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Chicago Blackhawks: Salary Cap Leaving Team In Trouble

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Apr 23, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw (65) with the puck during the third period in game six of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the St. Louis Blues at the United Center. Chicago won 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 23, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw (65) with the puck during the third period in game six of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the St. Louis Blues at the United Center. Chicago won 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
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With the Chicago Blackhawks getting honored at the NHL awards — Patrick Kane won the Hart Trophy and Artemi Panarin the Calder Trophy — we were filled with good feelings. That was before I remembered that the salary cap. Earlier this week the NHL and NHLPA agreed on the 2016-17 salary cap. The new cap ceiling is $73 million dollars with the floor being $54 million. It appears the players agreed to use their 5 percent escalator clause. Without the clause, the cap might have gone down.

While many speculated the cap might rise as high as $74.5 million, that was not the case. While the salary cap went up a modest $1.6 million, it doesn’t help the Blackhawks. Even with the trade of Bryan Bickell‘s bloated contract., the Blackhawks are still facing another salary cap crunch. The slight bump significantly hurt the Blackhawks’ chances of adding more pieces without making any more trades.

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The bigger contracts General Manager Stan Bowman issued to Kane, Jonathan Toews and Brent Seabrook were geared toward a larger salary cap in the future. It appears Bowman and his staff overestimated the future cap, and now the roster is going to suffer for that mistake.

After learning of the new cap, the Blackhawks have $6,390,706 million in cap space before hitting the ceiling. Blackhawks beat reporter Mark Lazerus estimates that Andrew Shaw‘s potential deal will eat up half of the Blackhawks’ cap space. With $3 million-plus left in cap space, the Blackhawks still have to sign six players. The money left for those players would be the league minimum.

Recently, rumors have surfaced that would directly impact that Blackhawks and hitting the salary cap ceiling. The main rumor is the Blackhawks are shopping Marcus Kruger and Shaw, per Chris Kuc. This rumor makes sense because other outlets have reported that Brian Campbell could be eyeing a return at a discounted rate.

The Blackhawks’ current salary cap situation should also kill all rumors about Evgeni Malkin coming to town. It is not going to happen.

If the Blackhawks are not able to shed any more major contracts, perhaps this opens the door for Michal Rozsival to return to the Blackhawks. Let’s hope that is not the case. It very likely opens the door for young talent to have an immediate impact on next season’s team, with Nick Schmaltz leading that charge. His recent three-year entry-level contract, which will keep keep him from going back to the University of North Dakota next season, probably assured he’d get an immediate big-league shot anyway.

Next: Kruger, Shaw Odd Trade Bait Choices

The Blackhawks are currently in a state of flux with the salary cap. It should be interesting to see how it plays out.

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