Toews

(They say a picture is worth a thousand words... but to Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz, the above one is worth about 1.3 million)

 

Congratulations on winning the 2010 Stanley Cup, Chicago. Now, welcome to cap hell! The Blackhawks have almost $58 million committed to 14 players for 2010-11. The current salary cap ($56.8 million) is expected to rise by $2 million this summer, but that still leaves GM Stan Bowman approximately $1 million to sign eight players.

 

On the surface, it appears like Chicago might be completely screwed for 2010-11 and beyond. Their core (Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Marian Hossa) is locked up to long-term deals aside from Seabrook, and all five will be wearing Blackhawk sweaters for a long time. However, their impressive depth is in jeopardy this summer. Can Chicago find a way to keep this team together? Probably not, but their situation may not be as bad as it has been made out to be...

 

Keep in mind that I am making a number of assumptions with my off-season plan for Chicago.


If Stan Bowman follows this simple five-step process, he should expect another deep playoff run in the spring of 2011. It was reported today that Jonathan Toews received a $1.3 million bonus for winning the Conn Smythe, and that bonus will count against the 2010-11 cap for Chicago. That complicates things a bit more.

 

1. Bury/trade Cristobal Huet.

 

This is the most obvious and logical move for Chicago to make. A $5.6 million goalie riding the bus in the AHL may keep Rocky Wirtz awake at night, but he will have the comfort and protection of at least one Stanley Cup ring beside him. Huet has two years left on his current deal, and is virtually untradeable. Chicago could package him up with some great players/picks/prospects in a salary dump move if they are unwilling to bite the bullet and demote him.

 

Fantasy impact: Corey Crawford should get the promotion to back up Antti Niemi in 2010-11. Crawford had the inside track at the back up position last fall behind Huet, but he lost out to Niemi in training camp. Chicago may also dip into the free agent market for a more experienced depth goalie, but a Crawford/Niemi tandem will be cheap and should be effective. Niemi probably won’t start more than 55 or 60 games, so Crawford will have some fantasy value.

 

2. Trade Kris Versteeg.

 

Versteeg is a fantastic second line scoring winger. He is crafty, fast, and confident with the puck. However, his $3 million cap hit will be too rich for Chicago’s blood in 2010-11. The Hawks would prefer to keep Dustin Byfuglien ($3 million) and the versatile Patrick Sharp ($3.9 million) over Versteeg. He could fetch a nice prospect and/or draft pick in a trade.

 

Fantasy impact: Versteeg’s position in the top nine would probably be replaced internally. The best bet to step up is bruising winger Kyle Beach. Beach led the WHL in scoring in 2009-10, and he plays with more edge than a Gillete Fusion razor. Neither Bryan Bickell nor Jack Skille has Beach’s offensive upside. Beach could emerge as a Calder candidate if he earns a spot on the top line (20-25 goals, 50-55 points, and a lot of penalty minutes). More realistically, expect 12-15 goals and 200+ PIM if he makes the team in more of a depth role.

 

3. Don’t re-sign John Madden

 

Madden was a great veteran presence for the young Hawks, but he has seen better days and the Hawks can spend his $2.75 million cap hit more wisely.

 

Fantasy impact: Little to none. Expect someone like Jake Dowell or Bryan Bickell (league minimum salary) to replace Madden on the fourth line.

 

4. Trade Brent Sopel

 

Sopel had a fantastic playoff run for the Blackhawks. He was an afterthought for most of the season, but emerged as a very reliable top-four/five blue liner from the outset of the playoffs during the Nashville series. He battles hard and is solid in the defensive zone. There will be a market for a steady, reliable defenseman making $2.2 million. Chicago would love to keep him but they need to pinch more than a few pennies this summer.

 

Fantasy impact: Depends who Chicago brings in. They could call up young defenseman Brian Connelly from Rockford (AHL). Connelly had 35 points in 78 games for the IceHogs last season. He is undersized at 5’11” and 175 lbs, but he is a good skater and plays a very smart game. They may opt for more of a veteran presence and sign a free agent (perhaps Nick Boynton returns).


5. Trade Andrew Ladd’s rights

 

Ladd had a strong playoff run and emerged as a solid third line banging winger. He skates well, hits hard, and has a very good shot. He is a restricted free agent this summer and will be looking for at least $2.5 million/season. Like Versteeg, the Hawks could fetch a solid prospect and/or draft pick for Ladd.

 

Fantasy impact: Ladd’s most logical replacement is Jack Skille. Skille hasn’t developed offensively like Chicago had hoped when they selected him 7th overall in 2005, but he has good size and is strong at both ends of the ice. He has upside to be a 20 goal scorer if put in the right situation, but expect him to be skating in more of a depth role next season. A trade out of Chicago will benefit Ladd, as he will probably fit in on the second line somewhere else. He didn’t see much power play time with Chicago, but he could score 25 goals in a more offensive situation.

