In this Chicago Blackhawks ‘Roster Moves Ahead’ piece we will cover the current state of the Blackhawks roster and potential changes between now and training camp. The team made it through the 2019 NHL Draft in June with high marks. They made several moves with their restricted free agents and made a big splash in free agency on July 1st. General manager Stan Bowman is certainly not done with his roster. The question is, what lies ahead?
Blackhawks Roster Moves Ahead
The beleaguered general manager has spent the last several months trying to improve his shaky defence corps. He swung two deals for Calvin de Haan and Olli Maatta since the season ended. He also signed Slater Koekkoek and Carl Dahlstrom to short-term deals. And as speculated in our recent piece on free agent targets, Bowman addressed the tenuous goaltending position by signing free agent Vezina Finalist Robin Lehner on July 1st.
That leaves the forward position as the only one with questions still unanswered. We are going to cover all three parts of the roster for potential Blackhawks roster moves ahead.
The Blackhawks forwards were a big part of Bowman’s rebuild plan. The Blackhawks made a trade with the Montreal Canadiens for former Blackhawk Andrew Shaw. Shaw brings with him a lot of versatility, tenacity, and grit. The latter of which the team certainly needs more of every night.
While many did not like the trade due to the draft picks involved, Shaw’s cap hit comes in at a very reasonable $3.9 million per year through 2021-22. He also adds offence after scoring 19 goals with 47 points in 63 games last season. If Shaw can stay healthy and out of the penalty box, he will be a fan favourite once again in Chicago.
The Blackhawks did not make a qualifying offer to restricted free agent David Kampf. They were, however able to sign him to a new two-year deal at $1 million per season. The last remaining restricted free agent with the team is Brendan Perlini. The Blackhawks made him a qualifying offer on June 25th but as of yet Perlini and the team have not finalized a deal.
The Blackhawks also added another depth player in free agency by signing Ryan Carpenter to a three-year deal at $1 million per season. Carpenter brings size and will help fill a role at the centre position for the Blackhawks. He can also chip in on the scoreboard after scoring five goals and 18 points in 68 games last season. As for the Blackhawks own free agent forwards, both Chris Kunitz and Marcus Kruger went unsigned with the team.
Blackhawks Roster Moves – Forwards
The Blackhawks currently have 10 forwards signed for the 2019-20 NHL season ahead and signing Brendan Perlini would bring that total to 11. Signing Perlini would also use up most of the remaining cap space available. Per capfriendly.com the Blackhawks have $1.036 million in cap space.
Bowman will need to make some moves to get to the normal roster of 12-13 forwards on board. Potential forwards battling for a spot on the opening night roster are Dylan Sikura ($750k), recently acquired Aleksi Saarela ($753k) and John Quenneville ($750k), and also recent signees Anton Wedin ($925k) and Dominik Kubalik ($925k). To make room for the 12trh and 13th forwards Collin Delia and likely Carl Dahlstrom will be heading back to the Rockford Ice Hogs. We have more about that below.
Blackhawks Roster Moves – Defence
Bowman has had issues with his defence corps over the last few seasons. He got active and made two moves that should help the defence by trading for Calvin de Haan and Olli Maatta. Listed below are the current eight defencemen signed for next season.
- Brent Seabrook – $6.875 million
- Duncan Keith – $5.538 million
- Calvin de Haan – $4.55 million
- Olli Maatta – $4.083 million
- Connor Murphy – $3.85 million
- Erik Gustafsson – $1.2 million
- Slater Koekkoek – $925k
- Carl Dahlstrom – $850k
The Blackhawks will need to drop to seven on the defence in order to help make room for the 12th and 13th forwards. That is if Brendan Perlini signs his qualifying offer making him the 11th signed forward. Of the eight signed on defence, it is likely that Carl Dahlstrom or Slater Koekkoek begin the season in Rockford. Training camp and pre-season will play a big part in the final makeup of the Blackhawks defence.
You can also bet that up-and-coming defence prospects Henri Jokiharju and Adam Boqvist will want to be part of that conversation too. If Bowman decides the youngsters are ready, we may see Gustafsson or Murphy being moved in a trade before training camp ends. At least this off-season the team has options compared to the previous years. It will be interesting to watch how the defence corps plays out over the next few months.
Blackhawks Roster Moves – Goaltending
The Blackhawks began the off-season with a starting goalie with concussion issues and only one goalie signed past the 2019-20 season. The health of Corey Crawford has been an issue for the last two seasons and it has had an effect on his team’s play. Crawford when healthy was outstanding in goal. Despite a defence that failed miserably at protecting the slot, Crawford always seemed to be there to save the day on most nights.
Unfortunately, while he was on injured reserve his backups struggled. The combination of a porous defence and struggles in net help contribute to two straight seasons without a playoff appearance.
Collin Delia went into the off-season signed to a new three-year deal. He was and still is the only Blackhawks goalie signed past the 2019-20 season. It also appeared that Delia was set to be Crawford’s backup next season. That is until the team signed free agent Robin Lehner to a one year $5 million contract. The move was mocked by many at first due to the contract amount Lehner signed. Looking closely at the deal shows that the Blackhawks are better positioned in goal next season.
Everyone hopes that Crawford has a healthy year and finishes his contract on a high. Unfortunately, his health concerns are something the team had to consider. Lehner provides a quality goalie who can be part of a terrific one-two punch next season and possibly beyond. Delia will get his time in Rockford and will be a great backup if something happens to Crawford. There are also several goalie prospects working their way up in the system.
Blackhawks Roster Wrap Up
The upcoming Blackhawks roster moves will involve minor moves in order to accommodate additional forwards. They need to sign Brendan Perlini and open up two spots at forward to competition from their prospects. Once the final roster is set, they will once again be near the salary cap. However, the season ahead has an improved roster that has the potential to compete. The next two months will be interesting for the team on the rebuild and Last Word On Hockey will be here to cover it for you.