Chicago Blackhawks Salary Cap and Free Agency Update

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:

player  cap 
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
Total  $     52,581,337
Available  $     11,418,663

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
Total  $       2,599,167
Available  $       8,819,496

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.

10 thoughts on “Chicago Blackhawks Salary Cap and Free Agency Update

  • June 20, 2011 at 11:36 am

    you cant forget about the free agents that they have right now too. john scott will likely not be on the team, and chris campoli, troy brouwer, michael frolik, viktor stalberg, and possibly tomas kopecky, jake dowell, ryan johnson, and jordan hendry. im hearing about a bunch of people saying trade brouwer and kopecky. kopecky, MAYBE. brouwer, NO. brouwer is getting better, and the blackhawks need him. in fact, i remember him being one of the physical ones that bickell and dowell were supposed to be. the real trade the hawks need to try and make, is brian campbell. trade him, and you have almost $19 million to factor out. two or three defensemen(including restricted fa in all of this) a few forwards, and the hawks are good.if they do choose not to resign kopecky, the free agent market should have a couple good forwards to snag, unless they bring morin or beach up. think i dont know what im talking about? im not an idiot. im speaking the truth, and possibly what stan bowman is thinking right now.

  • June 20, 2011 at 11:37 am

    i know scott isnt a freeagent, that was a mix-up, sorry

  • June 20, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    Nice! I would like to see Frolik, Campoli and Stalberg back for sure. I am up in the air on Brouwer. Bringing in a heavy hitter would be nice. Could then lose Scott and bring up on of the young defensemen. No mention of Ryan Johnson. I thought he was OK. Great on faceoffs and got better as he became more comfortable with the team.

  • June 20, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Thank you!

  • June 20, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    As usual, love the insight. Thanks for breaking down the numbers.

  • June 20, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    Tab: I’m excited that the Hawks will have more room, but so will everybody else. Sure it means we can sign more of our existing talent, but it doesn’t immediately translate to addressing some of the essential changes needed to the roster.

    This year the West was Won with size. The Canucks wore down our blue line by running at them with their fowards. And then, the Cup was won with size and more stamina…because the route to the finals was tougher through the West…because the West was Won with…the one thing the Hawks are lacking…you guessed it – size.

    I have a different take on the Hawks’ immediate path. That path is broken down into two aspects; under the Hawks’ immediate control and the other – trading for a buyout candidate, which will be far less under their control.

    First the under their control part – is getting bigger and better in the middle through signing Free Agent Brooks Laich and letting him center the 2nd or 3rd line. At 28, and 6’2”, 200 lbs. Laich is a proven commodity. He’s solid in front of the net, responsible in the defensive zone (+14 last year) and his 48 points last year were off from the two 50 plus seasons before that – and would have been 5th for the Hawks.

    As an immediate result it means moving our young forward talent up is less of a necessity (in terms of talent at least), and the Hawks will project to be solid on the dot for several years to come – barring injury of course.

    The next step is less under their control, but starts with them controlling the first step. That means putting Brian Campbell on waivers and see who nibbles. One possibility might be the Predators who are considering buying our J.P. Dumont who was a healthy scratch for the Preds as the season wound down. Dumont is a $4 Million salary hit – for next year and then he’s an UFA. The Preds are going to pay Weber, but Campbell is a serious upgrade over Shane Obrien, and Francis Bouillon who are UFAs this year and next year respectively.

    If Stan can make that trade the savings on Campbell’s contract pays for the vast majority Laich’s contract. They get out of four years of Campbell’s contract which is $7,142,875 of “found money” once Dumont’s contract runs out. They’re still going to have to say goodbye to Kopecky, Pisani and Ryan Johnson. I’d add the departure of Frolik as well, because it’s time to bring up Kyle Beach. We need his size.

    Patrick Sharp Jonathan Toews Patrick Kane
    Troy Brouwer Brooks Laich Marian Hossa
    Kyle Beach David Bolland J.P. Dumont
    Viktor Stalberg Marcus Kruger Bryan Bickell

    Duncan Keith Nick Leddy
    Niklas Hjalmarsson Chris Campoli
    Brent Seabrook Jordan Hendry

  • June 20, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    “because it’s time to bring up Kyle Beach. We need his size.”

    Beach was benched several times last year. Add that to his penalty and defensive issues, and I don’t think the Hawks need him at all at this point. Perhaps in a year or two he will develop into something resembling an NHL player.

    Kruger didn’t look like he belonged either. Hopefully, he’ll agree to come to the States and play at least a year in Rockford.

    Morin’s the one guy I thought may have been ready, but he missed so much developmental time with injuries. My guess is he plays a couple months in the AHL prior to any call-up.

  • June 21, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Cam: Beach is they type of hard-nosed, check you just as soon as look at you player the Hawks were missing last year. Do I think he’s responsible defensively…probably not, but I think he is an energy guy we can use to wear down the other team’s blue line and defend a teammate.

    In fact, much of his irresponsibility is related to the fact that he’s the type of young player who plays to the mob as well as his team. He has enough skill to realize his dream to play in the NHL. Refocusing his talents to play for his team and Not to the Mob – will detrermine the level of success in the NHL. Playing with the likes of Towes, Seabrook, Keith, Seabrook etc. will translate to a more valuable learning curve to realize that goal than playing in Rockford.

    Plus – we need the size :)

  • June 21, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    100% agree with Navylifer3 about Brooks Laich. Hawks should try to go after this guy, especially if the cap goes to $64M. If there is any way to trade Campbell they should do it and try to re-sign Wisniewski. This guys is coming off of a season of 51pts. He’s more physical, good puck mover and he’s better on the power play. He earned $3.25M last season and would probably be looking for a raise but not too much. There are also a few other possible forwards with veteran experience to be signed with small salaries such as Brendan Morrison and Eric Belanger. Both players in the $700,000 range.

    Here’s what I think could be good.

    Sharp Toews Kane
    Smith Bolland Hossa
    Brower Laich Frolik
    Bickell Kopecky Morin

    Wisniewski Hjalmarsson
    Keith Seabrook
    Leddy Campoli


  • June 25, 2011 at 5:47 am

    Well, we disagree because I don’t believe Beach is ready either mentally or hockey-wise. The Hawks were bad enough on the PK last year; they don’t need more opportunities to test themselves.

    To me, Morin is far more advanced but lost ice time with the injuries. Still, a good showing in camp might get him a spot depending on what the Hawks do with their newfound cap space.

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