 

Using those five steps, the following roster could be assembled:

 

Forwards




Dustin Byfuglien $3 million Jonathan Toews $6.3 million Patrick Kane $6.3 million
Tomas Kopecky $1.2 million Patrick Sharp $3.9 million Marian Hossa $5.275 million
Kyle Beach $1.2 million Dave Bolland $3.375 million Jack Skille $.950 million
Troy Brouwer $1.025 million Adam Burish $.900 million Bryan Bickell $.55 million
Defensemen




Duncan Keith $5.54 million Brent Seabrook $3.5 million

Niklas Hjalmarsson $3 million Brian Campbell $7.1 million

Jordan Hendry $0.65 million Nick Boynton $1.0 million

Goalies




Antti Niemi $2.5 million



Corey Crawford $0.800 million



 

Without the $1.3 million bonus owed to Jonathan Toews, that roster would place Chicago about $35,000 below the $58.8 million proposed salary cap for 2010-11. However, factoring in the bonus, it is obvious more cost cutting must be done.

 

Adam Burish could be jettisoned for an even cheaper fourth line center. That saves about $400,000. A cheaper sixth defenseman could be signed or called up from Rockford. That saves another $500,000. Tomas Kopecky could be dealt for a pick. Kopecky was a very effective player for Chicago down the stretch and throughout the playoffs. However, he isn’t going to be the difference between winning and losing. That would save another $500,000, which should open up enough space. That leaves Chicago with the following roster:

 

Forwards




Dustin Byfuglien $3 million Jonathan Toews $6.3 million Patrick Kane $6.3 million
Kyle Beach $1.2 million Patrick Sharp $3.9 million Marian Hossa $5.275 million
Troy Brouwer $1.025 million Dave Bolland $3.375 million Jack Skille $.950 million
LW $0.500 million C $0.500 million Bryan Bickell $.55 million
Defensemen




Duncan Keith $5.54 million Brent Seabrook $3.5 million

Niklas Hjalmarsson $3 million Brian Campbell $7.1 million

Jordan Hendry $0.65 million D $0.500 million

Goalies




Antti Niemi $2.5 million



Corey Crawford $0.800 million



 

Conspiracy theorists – does Bettman want to see the Blackhawks fail? I am being facetious of course, but the choice of Toews over Keith for the Conn Smythe was baffling (and now very costly for Chicago). Toews had 14 even strength points in the playoffs, only two more than Keith. Toews scored only twice at even strength, and was goalless and minus-6 during the Cup Final. Keith averaged over 28 minutes of ice time per game during the playoffs.

 

How will Stan Bowman navigate through difficult waters this summer? Weigh in with your thoughts!

 

 


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Comments (21)add comment

Katharsis said:

Katharsis
Makarov? Has he fallen so far out of the picture his name doesn't even get a mention in possible young, cheap players to fill out the roster? Or perhaps I missed something about him?
June 14, 2010
Votes: +0

Sean said:

rkoshack
... I believe Campbell has a no trade clause not a NMC...So technically he could be waived, doubt that happens tho
June 11, 2010
Votes: +0

angus said:

angus
... I'll eat my hat if Hjalmarsson signs for $2 million per.
June 11, 2010
Votes: +1

Darren said:

Panger
... Firstly, Stan Bowman is a jerk off. Inherrited a great think and for some stupid reason believes it was all his doing. F'n JERK OFF.
Secondly, no one will take Campbell at that price. You have to remember when he left Buf-SJ he was a PP1 stud QB. He is not utilized in Chi like he would anywhere else. Tallon did not see that coming, as anyone else would of. Like come on! Duncan Keith 70 points?
Agree with trading Versteeg and Madden who has clearly lost a step.
The other big pet peeve is how Byf is SO loved. He is an absolute playoff stud, be be weary poolies, as he's nothing more than a 40-50 pointer 2nd-3rd liner. His BS in front of the net is not tolerated during the season when the big boys are in, and that makes him a p/o producer only.
Great article Anger.
June 11, 2010
Votes: +1

Larry said:

Rollie1967
... How did Hjalmarsson get a $3mil per contract? good player-but atleast $1mil too much. If they do manage to trade/bury Huet, there are more proven backups than Crawford that they should be able to get at the league minimum (and save another 300k) leaving Crawford in the minors as insurance (if Huet is buried- hes not coming back at all)and for those previous posters- you cant include cash in trades any longer (to cover a bloated contract like Campbell or Huet's)
June 11, 2010
Votes: -1

steve said:

WestCoastSteez
... Great article man, as usual. I know its a bit premature asking for another, but I was thinking it may be pretty cool to compare the Hawks cap situation to the Flyers situation. I was having a debate with my buddy earlier over which team is better positioned moving forward. To be honest I see Philly being able to hang on to more pieces of their Stanley Cup Final team.

Anyways, keep on the good work!

