Analysis

How the Chicago Blackhawks Are Affected By Seattle Expansion

By Samuel Boland
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 27: William Carrier #28 of the Vegas Golden Knights and Duncan Keith #2 of the Chicago Blackhawks skate around the boards in the third period at the United Center on November 27, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 27: William Carrier #28 of the Vegas Golden Knights and Duncan Keith #2 of the Chicago Blackhawks skate around the boards in the third period at the United Center on November 27, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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The last expansion team forced the Chicago Blackhawks to make some tough decisions. Here’s how the NHL’s announcement of a team to Seattle could effect the Blackhawks.

Well Chicago Blackhawks fans, it’s official: the NHL is expanding to Seattle.

It’s been a long time coming for Seattle who’ve been pushing for hockey in Washington again ever since the Seattle Metropolitans ceased to xist back in 1924 (okay, that might be a bit of an overstatement). The team is set to begin play in the 2021-22 season, meaning the expansion draft will take place three summers from now.

While this is great for the people of Seattle, this move brings some baggage along with it (and not just the players who will be sent there during the expansion draft).

Central Division moves from seven to eight.

If you thought the central division is hard now, it might get harder in the near future. The division will be changing from seven teams to eight as the Arizona Coyotes will be moving there starting in 2021.

Arizona’s arrival could help the ‘Hawks as there aren’t too many bottom feeder teams like Arizona in the central (only the St. Louis Blues have less points), however the Coyotes aren’t to be overlooked as they have some young pieces with potential.

That said, Arizona hasn’t been overly efficient when it comes to making something out of their young stars, a big reason for the Dylan Strome / Brenden Perlini trade.

Westward Expansion

Like most any expansion team, the Seattle To Be Determined’s will engage in an expansion draft to construct their team. To the liking of the Seattle ownership group, Gary Bettman repeatedly has said that this draft will follow the same rules as the Vegas Golden Knights did just two summers ago.

According to Emily Kaplan of ESPN, no one seems to mind that Seattle will play with the same rules previously offered to a team which went to the Stanley Cup in their inaugural season.

"“Bettman said in May that he had received ‘no pushback whatsoever’ from other league owners about repeating the same process for Seattle.”"

As a result, I think this makes the core’s contract situation even tougher for the Chicago Blackhawks management to work with.

Here’s a general rundown on the rules of the expansion draft from NBC Sports Chicago’s Slavko Bekovic:

"“The Blackhawks – and every other team – have the option to protect seven forwards, three defenseman and one goaltender. Or, they can protect eight total skaters and one goalie. The incentive to keep more than seven forwards or more than three defensmen – depending on the team – would result in the penalty of exposing more players to the expansion draft.”"

That part of it is relatively cut and dry, however it gets interesting when you start to explore the rules a little bit deeper. Fortunately for the ‘Hawks, players who will make their NHL/AHL debut after this season will be safe from the NHL expansion draft.

Translation: If Adam Boqvist, Nicolas Beaudin, Ian Mitchell or anyone else makes their NHL debut ( 9+ NHL games) any time not this season, they will be automatically safe without having to be one of those players listed as “protected.”

Double Translation: the future is safe (for now).

Unfortunately, this gets less fun for the Chicago Blackhawks when you begin to explore the rules in regards to players with no movement clauses. I’ll leave it to Bekovic to break it down for us again:

"“Players with no movement clauses in their contracts will be forced to be protected and count towards the allotted total of protected players. The Blackhawks currently only have five players signed to contracts into 2021: Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith and Connor Murphy. All but Murphy have no movement clauses.”"

This means that should those guys still be Chicago Blackhawks during the 2021 season, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith will all have to be protected leaving only five forward spots and one defensive spot left open.

If you thought getting rid of Seabrook or Keith’s hefty contracts would be difficult before, it just got a whole lot worse. Virtually no one will be willing to take on a player like that now knowing that they will need to protect them over other defensemen when the time comes.

That said, if the Chicago Blackhawks continue on their downward descent the roster could be completely dismantled, however the additional pieces the Blackhawks would need to give up could be too much for GM Stan Bowman to execute a deal.

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