With the start of the new NHL year just around the corner, general managers of all 31 teams are fielding phone calls and taking offers on players that might or might not be available. The Chicago Blackhawks are no exception. Numerous reports and rumors have Chicago vying to be one of the active members of free agency. However, they need to address one area first to maximize their spending ability.
According to Jay Zawaski of 670theScore, the Blackhawks are making it a “priority” to trade Marian Hossa’s contract. Even though he is retired, the cap recapture penalties make it near impossible for Hossa to officially retire without any consequences. His contract is still active through the 2020-21 season, and he has a cap hit of $5,275,000, despite an actual salary of $1 million.
The NHL, like other leagues with a salary cap, also have a salary floor. It’s the absolute minimum a team has to spend in order to avoid other penalties. For the 2017-18 season, the floor was $55.4 million. However, it’s expected that the salary cap is going to increase to anywhere from $78-$82 million, with most projections placing it at $80 million. That means that the salary floor is also going to increase.
While it’s unknown what the floor will be for the upcoming season, the last increase was 70% of the cap rise. If those numbers remain true, then the salary floor would increase from $55.4 million to nearly $59 million. However, for this piece, we will place the floor at a modest $57 million.
If you missed my interview, I’m told it’s a “priority” for the Blackhawks to move Marian Hossa’s contract this summer.
— Jay Zawaski (@JayZawaski670) June 16, 2018
For a $57 million salary floor, there are currently 11 teams in the NHL that are under that number. Unfortunately five of those 11 teams were in the playoffs last season. They aren’t going to take on a contract if they are going to remain competitive. Even if they did take on a contract like that, the Blackhawks would have to give up something significant to do so, like their eighth overall pick or one of the teams younger players. It’s just not realistic.
The other six teams are as follows: The New York Islanders, the Carolina Hurricanes, The New York Rangers, the Vancouver Canucks, the Buffalo Sabres and the Arizona Coyotes. There could also be a seventh team in the mix, as the Ottawa Senators are practically imploding and are expected to make several trades this offseason involving their star players.
Out of those teams, realistically there is only three that could actually work: The Hurricanes, the Coyotes and the Senators. According to Scott Powers of The Athletic, the Blackhawks and the Hurricanes have already been in trade talks. Even though the talks were about goalie Scott Darling and defenseman Justin Faulk, Carolina is nearly $20 million under the floor. What more would it take for them to take on Hossa’s contract?
The Arizona Coyotes have shown in the past that they will take on contracts to reach the salary floor. There was also a rumor during the trade deadline that Arizona and Chicago were working on a Hossa deal. It’s possible they could still be talking, but it’s unlikely. Considering that Arizona tentatively has a verbal agreement with their top defenseman, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, for over $8 million per season, those trade talks could have possibly stalled.
As for Ottawa, the recent 31 Thoughts broadcast from Elliotte Friedman has them calling up Chicago and asking about the Hossa contract. Considering that this offseason has been anything but smooth for the Senators, they might need to look at players just to fill the salary floor exception. With both Erik Karlsson and Mike Hoffman potentially on the move, Ottawa will look to replace nearly $12 million in salary space.
It’s quite possible that a surprise team comes up and takes the contract off of Chicago’s hands. They do have two first-round draft picks this year, so it’s possible one of them is used as as incentive to take on Hossa. Chicago does have some other assets they can throw in, but it’s unknown who they are willing to part with.
Either way, it sounds like general manager Stan Bowman is going to move Hossa in an attempt to maximize their spending. If Hossa is moved, and the cap goes up to $80 million, the Blackhawks would have roughly $14 million in cap space. That could lead them to making some serious offers to some of the free agents out there, like James van Riemsdyk.
The cap space could go up even further if they trade either Artem Anisimov or Connor Murphy, as both have been mentioned in trade rumors. Whatever the case is, the Blackhawks are going to make a splash, especially if they want to keep that championship window open.
For right now, the focus is on Hossa. My personal opinion is that he will get traded to Ottawa along with a draft pick for some depth pieces. It works out for both teams, especially if the Senators do blow up their roster. I now pass the question onto you: Where do you think Marian Hossa’s contract will end up? Do you think a surprise team could swoop in and take the contract? Leave a comment down below!