-cheers
June 11, 2010
Votes: +0

angus said:

angus
... Hossa won't be playing until he is 41. They are simply a mechanism to "circumvent" the cap. Luongo/Hossa/Keith will all retire long before their deals expire.
June 11, 2010
Votes: +0

Joe said:

LordStanley
... Sorry but why would FLA trade Horton for Campbell and that crazy contract. The only way the Hawks get rid of Campbell is by throwing in some high draft picks which they can get from trading Versteeg. As for Hossa being a superstar, I guess we diff on the meaning of superstar. If less then a PPG over the last 3yrs makes a superstar then the Hawks will be quite happy over the next 11yrs. Sorry but not a fan of these long term deals for players over 30.
June 11, 2010
Votes: +0

StatsJunkie said:

June 11, 2010
Votes: +0

Dale Kenzle said:

kenzle1r
Here's my thoughts for what its worth... I think they should keep Sopel for roughly $2.5M and trade Campbell’s monster contract of $7.1 away to a team like CBJ or FLA who both need a quarterback to man the PP…both teams also have decent to good cap space…

What if FLA traded Campbell for Horton? If they resign Sopel for $2.5 and add Horton’s $4.5M a year, that basically adds up to Campbell’s contract…then they can move Huet, Versteeg and Ladd as suggested

The lines would be this:

Bufyglien – Toews – KaneCap hit: $15.6M
Sharp – Horton – Hossa Cap hit: $13.65M
Beach – Bolland – BrouwerCap hit: $5.6M
Kopecky – Burish – BickellCap hit:$2.65M

Keith – SeabrookCap hit:$9.04M
Hjarmallson – SopelCap hit:$5.5M
Hendry – BoyntonCap hit:$1.65M

Niemi and CrawfordCap hit:$3.3M

Total Cap hit:$56.99(plus you add in Toews Conn Smyth bonus of $1.3M and you’re at $58.29 – under the cap!)

I think that team would have a good chance to repeat…
June 11, 2010
Votes: +0

mick said:

hawkdog
... where is eager in your roster? do not expect him back?
Chicago should be able to pick some good draft picks for sure
especially with teams like edmonton and boston have more than one first round pick which bodes well for the hawk's future.
smilies/cry.gif
what about trading Bolland?
June 11, 2010
Votes: +0

Rad64 said:

Rad64
... Hey guys, how does the cap work if you trade a guy but continue to pay part of his salary? Does the team taking the player take the full cap hit or is it split based on who pays what?

Perhaps the Hawks could move guys like Huet or Campbell and eat a portion of their contracts?
June 11, 2010
Votes: +0

Jeremy Wark said:

jer_33
... If I hear any Chicago fan complaining about the teams salary cap situation after winning the Cup, I'll puke. Your team won it all, the cost of which will likely be losing a bunch of free agents you can no longer afford, and/or "reward contracts" to players that helped the team/owners achieve their goals. Either way, the make-up of the Hawks will be different and probably somewhat weaker next season. Niemi should be back, and is the most likely candidate for a "reward contract".

I'm not complaining about this article, it's well thought out and a nice opinion piece - just stating a fact. Ducks fans did this after their Cup win (though the situation was slightly different with Neidermayer and Selanne debating retirement), and it drives me nuts.
June 11, 2010
Votes: +1

chris hayward said:

christopher929
... The 800 pound elephant in the room is the $7 mil contract for Campbell. If they can move him (that contract) that frees up a ton of cap room. Question is what contract will they need to take back and how much will they save.

June 11, 2010
Votes: +0

duducks said:

duducks
... In the midst of a rant, Sentium said something pretty important re: Huet on the forums. They can't send him down until the season starts, and they have to meet the cap well before then.
June 11, 2010
Votes: +0

Jake said:

smack
Campbell Stays I don't like to say impossible, but I think it's just near impossible to trade Campbell. But, I thought the same thing about Gomez in NY.

Angus, how does Tallon get a ring? The Hawks being generous or is he supposed to get one?
June 10, 2010
Votes: +0

angus said:

angus
... Hossa signing is great. A superstar forward at a sub 6 mill cap hit?

Tallon may have officially signed the other two contracts, but he was pressured/forced into that situation by higher ups in the organization.

Nice to see he will be getting a ring - he deserves it. Drafted Kane, Toews, Byfuglien, Keith, Seabrook, signed Niemi, traded for Versteeg, Sharp, drafted Bolland, Brouwer. On this roster, only player he had nothing to do with was Madden (and Kim Johnsson, but he doesn't count).
June 10, 2010
Votes: +0

Joe Arruda said:

LordStanley
... Dale Tallon screwed this team for the future with the Huet,Campbell and Hossa signings.
June 10, 2010
Votes: +0

angus said:

angus
... Niemi is a solid goalie, but he won't see a dime over $3 million (from Chicago, anyway).

Campbell being traded would help. A lot. Don't see there being any market for that contract, and with a NMC he can't be waived like Huet. It's too bad - at 3.5 or 4 million, Campbell is a fantastic asset with the way he skates and moves the puck.
June 10, 2010
Votes: +0

Atomic Wedgy said:

Atomic Wedgy
... Getting rid of Campbell somehow would solve a lot of problems. Trading him along with Versteeg to someone with a lot of cap space, would be an awesome maneuver.
June 10, 2010
Votes: +0

Claudio said:

sakic19
Niemi Angus do you really think Chicago will re-sign Niemi, especially only for 2.5M??
June 10, 2010
Votes: +0
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