #1 goalie Next season. See if Crawford will do a Cam Ward and sign a 2 year deal !2-$3 mil to retire in Chicago.
    Trade Gustafson before the season. Sell high. He can score, yes. But as a defenseman he’s a turnover machine and can’t win a board battle

  • September 6, 2019 at 1:31 pm

    Capfriendly sez Perlini signed for $874,000 one year?

  • September 6, 2019 at 1:59 pm

    Yess Perlini …signed…thats really good

  • September 6, 2019 at 2:03 pm

    One year, arbitration next year. Good deal, if he produces.

  • September 6, 2019 at 2:26 pm

    Holy mackerel – Perlini signed for $875K! Outstanding! That sure clears up the cap situation. Now just ship one of Dahlstrom or Koekkoek down or out and promote Kubalik and one or two more forwards and there’s your roster with around $1M in cap space for in-season moves.

  • September 6, 2019 at 2:46 pm

    One of the beauties of signing Lehner is he is now the clear heir apparent to Crawford. They can ride this tandem all season, perhaps even into the playoffs then reward Lehner and let Crawford see if anybody will give him starter money elsewhere with his age and concussion history.

    I asked somebody in the know recently about Gus’s future, the answer I received was – there are other guys we need to sign ( obviously meaning d-Cat and Strome).

    On Strome, give this kid full marks for staying in Chicago this summer and training with Patrick Kane and others. He wants to get even better. That’s great to see. Adding Dach to the Center equation is a recipe for winning. Strength up the middle.

    To me though, the trick will be whether we move Gus near the deadline and get something or stick with him all the way through the season and ride him as far as we can, especially if the Hawks are playoff bound.

  • September 6, 2019 at 3:01 pm

    Craig….i prefer the second option and go with him in the playoff after let see what hapend …no rush ..iff he continue to improve on defense and stay a 50 pts or more …we will have a choice to make ..keep him or look at the offer from other teams .

  • September 6, 2019 at 3:20 pm

    Craig how Boqvist adapts to Nhl likely has a big impact on when Gus is shopped. If he looks like a top 4 guy coming out of camp, then expect it sooner than later.

  • September 6, 2019 at 3:54 pm

    20 19 88
    12 17 11
    91 77 65
    15 22 64
    2 5
    56 7
    6 68

  • September 6, 2019 at 3:58 pm

    Is De Bob Lee Swagger Cat that short or is Stromer huge 2nd line center for yr to come.

  • September 6, 2019 at 4:04 pm

    Wrap, thats the thing 56 and others prob do not get as many points, though I think team will get similiar GF and Way better GA. Now that we have 6 NHL Defensemen and 2 top 5-10 league goalies. For 56 hes good at what hes good at though were not keeping him at 5 or 6 so unless he does one of those 4m Defensemen caphits like Maatta and Haan are, then nah.

    Would have to think 12 17 44 40 are future and 6 56 50 are not.

    Interesting though during the 2013 season everyone thought it would Stals that stays out of 25 and 29. We know what happened in the playoffs every yr between those two guys.

  • September 6, 2019 at 4:08 pm

    BODHISATTVA, good post man. Thats what I see to. 19 88 will be on caphits, like 50 will be if he stays, and it will come around. 7 caphit wont be here and things are coming around. For the good of the team, its all coming around.

  • September 6, 2019 at 4:09 pm

    What happens if Gus has good season, improves his def3nse and Boqvist has a so so year between Rfd and Chicago. How do they proceed then.

  • September 6, 2019 at 4:11 pm

    SVEN, you and Jordy said it first. 17 is good though he needs to show more and then get a higher caphit. He really should be doing a bridge contract. 12 is the better surfer out of the gates and should get the 19 88 treatment right from elc. Do not think 17 will have any problem with this. As good of friends as these guys are they are Not 19 88 pair, caphit contract wise.

  • September 6, 2019 at 4:26 pm

    What do you think bridge will be caphit wise, alot of times players take longer term for security and lower aav to get it.

  • September 6, 2019 at 4:51 pm

    Roman, those are good deep lines. With 11 at fair caphit hes ready to show it.
    Craig, thanks brother for the inside Blackhawks info we get here.
    Ian, not sure but not as high as 5 or 6, same with 56 if he stays. Not sure if he would do 4m at 2yrs, though something that would would work team wise he would be fine with and so on. You know what I mean.

    For a number, this is general not for these guys, if 12 got 8 then a bridge for him 5-6 and if 17 got 6 then a bridge could be 3-4.5. Tuff to gauge enough less so its not your 6m right after elc in 2010 kind of thing though ebough caphit wise so hes happy and keeps coming hard.

    Really like what Craig said about 17 and others thatare doing that same thing. Stromer knows this is his best friend from juniors and such and a Blackhawks for many yrs to come, that the Blackhawks are back starting this yr (since roster adjustments around game 30) full roster wise, the dynasty team of this 20 yr section of NHL hockey, his chance to be the player who he really is. To be able to with your good friend and this organization everything is there to do it.

    After two yrs of transition. Now lets play hockey.

  • September 6, 2019 at 4:59 pm

    Holy shitt when did we get that good of a 4th line again and have the young with high upside for 3rd line like that, with more coming and for yrs.

    Like Kaner do another one or two.

  • September 6, 2019 at 4:59 pm

    Sort of right there for both 12 and 17 to just do the yrs to ufa yr.

  • September 6, 2019 at 9:47 pm

    Mo what the unsigned fas sign for will have an impact. Debrincat should be extended before before next summer. Could easily see him in 9m range.

    Marner wants a 13m for a 2 or 3 yr bridge deal. Karlsson for VGK took below market 5.9m aav hit to get 8yrs and stay there, so hard to say if Strome wants to stay long term may get him cheaper than he would on a bridge.

    Strome have to wait and see i think, don’t want to end up with albatross by jumping early, even though it may end up costing if he has a big year.

    Gus an ufa, doubt he signs for less than 4 years unless he regresses this season. Ditto for Lehner on that one after his one year deal this year.

    If owners still playing hardall rfas, don’t rule out holdout possibility either, like we are seeing now and not much in trade interest for them.

    Who stays and who goes will be interesting

  • September 6, 2019 at 10:07 pm

    For people wanting to sell high on Gus and saying Bowman waited to long. What if you did move or you do move Gus right away and Boqvist struggles or his past concussion issues come back again and neither is available. Maybe the insurance policy route pays off yet. With needs in goal for the future and inability to likely keep all of Lehner, Gus and Strome, Dach pick may turn out to be an insurance policy too.

  • September 10, 2019 at 9:43 am

    To say the Hawks’ outlook in goal looks good could be a total understatement. If Crawford can stay healthy and if Leonard can accept Chicago’s style (meaning he can handle the plethora of pucks that will probably come his way) then the Hawks will have the best tandem in many many years.

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