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How the Blackhawks can shed salary to fit under new cap

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Kamil Krzaczynski / USA Today Sports

The NHL and NHLPA have agreed on a salary cap for 2017-18, leaving the Chicago Blackhawks as the lone team with some shedding to do.

The cap ceiling for the upcoming season has officially been set at $75 million, and the Blackhawks are the only team currently above that mark with an overage projected at $2.52M, per Cap Friendly.

In fact, no other team comes within $4 million of the new limit:

Team Projected Cap Space
Blackhawks -$2.52M
Blue Jackets $4.04M
Islanders $4.04M
Ducks $5.45M
Blues $6.46M

Part of that extra salary could be gone as early as Wednesday, though, courtesy of the Vegas Golden Knights.

House money

TSN’s Frank Seravalli reports Chicago has a deal in place with the expansion franchise that would see Marcus Kruger move to the desert, with Trevor van Riemsdyk set as the price for taking on the forward’s contract.

Kruger is set to carry a cap hit of $3,083,333 for the next two seasons, while Van Riemsdyk’s deal is valued at $825,000 against the cap. The savings there amount to $3,908,333, enough to get the Blackhawks under the ceiling.

On the flip side, there are now two roster spots that need to be filled, leaving almost $1.4 million (and zero flexibility) to work with.

The expansion draft, then, is just the beginning of general manager Stan Bowman’s efforts to become cap compliant without sacrificing too much talent.

Spin the trade wheel

The next (and bigger) step likely involves trading a more core piece of the roster. Assuming Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Corey Crawford are safe, here are a few other candidates to be moved:

Player Position 2017-18 Cap Hit
Brent Seabrook D $6.875M (NMC)
Artemi Panarin F $6M
Marian Hossa F $5.275M (NMC)
Artem Anisimov F $4.55M (NMC)
Niklas Hjalmarsson D $4.1M (M-NTC NMC)

As we can see, the challenge here lies in the fact almost all these players can’t be moved without giving consent, which is why Panarin cracks the list, as unfathomable as that may seem.

We all know Bowman has proven to have a knack for filling roster holes with veteran players on the cheap, or with talented young prospects on entry-level deals. That challenge is greater than ever, with an aging core still stinging from the embarrassment of scoring three goals in a four-game sweep at the hands of the Nashville Predators.

Chicago, then, will be a team to watch closely this summer, and the Blackhawks could be active hosts of this weekend’s NHL Entry Draft by giving commissioner Gary Bettman a trade or two to announce.

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