The Blackhawks are going to enter an offseason where many top prospects will need new contracts next summer.
Seth Jones’ mammoth 9.5 million cap hit will be in effect starting next season with many Blackhawks young guns needing new deals. The Blackhawks must take advantage of the offseason to sign these players to such new deals. It has been well-known that the value of these prospects are rising every month, as we can see with Alex Debrincat who at 6.4 million is widely viewed as a bargain.
The expectation is that the prospects will take steps forward in how effective they can be for the team. Dominik Kubalik’s contract is expected to rise just a little bit, around 4-4.5 million or so. He is expected to be the goal scorer after Alex Debrincat for years to come in my opinion, so a contract of around 4.5 million per year for four years would sound best. A small raise from the 3.7 million with a longer-term. Philipp Kurashev would be valued at around Brandon Hagel’s contract, 1.5 million for three or so years. He is an effective forward, but he doesn’t have the production to warrant a more expensive deal.
Then there’s Kirby Dach who I really don’t know what he would be valued at. As you may know, I was thoroughly impressed by his performance in the play-in tournament vs Edmonton. He would control the play, set up chances, was hard to knock off the puck, and not afraid to dish out the same punishment he was taking. Then there was this season where, in an injury-filled second year, wasn’t as impressive and that’s expected. With that, the Blackhawks should take advantage of this and sign him to a new deal before his potential breakout season. A 3 million bridge deal could very well turn into a 5.5-6 million bridge deal.
Yes, I know that these guys will be RFAs, where the Blackhawks can sign them to qualifying deals and other teams needing to give up assets to sign them. However, the value that they will be signed most likely won’t be more than 4 or 5 million. That won’t bring anything more than a second-rounder, except Dach, who may be overpaid (a la Jesperi Kotkaniemi) at the time and bring in a first and a third at 6.1 million.
Honestly, the Blackhawks are in a bit of a pickle as far as contracts and salary goes. Marc-Andre Fleury needs a new deal at the end of the year (though he’ll probably not re-sign anyway), Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Alex Debrincat all need new deals in 2023. I really hope Seth Jones returns to his elite form or his 8 year, 9.5 million deal will be the end of the next generation Blackhawks before it starts.
To conclude, much like invested real estate, the value of top prospects grows as a year goes on. If the Blackhawks want to keep their young guns, they will need to get busy and sign them early. Yes, agents may not want to allow their guys to sign anything early, but if this team wants to stay together for another year, it will be necessary.