For the first time in a long time, the Chicago Blackhawks have cap space flexibility - something they haven't had in years.
“You’re right, we’re not in a difficult cap position like we have been in some previous years. From that perspective, it’s looking better for the potential to make some moves,” GM Stan Bowman explained to Satchel Price of the Chicago Sun Times on Monday. “I think we’re going to examine everything. We’re going to look long and hard at ways to improve our team through personnel.”
According to the information provided by Cap Friendly, the Blackhawks currently have $68.72 million committed to eight forwards, seven defensemen and two goalies for next season, including Marian Hossa who is on the long-term injury reserve, for the 2018-19 season, to which you must add a salary cap overage of $1.233 million as a result of the team’s performance bonuses from this season. The salary cap is expected to rise as high as $80 million next season, which gives Chicago more breathing room than we’ve seen in past seasons.
There are however some important priorities, like retaining young players like Alex DeBrincat and Nick Schmaltz. After that, Bowman will need to look at potential trades, and while some pundits explore the possibility of moving captain Jonathan Toews or veteran defenseman Brent Seabrook, Price believes there is one main trade bait available by the Hawks:
"The main name to watch will be center Artem Anisimov, whose no-movement clause turns into a partial no-trade clause on July 1. He’ll have to submit a list of 10 trades he can block trades to on the first day of the new league year, and at that point, the Blackhawks will have a much easier time fielding offers for him.
"Shedding Anisimov’s $4.55 million cap hit would be a big way to add further flexibility, as would a potential trade of what’s left of Hossa’s contract."
With Anisimov’s no-movement clause becomes a partial no-trade July 1, and it’s possible the Hawks will trade him. The Blackhawks could attempt to shed his $4.55 million cap hit, perhaps to pursue another forward, defenseman or backup goaltender via free agency.
“Knowing that’s on the horizon, you have to be prudent with what you do with your money this summer,” Bowman said.” It might be looking at some shorter-term contracts for some free agents.”
The Hawks have a lot of thinking to do as many areas of their game needs improvement. Maybe moving some money around would be the perfect solution to make the best adjustments possible for next season in order to get them back to being a strong Cup contender.