Figuring there are another 13 or 14 spots to fill on the roster and anywhere between $35 and $40 million of cap space (depending on where it sits next year), the rest of the roster is likely where we will see some changes.
Patrick Sharp, Lance Bouma, and Tommy Wingels all have expiring contracts this season. I think only Wingels has a chance to possibly be with the team next season with his small contributions this year and the fact he can play a little bit of center. That is, if Wingels is willing to play for $1 million or less next year like he did this year.
After that, the team has $16.55 million tied up in Brandon Saad, Corey Crawford, and Artem Anisimov. Crawford’s contract ends after 2019-20 while Saad and Anisimov have contracts through 2020-21.
While Saad has had a disappointing season, I believe it would be a mistake to sell the forward now as the return is likely to be quite low. Saad has shown flashes of his skill this season (even if they are few and far between) and his Corsi numbers show he has helped drive possession. It is his shooting percentage and point totals that are discouraging. Many may think that Saad will never be worth his $6 million contract, but I am not willing to trade away the prized return piece of the Artemi Panarin trade after one bad season, especially assuming the ‘Hawks will not get much back in a deal.
Crawford has had a long run of injury problems that have to be a concern for the franchise, but looking at what it is like to have Forsberg or Jeff Glass starting every night only makes the heart grow fonder for Crow. Crawford, when fully healthy, is one of the best goalies in the game and was individually stealing games for the team early in the season. Unless there is another great goaltender at a cheaper price (under $6 million), it is unlikely the ‘Hawks would move on from Crawford.
That leaves Anisimov, who will have his no-trade clause shift in July to a clause where the forward would need to list ten teams he would accept a trade to. While the Blackhawks are not packed with talent at center, the team may be looking to move on from a player who has never scored more than 45 points in a season and never had a face-off percentage above 50 percent in his career. At $4.55 million a season, moving Anisimov could free the ‘Hawks up with a little extra cap space.