Blackhawks: Warning of a Salary Crunch coming soon
By Ryan Fedrau
With a lot of young players on the Chicago Blackhawks nearing the end of their first contracts, there will be a salary-cap crunch coming shortly.
Stan Bowman and the Chicago Blackhawks are notorious for salary cap problems. They’ve had to move players around to just stay under the maximum salary cap. Unless something changes in the next NHL CBA that will make the salary cap more flexible, Chicago will be in trouble very soon.
For starters, the Blackhawks need to work out deals with Dylan Strome, Dominik Kubalik, Drake Caggiula, and possibly Corey Crawford in the offseason. All of those players, besides Crawford, will be expecting raises in their salaries. Slater Koekkoek will also be a free agent, I do expect him to be let go in the offseason though.
The team’s salary cap will already jump up, with Chicago only having $9,853,205 to spend in the offseason. There’s no way they can keep everyone. They’d have to move either Calvin de Haan or Olli Maatta to cut some space.
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Adding to those players, after next season, Brandon Saad, Zack Smith, David Kampf, and Alex Nylander will be free agents. The biggest name of them all being Saad, who currently makes $6,000,000 per season.
Within the next two seasons, the Blackhawks will be rough around the edges. After that, both Adam Boqvist and Kirby Dach will need new contracts. If both players pan out within the next two seasons, Chicago could be forced to give out big contracts to both players.
As of right now, 2022-23 will have around $44,186,538 to spend. Remember, that’s before anyone has re-signed within the next two seasons. I’d expect to see a smaller number, within $15,000,000 to spend on Dach, Boqvist, and Connor Murphy.
In 2023-24, both Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Alex DeBrincat will be due for new deals. Toews should be making a lot less, which will save the Blackhawks some money. I expect Kane to want around $8,000,000 if he still is playing at an elite level. DeBrincat is hit or miss. If he has another 40 goal season or two, he might be able to steal big money from Bowman.
The more successful these younger players become, the more money they’ll be worth. In the last few seasons, the Blackhawks have been able to spend in free agency. If they don’t act quickly, they’ll have trouble re-signing players they already have.
The fix is to find a way to get rid of de Haan or Maatta’s contract. If they can get both, that opens up $8,633,000. If they can get rid of either Andrew Shaw, they’d add an extra $3,900,000 to that.
Lastly, if the Blackhawks can’t re-sign Saad for significantly less money, he has to go. He isn’t worth $6,000,000. Saad is worth around $4,000,000, maybe $4,500,000. If he’ll sign for less, it’s a huge bonus for the team. If he won’t they’ll save some money.
It won’t be easy, but it’s doable. If Bowman messes this up, the little chance of a playoff window opening within the next two seasons will close up again.