The Chicago Blackhawks have been quieter than usual this offseason and one reason that has been the case is that while it has some cap room to work with, the team didn’t have enough to make a major splash in free agency. The team had been linked at one time or another to players such as James van Riemsdyk, James Neal and David Perron, but were unable to work out a deal and a lot of that has to do with cap space. With its minor moves made after free agency began when the team inked Chris Kunitz, Cam Ward and Brandon Manning, the team only has just over $2MM to work with.
That’s where the contract of Marian Hossa comes in. His contract of $5.275MM is still stuck on the books for yet another offseason until the team can put it on LTIR to free up the money at the start of the NHL season. That’s what Chicago did last season, using that money to sign defenseman Cody Franson and using it on shuttling AHL talent back and forth all season. However, that didn’t work, according to The Athletic’s Scott Powers.
The general belief was the team wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice and would attempt to deal the bloated contract to a team that needs the contract to get them to the cap floor. However, there haven’t been any takers as teams want an asset in return for them to take on the 39-year-old’s contract, which the Blackhawks don’t want to do. They were burned back in 2016 when they threw in Teuvo Teravainen to Carolina to get the Hurricanes to take Bryan Bickell’s final year of his contract off their books. Teravainen put up 64 points this season.
One way or another, especially if the team still has plans to make a big offseason move, is to find a way to get Hossa and his contract permanently off their books, even if they have to give up a prospect.
- With questions surrounding where prized 2018 first-rounder Filip Zadina may end up if he doesn’t make the Detroit Red Wings NHL lineup next season has been up for debate as there are rumors that the sixth-overall pick does not have to return to his junior team next season and could be eligible to jump right to the AHL. However, regardless on how the NHL decides that case, NBC Sports James O’Brien writes that it shouldn’t even matter. He writes that the team shouldn’t want Zadina to make the team next season as the team’s main focus should be to garner another high-end lottery pick next season to complete their rebuild. A 25-goal season by the flashy winger, who many had pegged as the No. 3 pick in the draft, could vault the team to that unenviable position of not being good enough to make the playoffs, but not being bad enough to get an elite prospect either. O’Brien hopes that the addition of free agent Thomas Vanek might help force Zadina to get much needed development time in the minors, no matter where he ends up.
- Paul Zeise of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes that while he envisions the Pittsburgh Penguins keeping Phil Kessel, who has been rumored to be moved out for much of the offseason, he could see the team move on from trade deadline acquisition Derick Brassard. The team suddenly has five centers and of them all Brassard is the most expendable. He has one year remaining on his deal at $3MM, but struggled to produce once he got to Pittsburgh, especially in the playoffs, posting just four points in 12 playoff games.