The Chicago Blackhawks current roster problems this season have been related to their struggling defence corps, penalty killing, and goaltending. On the bright side, they had two straight wins prior to the NHL All-Star break which vaulted them from dead last to 27th in the NHL. That position will certainly be short-lived as the Blackhawks have their bye week up next. Once they return to action on February 1st the team will seek to continue their winning ways.
Unfortunately what awaits general manager Stan Bowman after the season is even bigger roster problems. Bowman will be facing a tough off-season with his anchor contracts, numerous restricted free agents (RFA’s), and uncertainty in goal.
Roster Problems Await The Chicago Blackhawks
Chicago Blackhawks Under Contract 2019-20
We’re breaking down the Blackhawks currently under contract for next season. We’ll list their age, salary, and any non-movement clauses. This will be the roster the team must build on to be competitive next season.
- Patrick Kane age 30 $10.5 Million (Non-Movement Clause)
- Jonathan Toews age 30 $10.5 Million (Non-Movement Clause)
- Brandon Saad age 26 $6 Million
- Artem Anisimov age 30 $4.55 Million (Modified No-Trade Clause)
- Drake Caggiula age 24 $1.5 Million
- Dominik Kahun age 23 $925,000
- Dylan Strome age 21 $863,333
- Alex DeBrincat age 21 $778,333
- John Hayden age 23 $750,000
- Brent Seabrook age 33 $6.875 Million (Non-Movement Clause)
- Duncan Keith age 35 $5,538,462 Million (Non-Movement Clause)
- Connor Murphy age 25 $3.85 Million
- Erik Gustafsson age 26 $1.2 Million
- Henri Jokiharju age 19 $925,000
- Corey Crawford age 34 $6 Million (Modified No-Trade Clause)
As you see, roster problems await their beleaguered general manager. Barring any future moves, they have 9 forwards, 5 defencemen, and one goalie under contract next season. Their salary cap based on these 15 players totals $60.755 million with projected cap space of roughly $18.744 million per capfriendly.com. That leaves 8 roster spots that will absorb most of the projected cap space. The roster problems for Bowman comes from, who does he choose to sign out of his impending RFA’s and unrestricted free agents (UFA’s)?
Unrestricted and Restricted Free Agents
Here are the players currently on the roster that will be either UFA’s or RFA’s after the season:
- David Kampf
- Brendan Perlini
- Slater Koekkoek
- Carl Dahlstrom
- Gustav Forsling (currently on injured reserve)
- Collin Delia
Out of the forwards on the list only Kruger, Kampf, and Perlini may be offered a contract this summer. Although any of them, as well as Kunitz, could be moving on before the February 25th NHL trade deadline.
Looking to the Ice Hogs for help also does not improve Bowman’s situation at forward. The three forwards in Rockford with some NHL experience are Victor Ejdsell, Dylan Sikura, and Luke Johnson. Likewise, they too are all scheduled to be RFA’s at season’s end. They certainly should be offered contracts this summer.
Forsling, Dahlstrom, and Koekkoek will get their chances the rest of the season to claim the sixth and seventh spots on the defence corps. Their ability to play solid defence will go a long way in getting them a contract offer this summer or possibly getting moved before the trade deadline.
In Rockford, the defence corps is almost as inexperienced as the forwards. Blake Hillman with four games in the NHL is an RFA at the end of the season. Andrew Campbell (42 games) and Brandon Davidson (162 games) have limited NHL experience but unfortunately, are both going to be UFA’s. This situation may force the Blackhawks to bring up defence prospects Nicholas Beaudin and Adam Boqvist earlier than anticipated. Both are currently playing in junior hockey and are way undersized for the NHL. Hopefully, they’ll get the time they need before getting thrown into the tough Western Conference.
Let’s take a look to see if there are any goaltender roster problems. What stands out immediately on this list is the name Collin Delia. The “California Kid” has been incredible in goal since being called up after Crawford was injured. Delia has a record of 4-2-3, a goals against average of 3.00, and a save percentage of .923%. When he is in the net he has faced an average of almost 37 shots a game playing behind the Blackhawks shaky defence corps. In addition, his save percentage would be in the top five in the NHL if he had enough games to qualify statistically.
The young man from Rancho Cucamonga, CA. has a bright future in net for the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks need to lock him up as their goalie in the very near future. Corey Crawford‘s health is a concern going forward. Will he be back this season? Can he stay healthy for the rest of the way? What are his options as an athlete with his concussion history? Is retirement on the horizon for the Blackhawks star net-minder?
Cam Ward‘s time with the Blackhawks will probably end after his free agent deal is over. He has not been the answer to the problems in goal this season. Hopefully, the Blackhawks can convince Ward to move on so they can get at least a draft pick before the February 25th NHL trade deadline.
Other than Ward the only other Blackhawks goalie with NHL experience is Anton Forsberg. He was waived after Crawford returned and is playing in for the Ice Hogs. Unfortunately for Bowman Forsberg is also an RFA at seasons end.
Bowman has his work cut out for him if Crawford is unable to return this season and stay healthy. His three goaltenders after Crawford are an unrestricted free agent and two restricted free agents. After that is Kevin Lankinen who went un-drafted. If Bowman is smart he signs Delia prior to the end of the season.
More Roster Problems Ahead
If you think things are bad this off-season, just wait until next year. Bowman’s roster wizardry is going to be tested even more. After next season the impending RFA’s are Drake Caggiula, Dominik Kahun, John Hayden, Dylan Strome, and “The Cat” Alex DeBrincat. Those are five of the Blackhawks current starting forwards. Of those five DeBrincat is a must sign for Bowman or whoever the general manager is at that time. And based on the last few off-season blunders by Bowman many wonder if he’ll be in charge much longer. One thing is for sure, the Hawks roster problems will be here for more than a year.