Chicago Blackhawks Are In Hockey Purgatory
By Sean Fitzgerald
After their fourth straight loss, the Blackhawks find themselves in Hockey Purgatory. I say Purgatory because the Blackhawks still have hope for a better future but they are also stuck where they are for the present. The team is not going to get considerably better next season because they cannot move any of their significant big money assets. Stan Bowman is hamstrung by the no-movement clauses in Brent Seabrook, Jonathan Toews, and Duncan Keith‘s contract. If anyone is dreaming that someone will want Seabrooks contract, I suggest you keep on dreaming.
Without moving one of those players, the Hawks are going to be in a similar spot to where they are this season. They will have some cap flexibility because of Marian Hossa on LTIR and a ton of money tied up in aging stars.
People have suggested that the Hawks could trade Brandon Saad and Artem Anisimov in the off-season to free up cap space, but does that make the Hawks better? The answer is no. The team would be selling low on Saad and losing cost certainty. Saad’s trends and underlying numbers suggest that he is better than his numbers indiciate. If the Hawks trade Anisimov you are losing a point producer and probably not going to get fair value.
So as I stated earlier the Hawks are in Purgatory.
The Hawks Could Have Been In Hell
All things being equal, winning three Stanley Cup Championships during the Kane and Toews Era, we all knew it had to end at some point. It could be worse than it is now. The Hawks could be in Hockey Hell. Hell would be no hope for the future with many more bad contracts on the books. The reason they are not in hockey hell is because they have some budding young stars in Nick Schmaltz and Alex Debrincat to pair with Patrick Kane. They might have another budding star in Dylan Sikura this season. Let’s not forget that Henri Jokiharju might be ready for next season. Jokiharju could help the defense but he is no means the savior.
So the future is not all bleak, but i would not hold out for Stanley Cup anytime soon. The Hawks are going to be mired in the middle of the road to bad hockey until next CBA. Once that CBA hits the Hawks should be able to use the newest buyout to shed Seabrooks contract off the books.
Barring a miracle, this will be the first season since 2007-08. There could be several more to follow.