Should the Blackhawks buyout Olli Maatta and Zack Smith?
By Ryan Fedrau
The Chicago Blackhawks will have some salary cap issues during the offseason, which begs the question, who can they afford to get rid of and how?
The Chicago Blackhawks have a few options to open up cap space for their young players who need contracts. The first one is trading, the second one is buying out contracts. Two players that the Blackhawks can do without are Olli Maatta and Zack Smith, as there are younger players in the system who can take their spots.
Let’s start with Maatta. Olli Maatta’s contract has 2-years left on it, with him being $4,083,300 of the Hawks cap hit. Buying his contract out would give him $1,361,133 for 4-years from the Blackhawks, but would save them $2,722,167 per season for the next 2-years.
Is that a bad idea? It’s not terrible, but being on the hook for 4-years with a player who won’t even be in Chicago anymore doesn’t sound so promising. Trading Maatta and receiving draft picks or a cheaper defenseman would be better to open up some space. If they want to save that $2,722,167 next year, trading him for a player who makes $2,000,000 or less is a good start. They could fill a hole by trading Maatta.
The issue is, the Hawks have too many defensemen that need ice time. If this team wants to go younger and play their young players, some of these defensemen need to go. Ian Mitchell needs a spot on the roster next year. He could easily slide into Maatta’s role and play alongside either Calvin de Haan or Adam Boqvist.
Chicago buying out Zack Smith saves them $2,166,667 next year, with them having to add $1,083,333 to their cap next year to pay Smith. After 2021-22, they wouldn’t have to worry about paying Smith anything.
Chicago does have the room to pay Smith $1,083,333 in 2021-22 as their buyout penalty, as they’ll have more money left over then. Of the players to buyout, Smith looks like the easiest, with his contract having just 1-year left on it.
Trading him for a cheaper depth forward also works, but they’d get more cap space by buying him out than trading him, most-likely.
We’ll have more of an idea of who the Hawks will part-ways with during the offseason soon. Right now, the playoffs are still going on, so, buyouts won’t happen until the Stanley Cup is awarded.
Per the CBA, the buyout window begins 48 hours after the Stanley Cup is awarded.