The Chicago Blackhawks 2019 summer rebuild process began immediately after the season ended. After two consecutive seasons without making the playoffs the pressure is really on the Blackhawks beleaguered general manager Stan Bowman. Despite many of the Blackhawks faithful calling for Bowman’s dismissal, owner Rocky Wirtz has yet to make a change in general manager. This gives the muddled Bowman a chance to redeem himself as the Blackhawks head into a crucially important off-season.
Bowman’s past three off-seasons have brought dismal results in improving the storied franchise and making them a contender again. For the general manager, this Blackhawks 2019 summer is going to make-or-break the Blackhawks future. We are going to cover the current outlook for the 2019-20 roster, the team’s restricted and unrestricted free agents, the unfamiliar high salary cap room, and various important dates upcoming this summer.
Blackhawks 2019 Summer Rebuild
The upcoming summer is bringing about another opportunity for Bowman to get his off-season moves right after blundering again last off-season. This time around, he only has a set roster of only nine forwards and five defencemen locked up for next season.
One good thing is that Bowman was able to sign Collin Delia to a bargain $1 million per season contract extension that carries him to the 2022 summer. This deal gives the Hawks a solid backup to Corey Crawford. However, Bowman will need to work hard to flush out the rest of the lineup.
Chicago Blackhawks Under Contract 2019-20
Here are the Blackhawks players 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
- Carl Dahlstrom age 24 $850,000
Unrestricted and Restricted Free Agents
Here are the Blackhawk players that are currently either UFA’s or RFA’s and a breakdown of the likely moves this summer:
It is likely that only Kruger gets an offer from the Blackhawks this off-season. The bigger question that arises is whether the team will offer him anything close to his 2018-19 salary of $2.775 million. Kruger is only 28 years old and scored 12 points in 74 games last season. He could be a hot commodity with teams looking for a solid third or fourth line center. His loyalty will be clearly tested when deciding where he wants to spend next season. Loyalty may not be enough, though, and the Hawks will need to bring a competitive offer to the table if they want to keep Kruger around.
It is likely all four RFA’s get a qualifying offer from the Blackhawks this off-season, with a good chance of rejoining the club in October. Luckily for Chicago, none of the four are likely to receive offer sheets this summer, so the team can breathe easy while working on new contracts.
The only player who may garner interest from around the league is the enigmatic Perlini. The former first-round pick struggled to try and find consistency in his limited time with the Blackhawks, scoring 15 points in 46 games. The 6’3″ 211 pounds Perlini often disappeared in games, leading to him getting benched several times last season. If he does get an offer sheet, the Blackhawks would best be served by simply cutting ties with the 22-year-old. Perlini is eerily reminiscent of Anthony Duclair in the 2017-18 season, who also struggled immensely. The Blackhawks let Duclair walk, which has proven to be a wise move.
Blackhawks 2019 Summer Unusual Salary Cap Room
The Blackhawks currently have the largest salary cap room they have seen in years. According to capfriedly.com, the team has $18,819,872 in salary cap available for the 2019-20 season. Bowman does have to deal with his unrestricted free agents and restricted free agents this off-season. Depending on how many of these players re-sign with the team, they should still have plenty of cap room available for free agent signing day. Re-signing Kruger, Perlini, and Kampf would get them to 12 forwards. Re-signing Koekkoek and Forsling would provide seven defencemen on the roster. That would leave room for one, or maybe two, impactful free agents; something the team desperately needs.
Looming 2020 RFA’s
Although, while everyone is gaping in awe at the Blackhawks excess in salary cap space, there is a dark cloud on the horizon. Two players who will be restricted free agents after the 2019-20 season should get immediate attention from Bowman. Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome both need to be signed to contract extensions before the end of the 2019-20 season and both will likely earn a modest amount.
To start, DeBrincat had an incredible sophomore campaign and deserves a large bump in salary. You can guarantee that “The Cat’s” agent certainly took notice of the recent contract extension given to Nick Schmaltz. With DeBrincat proving to be a much more valuable asset for the Hawks offense, he’s guaranteed a healthy raise with his next deal.
Strome also proved he could be a solid contributor last season and deserves a quick extension. He totaled an impressive 57 points in 78 games last season, 51 of those points coming in the 58 games he played with Chicago. This was a very big turnaround for the prospect that couldn’t get it going with the Arizona Coyotes. He’s become a top-player in Chicago, as long as he can prove to stay consistent.
These two contract extensions have to be taken into account as Bowman prepares for next season and the looming 2020 summer. Leaving them until next off-season would certainly open the door for offer sheets and put a lot of stress on Chicago’s shoulders.
Blackhawks 2019 Summer Dates To Watch
The NHL playoffs will draw the attention of many hockey fans over the next several weeks but in Chicago, the upcoming off-season is the focus. The Blackhawks 2019 summer timeline ahead holds many important dates for Stan Bowman and his roster. Listed below are several key dates:
- NHL Scouting Combine May 27 through June 1
- NHL deadline for signing unsigned draft picks June 1
- 2019 NHL Entry Draft June 21 and 22
- Teams can meet with impending UFA’s June 24 through June 30
- NHL deadline for qualifying offers to RFA’s June 25
- NHL free agent signing day is July 1:
Luck was smiling on the Blackhawks as they garnered the 3rd overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. The scouting combine at the end of May will give the team a chance to check out the prospects they may land this upcoming draft. The Blackhawks have a first round, second round, two fourth round picks, and a pick in each of the fifth, sixth, and seventh rounds. The opportunity is there for Bowman to draft wisely and restock his prospect pool.
The next two key dates are June 25, when the RFA qualifying offers are due, and June 24 through 30, when teams can meet with soon-to-be free agents. We will see which RFA’s Bowman offers contracts to by the June 25 deadline. That will help to determine his available cap room as he meets with impending free agents.
July 1 is the key date to watch for the Blackhawks this summer. Will Bowman try and fill the need for a solid top-four defenceman free agent? Could all of the “Breadman Come Home” rumors surrounding Artemi Panarin come true? Will the Hawks take a run at one of the many hot-topic RFA’s? All of these questions only increase the anticipation surrounding what should be an exciting early-July.
Last Word On Blackhawks 2019 Summer Rebuild
The fall of the Chicago Blackhawks has devastated their once-rabid fan base over the last two seasons. Another season without a playoff appearance will be completely unacceptable for those longing for another Cup. The pressure is on Stan Bowman to have an incredible off-season that will return the Blackhawks to relevance in the NHL. Over the next several months we will provide multiple articles about the state of the Blackhawks, and also the draft prospects available based on the knowledge supplied by Last Word’s own draft guru Ben Kerr. We will also cover the available free agents that could be difference makers for the franchise. It will be an interesting off-season, to say the least, so stay tuned.