Blackhawks Salary Cap in 2011-12: Perspective 3.0


Now that Marcus Krüger has arrived in Chicago, it’s worth taking a look at the perceived “trainwreck” of a salary cap situation facing the Chicago Blackhawks next year.

Back in mid-January, we looked at some potential numbers for the Hawks next year. In late-February, we revisited the situation after Brent Seabrook got paid and updated future potential earnings for some of the restricted free agents.

Let’s take another look at the 2011-12 situation in Chicago.

As we’ve done in our first two excersizes, 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 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 salaries already in place for 2011-12, now including both Seabrook’s increased figure and, now, Krüger:

Brian Campbell
 $    7.143
Jonathan Toews  $   6.300
Patrick Kane  $   6.300
Brent Seabrook  $   5.800
Duncan Keith  $    5.539
Marian Hossa  $    5.275
Patrick Sharp  $   3.900
Niklas Hjalmarsson  $   3.500
Dave Bolland  $    3.375
Nick Leddy  $     1.117
Marcus Krüger
 $   0.900
Bryan Bickell  $   0.542
John Scott  $    0.513
Total:  $ 50.204

The total dollar amount guaranteed to these 13 players is over $50 million, which instantly creates a great deal of anxiety with some fans for no good reason at all. Consider the roster that’s in place with just these players under contract:

Sharp Toews Kane
Bickell Bolland Hossa
TBD Krüger TBD

Those are two pretty good lines up front and three centers that play a good two-way game. Now consider the defensive pairings:

Keith Seabrook
Campbell Hjalmarsson
Leddy TBD

How many teams will have a top-five group this solid coming back next year? Not many.

Now let’s project some numbers. There are a handful of restricted free agents that need to be considered, including Chris Campoli (who was acquired after our breakdown in late-February). Here are some conservative estimates for the RFAs the Hawks will bring back next year:

Troy Brouwer  $   2.500
Corey Crawford  $    2.250
Chris Campoli  $    1.500
Michael Frolik
 $    1.350
Alexander Salak
 $   1.000
Jake Dowell  $   0.750
Total:  $    9.350

That’s six more players, including two good goalies, that could/should be under contract with the organization next year for a total of $9.35M.

Not included in this group is Viktor Stalberg, who figures to be a potential cap casualty if his salary demands are too high. If he’s willing to return at a similar amount to where he’s at now ($850k), he could get a return invitation.

What would we have for a lineup if these players returned?

Sharp Toews Kane
Frolik Bolland Hossa
Brouwer Krüger Bickell
TBD Dowell TBD (Scott)

With the exception of Krüger, that group would have played at least a couple months together and that has played pretty well. Bickell and Brouwer could both be bringing 200+ hits and 20+ goals back while all three players on this top line could be 30-goal scorers.

What about the blue line and in net?

Keith Seabrook
Campbell Hjalmarsson
Leddy Campoli
Crawford Salak

That’s a really good defensive group and two really good goalies.

What would the total financial damage be?

Signed (13)  $      50.204
RFAs (6)  $        9.350
 Total (19)  $      59.554
2011-12 Cap*  $      62.000*
Cap Space  $        2.446

The Blackhawks would be looking for two forwards and perhaps a defenseman to add depth to their roster beyond the players listed here. Here are a few internal options to consider looking forward, and their respective cap numbers in the NHL:

Viktor Stalberg*- F  $   0.850
Jeremy Morin – F  $    0.917
Ben Smith – F  $    0.812
Kyle Beach – F  $     1.171
Brandon Pirri – F  $   0.900
Igor Makarov – F  $    0.552
Brandon Bollig – F  $   0.545
Dylan Olsen – D  $    0.768
Shawn Lalonde – D  $    0.773
Ryan Stanton – D  $    0.897

Note: AHL All-Star defenseman Brian Connelly is not considered in this list because he is a restricted free agent this summer.

As you can see from this breakdown, the Blackhawks have enough space to put a roster on the ice in 2011-12 that’s good enough to compete for another Stanley Cup, and they don’t have to go through another fire sale.

Will there be trades? Probably. And will some players not come back that could have? Perhaps. But the purpose of this is to bring comfort to Hawks fans that think the world will end when this season ends.

9 thoughts on “Blackhawks Salary Cap in 2011-12: Perspective 3.0

  • March 23, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    While I agree with most of what you have here, Salak is already listed on capgeek as making 1.3 mil, so I really can’t see him taking a pay cut, but I’m not really sure how entry level contracts or whatever work.

  • March 23, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Outstanding article Tab…the list of hopefuls, including Stahlberg easily constitute a strong group of 4 lines…and if we brought back a Ryan Johnson or Pisani for veteran presence, it makes training camp another dog fight just to make the team…

    This is very good news for the Hawks…and how about that defence corp…a top 6 that is as good as ANYONE in the league!

  • March 23, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    The only glitch is I think it will take 3 mil to sign Crawford. Niemi got 3.8 and Anderson stole 3.18 so you gotta believe Crawford’s agent will ask for 3.25 and settle somewhere around 2.9

  • March 23, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    Not anywhere close, Frank. Niemi got $2.000M from San Jose after one year in the NHL… he got $3.8M after doing it for a second season. Crawford A) hasn’t played that second season and B) unlike Niemi, he probably won’t have a Cup on his resume as a bargaining chip. There’s no chance on the good Lord’s earth that Crawford gets more than $2.5M after one NHL season. If his agent asks for $3.25M, our starter is Salak next year and I have zero problem w/ that.

  • March 23, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    What would Salak’s raise be based on? His performance in Sweden? He has no NHL track record, so he’ll be lucky to break even w/ the salary he had before (which was loaded w/ incentives he didn’t achieve by playing overseas).

  • March 23, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    I noticed that you did not have Tomas Kopecky, do you assume they won’t resign him? If they do, how much do you think he would make?

  • March 24, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Yes, my assumption is that Kopecky can, and will, get around $1.5-2M somewhere else. The Hawks have enough players in-house that are more affordable (and the future of the organization) that he’s expendable.

  • March 25, 2011 at 9:56 am

    That is true about Kopecky, but I would sure like to see him back…he has proven that he is not a first line forward, but he is a good player and a winner. When he was giving minutes on the 4th line with Johnson, and Sharp was healthy, we were as good as anyone in the league…

  • May 2, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Good article. This also assumes Hawk’s ownership is willing to eat Huet’s contract again this year by paying him to play overseas. I hope (and think) they will…but its no certainty. The Campbell contract continues to present a problem as the Hawks could sign a top Defender (in the $4M range) and still have enough to sign 2 more depth guys.

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