It’s another offseason during which the Blackhawks face that question. The team has gone into the last few summers with salary cap issues and this one is no different. According to CapFriendly.com, the Blackhawks are currently more than $4.5 million over the 2016-17 cap of $73 million. Whether the 2017-18 cap stays stagnant, as the New York Post’s Larry Brooks reports it could, or goes up to as much as $77 million, the Blackhawks will have to part with a few players.
TSN reported last week that the Blackhawks could be sending Marcus Kruger and Trevor van Riemsdyk to the Vegas Golden Knights. Even with that, the Blackhawks will still have to shed more salary. So who are the possibilities? Here are a few, with what the Blackhawks could save and lose in the process.
Seabrook enters the 2017-18 season in the second year of his current eight-year contract that carries a cap hit of $6.875 million. He also carries a full no-movement clause. Obviously trading Seabrook and his contract would be great for the Blackhawks’ bottom line, but how feasible is it? I’ve used the Brian Campbell example before – he waived his no-trade clause to join the Florida Panthers in the 2011 offseason – but is this the same situation? Campbell had five years left on his deal at the time and the Panthers needed to hit the cap floor. Is there a team out there willing to take the Seabrook contract, or even a portion of it? And if there is, it’s up to Seabrook whether or not he’d OK the move. Also hurting the potential is that the 32-year-old Seabrook is coming off a mediocre season.
What would be lost: Seabrook may not be the most talkative Blackhawks player publicly but he’s a very vocal leader for the team. Players will tell you he’s the one who’s talking most in the locker room. We all remember his penalty box pow-wow with Jonathan Toews in the 2013 postseason. And even though he wasn’t at his best last season his veteran presence on a blue line would be missed.
Anisimov has given the Blackhawks stability at second-line center, an area that was a big question mark for them from 2011 until his signing in the 2015 offseason. He has four years remaining on his current contract ($4.55 million cap hit) and you would think, given his recent work, that other teams would be interested in him. But once again here’s another no-movement clause for a guy who looks like he’s pretty happy in Chicago.
What would be lost: Anisimov is a great net-front presence and, with Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin, has formed the most consistent and successful line in the Blackhawks’ past two seasons. Could someone else center that line? Maybe, but rekindling the chemistry that’s currently there wouldn’t be easy. That, and his trade would mean the return of the once-endless “Hawks need a second-line center” demands on Twitter. Oh goodie.
Another full no-movement clause to contend with but you’re getting that’s a recurring theme with this team. So back to the reasons why Hossa would be attractive to others: he had a rebound season in 2016-17, recording 26 goals and 19 assists. A true professional with work ethic to match, he’d be a good add to a young team that could use a seasoned veteran with a few Cups on the résumé. The cap hit, though, is still a tough one ($5.275 million through 2020-21).
What would be lost: Even when Hossa’s offense had dried up in the 2015-16 season, his defensive work is still tremendous. Our running joke is to point out the poor teammate who has to go up against him in battle drills. Sure, the Blackhawks would save money (that’s the whole point of any of these scenarios) but they would lose a right wing who is still strong and still capable of putting together solid seasons.
Yes, I know, you all don’t want to even think about this. The Blackhawks probably don’t either. The reason you have to entertain it is it’s possible. As opposed to many of his teammates who have full no-movement clauses, Hjalmarsson has a modified one. So there’s more leeway there. Also, when Hjalmarsson signed his latest contract in the summer of 2013, he didn’t take much of a raise and his $4.1 million cap hit (which the Blackhawks would have for two more seasons) is very welcoming. Well, that and his play, which brings us to…
What would be lost: Oh, plenty. Hjalmarsson has been a steady performer for several seasons now and, despite his brutal shot-blocking responsibilities he’s missed little time due to injury. He would be a tremendous acquisition for a lot of teams but his loss to the Blackhawks would be very tough to replace.
OK, I can see your eyes widening at this one. The Blackhawks get this fantastic left wing who can score (30 goals in 2015-16, 31 last season) and they could possibly give him up? Like it or not, it could be an option. The Blackhawks got Panarin to agree to a great deal for them (two years and a $6 million cap hit that kicks in this season). But that deal is also going to be attractive to other teams. It’s short, it’s not going to hurt anyone’s budget and it doesn’t have that pesky no-movement clause. Hey, you have to look at the potential of this because of the Blackhawks’ financial situation. They don’t have a whole lot of power here.
What would be lost: There goes a 30-goal scorer, one of your friendlier deals and the one Blackhawks line that’s been steady. Yeah, this cost-saving move would be very costly.