It’s going to be another painful summer in Chicago, but this time, there’s no Stanley Cup to soothe fans. On Tuesday, the Blackhawks traded promising young forward Teuvo Teravainen to Carolina to dump the salary of Bryan Bickell.
It was a mixed-bag of a season in the Windy City. The team’s Championship defence started out with star forward Patrick Kane under investigation for allegedly raping a woman at his New York home. The charges were later dropped. Kane teamed up with rookie Artemi Panarin to score a career-high 106 points and win the Art Ross Trophy. Panarin, in his first NHL season after six years in the KHL, finished in the top 10 scorers in the league. The Blackhawks finished third in the tightly-contested Central Division and lost to rival St. Louis Blues in 7 games.
Projected Cap Space: $8.4MM, 16 players under contract.
Key Restricted Free Agents: Andrew Shaw – the pesky forward scored 34 points this season, the second highest total of his career. He’s coming off a controversial playoffs where he was suspended for using a homophobic slur towards a referee after making an inappropriate hand gesture. Shaw has been a favourite of coach Joel Quenneville, but was doubtful to return before Tuesday’s trade. Chicago Sun-Times writer Mark Lazerus reported that the Blackhawks fully expect to be able to re-sign Shaw. Expect the deal to be for 3 or more years north of $3MM per.
Other RFAs: Dennis Rasmussen
Key Unrestricted Free Agents: Andrew Ladd, Dale Weise – the pair of wingers were acquired at the trade deadline as the Blackhawks loaded up for a Cup run. Both players are expected to test the open market as Chicago doesn’t have cap space to sign either at close to their market-value.
Outlook: The Blackhawks need at least 5 forwards, a couple defensemen, and a third string goalie. Don’t expect any of those players to have a salary above $1MM.
With $48.78MM invested in their 7-player core of Jonathon Toews, Kane, Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Marian Hossa, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Corey Crawford, money is going to be tight to re-sign Shaw, round out their roster, and prepare for Panarin’s new contract next season.
With regards to the expected expansion draft next summer, the Blackhawks do not have much to worry about, as they will be able to protect all their important pieces. Chicago does not have a first round pick in the upcoming draft.