The Chicago Blackhawks salary cap struggles could help Kyle Beach earn a spot in the NHL as early as this year.
Rushing Beach would be a big mistake from a development standpoint and could ruin his career. Beach is not ready for the NHL, and like many power forwards should be brought along slowly.
One thing working against Beach making the team is that his cap hit for 2010-11 is $1.17 million. The Hawks are so tight against the cap that even once they rid themselves of Cristobal Huet’s clunker of a salary, they’ll have little cap space left to sign the rest of their roster.
Inking defenceman Jordan Hendry for $600,000 is the type of signing we can expect and this could help them fit Beach’s salary in this year. The Hawks will need to add one more depth defenceman and at least one more forward, possibly two. If they keep Beach and opt for two players, they’ll only have $1.675 million to split between them. It’s possible, but more difficult and Chicago already has six under-$1-million bargains on the roster for next season. Their much vaunted depth has taken a beating this summer and sales of lineup cards are expected to spike next season at the United Center.
If the Hawks decide to keep Beach this season, it will undercut his long-term fantasy value. If you own him in a keeper league, expect his long-term scoring upside to take a hit because this will not be good for his long-term development.
This year, you should expect very little offensive production, but expect lots of penalty minutes per game played. Chicago coach Joel Quenneville might not appreciate Beach spending too much time in the penalty box if he’s putting his team down a man, but he’ll like it if Beach is getting under the skin of opponents; something Beach has a knack for.
The potential danger of Beach’s style of play is that he can sometimes aggravate the wrong people. He’s not a heavyweight and if he gets into a fight with somewhat who’s out of his league, then he could suffer an injury. He’s had a couple of concussions in junior and doesn’t have the strongest jaw.
One intriguing possibility is that if Chicago does put him on the roster this season, they’ll try to insulate him as much as possible. The Hawks are a little thin on the left side and since Beach is an offensive player (he scored 52 goals in 68 games for Spokane of the WHL last season), he could get the plum assignment of playing with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
If that were to happen for any length of time, Beach could very well put up numbers worthy of Calder Trophy consideration.
Is it likely to happen? I don’t think so. Should it happen? No. But stranger things have happened and a cap crunch could force Chicago to rush Beach.
It’s one of the prospect scenarios I’ll be watching closely during training camp.
Upside: 30-40-70+, 200 PIM