The Chicago Blackhawks are most likely not going to make the postseason this year. Despite an improved style of play, they have most likely fallen too far back to make any sort of march towards the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
That being said, the Blackhawks are going to have some salary cap space to work with in hopes of marching back to the success they had during the early parts of the 2010s. As it stands right now, according to CapFriendly, the Blackhawks are set to have a little over $14 million in cap space, just based off NHL contracts that are expiring.
There are 12 players that have been on or are currently are on the NHL roster that are going to need new contracts: Marcus Kruger, Chris Kunitz, Dylan Sikura, David Kampf, Brendan Perlini, Andreas Martinsen, Gustav Forsling, Carl Dahlstrom, Brandon Davidson, Cam Ward, Colin Delia and Jan Rutta.
Of that list, I can see seven players not being re-signed. That includes Kruger, Kunitz, Martinsen, Forsling, Davidson, Ward and Rutta. Based off that list alone, that is going to free up a little over $10 million ($10,172,500 to be exact). Of course, the other expiring contracts are going to need some raises, but it’s nothing that will break the bank.
Sikura, Kampf, Perlini and Dahlstrom are going to get little bumps in their respective salaries. Delia is going to be a little harder to predict because it’s unknown if Corey Crawford is going to be fully healthy and the Blackhawks number one goalie. For this exercise, let’s say Sikura gets about $1.25 million, Kampf will get around $1.5 million, Perlini will get about $1.25 million and Dahlstrom will get about $1 million.
Assuming Delia gets $1 million, that brings the total to $6 million in total raises for these players. That would still give Chicago about $8 million to work with, plus whatever the salary cap is going to be raised to. Right now, the cap is at $79,500,000, and most experts assume it will go up to around $82 million. Assuming it does go up to that much, that gives the Blackhawks about $10.5 million to work with in free agency.
It’s unlikely that the Blackhawks are going to invest in someone like Artemi Panarin. He’s going to command way too much money. However, some of the other goal scorers on the list of free agents-to-be are going to cost much less, like Mark Stone or Jordan Eberle. Add in the fact that the Blackhawks are going to have a lot of their defensive prospects signing contracts next year, and that number could shrink some more.
As of right now, it’s expected that Ian Mitchell, Nicolas Beaudin and Chad Krys are going to sign contracts with the Blackhawks after their respective seasons. Not all of them are going to make the roster right away like Henri Jokiharju, but they could impact the Blackhawks future plans. Any and all contracts signed, no matter how small, impact the Salary Cap in a big way. In addition to the incoming defensive prospects, Chicago is going to want to work on extending Alex DeBrincat.
He’s going to be eligible for an extension on July 1, 2019, and it’s reasonable that Stan Bowman is going to want to get this done quickly. Based on his numbers, DeBrincat could see an average salary of $5 million or more. That might be more important than signing some free agents, considering DeBrincat is only 21-years-old.
The bottom line is this. Chicago is going to have some salary cap space to work with. It could be higher than the $14 million right now, based on how high the Salary Cap is expected to rise. They’re going to want to resign some of their younger players, and work out an extension for DeBrincat. Even if/when Chicago misses the playoffs, the front office is going to have some major work to do.