Blackhawks: How Bad Is Their 2020 Salary Crunch?

Brandon Saad #20, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Brandon Saad #20, Chicago Blackhawks (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Blackhawks will be in a tough situation this offseason with their salary cap. The question is, how bad is it and how can they manage it?

The Chicago Blackhawks find themselves in a situation they’ve found themselves in almost every year during the 2010s, another offseason where they are in a salary-cap crunch. What does that mean? The Hawks don’t have money to spend on current players or free agents. How is that fixed? Either by trading away players or buying players out.

So, what will Chicago do this offseason? There are rumors of Brandon Saad being on his way out, along with Olli Maatta being bought out. Buying out players is tricky, as there’s dead cap added for extra seasons after they leave.

How does the dead cap work?  The dead cap lasts for the same amount of years left on the contract after the contract expires. So, in Saad’s case, it would be just one year after he’s gone. For a player like Maatta, it would be two-years. So on and so forth.

The Blackhawks have $6,384,039 left to spend this offseason. That money has to be spent on a goalie, Dominik Kubalik, Dylan Strome, and defense. Kubalik is worth around $4,000,000 AAV and Strome is worth around $3-4M AAV. Along with that, Corey Crawford was offered a one-year, $3,500,000 AAV deal. Just to keep those 3 players doesn’t work, as the Hawks would have to get rid of at least one contract.

Their best bet is to either trade Saad or buy him out. The issue is, he is still valuable to the team, he just doesn’t have a great contract. Losing Saad opens up another hole on their offense. They already have enough holes on defense and in goal.

Their defensive holes will have to be fixed with their youth, as there won’t be money to spend if they want to re-sign Kubalik, Strome, and Crawford. The goalie problem will have to be solved by bringing up a goalie from Rockford/signing one for a cheap deal, but that still includes them spending money.

No matter what, even if there are “hometown discounts”, It’s likely to see a buyout and a trade or two. If they want to bank on their $6,384,039 left and cut $3,250,000, trading Zack Smith is their best bet. They’d have nearly $10,000,000 there.

If they want to spend some money in free agency, they’d have to move either Calvin de Haan or Olli Maatta. I see both players as expendable, in a sense that there are younger defensemen in the minors who will get a shot to play this season, but also valuble to the team.

Related Story. Is $3.5M too much for Corey Crawford?. light

Parting ways with Smith and either de Haan or Maatta could be enough to fix their salary-cap crunch for another season. It’ll be tough though, they have to either buy out a contract or find trading partners. Another issue is – when they open up holes from getting rid of veterans, can the young guys step up? That’ll be the story going into 2021.