The Chicago Blackhawks utilized their cap space well last season when the team acquired Brett Connolly from the Florida Panthers. However, the team used his contract as leverage to acquire former 1st round pick Henrik Borgstrom in the deal as well. With the Blackhawks still have ample cap space they could look to acquire another bad contract or two along with some additional assets. I’ll take a look at five players the Hawks could trade for to bring in additional assets.
First, is Tyler Johnson from the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tampa currently sits about $5 million over the salary cap, with several players still needing to be signed. Johnson has been relegated to a 4th line role the last season or two as his point totals, and play in general, have dropped off dramatically. Due to his reduced role and how Johnson’s contract pays him $5 million over the next three years, means Tampa simply cannot afford him anymore. The Blackhawks would likely be able to acquire a 1st round pick, as well as, one of Tampa’s better prospects to take on Johnson’s contract.
The second is Andrew Ladd from the New York Islanders. The Islanders currently have about $6 million in cap space, but they have to sign Anthony Beauvillier, Adam Pelech, and Ilya Sorokin, who will all get nice raises. Ladd has been in and out of the lineup the last few seasons as he’s been healthy scratched or injured quite a bit. He also has two years at $5.5 million AAV left on his deal, and with the Islanders making it to game 7 of the conference finals, they’ll want to use that money elsewhere. Like Johnson, the Hawks would likely be able to acquire a 1st round pick, as well as, one of the Islanders’ better prospects by helping out New York and taking Ladd.
Third, is James Neal from the Edmonton Oilers. Neal’s contract owes him $5.75 million for the next two years, although, his play does not warrant that money anymore. With the Oilers getting swept in round one, while also trying to make Connor McDavid happy and needing to resign players like Kailer Yamamoto, Tyson Barrie, Adam Larsson, and Mike Smith with about $17 million in cap space, change is needed in Edmonton. Due to Neal’s ability to be a bottom 6 scorer, the Hawks would likely acquire a 2nd or 3rd round pick with a prospect to take on Neal’s contract.
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Next, is Loui Eriksson from the Vancouver Canucks. Eriksson’s contract pays him $6 million this season before he is set to hit the open market again. Vancouver has about $16 million in cap space with Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes to sign. The Canucks have numerous bad contracts but with Eriksson’s non-factor and lackluster play when in the lineup it’s best for the team to try and move that contract. After such a great postseason run in the summer of 2020, the Canucks took major steps back this past season and will need all of the cap space available to improve the team. Look for the Hawks to net a 2nd round pick and a decent prospect or another mid-round pick to take Eriksson’s contract.
Finally, the last contract is Milan Lucic from the Calgary Flames. The Flames have about $15 million of cap space at their disposal, with Lucic taking up $5.25 million for the next two years. While Lucic has been a serviceable 4th line power forward, his point totals have really dropped off the last few years, combined with his skating speed, just doesn’t bode well for the Flames. With Dillon Dube and Juuso Valimaki to sign, along with roster improvements after a good ending to their season, the Flames need to shed cap. The Hawks could acquire a second-round pick and one of the Flames better prospects in a deal.
These five players, along with others not in this article, are players for the Hawks to target should they want to stick to the plan and follow the rebuild. Utilizing their cap space while obtaining valuable assets in the process would be very valuable for the Blackhawks now and in the future.