The NHL salary cap is expected to be locked in around $81.5 million for each of the next three seasons.
Even before the NHL was forced to place the 2019-20 regular season on pause back on March 12 due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Chicago Blackhawks were going to have a hard time this offseason with their backs up against the salary cap yet again. But the Hawks received some more unfortunate news on Friday regarding the future of the NHL’s salary cap, as the league is expected to be locked in around the $81.5 million mark going forward because of the pandemic.
At the moment, the Blackhawks are set to have roughly $74,146,795 on their books for the 2020-21 season, according to CapFriendly.com. That would give the team around $7-7.5 million in cap space going forward in the offseason. Both Dylan Strome and Dominik Kubalik NEED to be re-signed, and that will likely cost the Hawks around $6-7 million alone. That still leaves Drake Caggiula, Slater Koekkoek, and Corey Crawford.
Caggiula likely won’t cost the Blackhawks anymore than $2 million, and that could even be a little generous. Still, there is a chance he joins the long list of players the Blackhawks simply cannot afford to bring back due to the cap. Koekkoek has played well in his time with the Hawks, but with all the defensemen currently coming up in the system, there may not be room for another sixth or seventh defenseman on the roster. That leaves Crawford, who will likely have to take a bit of a hometown discount to even have a chance at returning with the Blackhawks for his 14th NHL season.
The Hawks could save a few million by buying out Zack Smith’s or Olli Maatta’s contract, as they both have team-friendly buyout clauses in their current deals. The other option would be to add cap space via trade, which we’ve seen general manager Stan Bowman do a handful of times in the past. Either way, the Blackhawks front office certainly will have their hands full once again this offseason because of their limited cap space.
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