Salary Cap Deep Dive, Chicago Blackhawks

One of the more crucial responsibilities of any GM is navigating the pay cap. Teams that can balance signing players to deals that reflect their value (or compensate for potential value without breaking the bank) and avoid absolute cap upheaval continue to be successful. Those who don’t observe difficulties and changes in the front office….

One of the more crucial responsibilities of any GM is navigating the pay cap. Teams that can balance signing players to deals that reflect their value (or compensate for potential value without breaking the bank) and avoid absolute cap upheaval continue to be successful. Those who don’t observe difficulties and changes in the front office.

Salary Cap Deep Dive: Chicago Blackhawks

Salary Cap Deep Dive: Chicago Blackhawks

Every NHL team will be examined by PHR, and their cap situation going into the 202324 season, in detail. This will place more of an emphasis on players who are regulars on the roster as opposed to those who might alternate between the AHL and NHL. All of the caps are provided by CapFriendly.

Chicago Blackhawks

Current Cap Hit: $70,635,124 (under the $83.5MM Upper Limit)

Entry-Level Contracts

F Connor Bedard ($950K over three years)

D Wyatt Kaiser ($917K over two years)
F. Lukas Reichel ($925,000 for one year)

D Filip Roos ($925,000 for a year)

Possible Bonuses

Bedard: $3,500,000

$425K for Kaiser

$505,000 Reichel

$4.43 million in total

Last season, many clubs who weren’t in contention tried to “tank” for Bedard. If all goes as planned, he should swiftly surpass other centers in Chicago. He has a good chance of earning his $1 million in ‘A‘ incentives, although ‘B’ bonuses are difficult for anyone to get. Though it’s way too early to make any kind of reasonable projections, if he lives up to the hype, his second contract may be the most lucrative in team history. Reichel’s progression has so far been slowed down by Chicago, who have only sometimes allowed him to play in the NHL while largely holding him in the minors. From a development standpoint, that’s not a horrible idea, but it puts him in the category of being fairly likely to get a quick second deal, which will keep his earnings upside down.

On the back end, it’s challenging to single out just a few players to mention because there are still a lot of young players who could compete for various roster slots. Kaiser, who didn’t look out of place after graduating from college last season, averaged just under 19 minutes per night to give himself an advantage. Roos, who didn’t seem out of place coming out of training camp a year ago, may also. But in all honesty, Isaak Phillips, Kevin Korchinski, and Alex Vlasic should also be considered. But before any of them can demand a second contract of any kind, they must first establish themselves as regulars in the NHL.

Signed Through 2023-24, Non-Entry-Level

F Colin Blackwell ($1.2MM, UFA)
F Jason Dickinson ($2.65MM, UFA)
F Mackenzie Entwistle ($800K, RFA)
F Nick Foligno ($4MM, UFA)
F Tyler Johnson ($5MM, UFA)
F Boris Katchouk ($758K, RFA)
G Petr Mrazek ($3.8MM, UFA)
F Corey Perry ($4MM, UFA)
F Taylor Raddysh ($758K, RFA)
D Jarred Tinordi ($1.25MM, UFA)
D Nikita Zaitsev ($4.5MM, UFA)

In 2021, when Tampa Bay needed to make room on its cap, the Blackhawks received compensation for taking on Johnson’s contract. Although he isn’t the top-six attacker he once was, he can still play in the middle six. Even though Johnson has recently played the wings, his natural center position adds to his worth. He should have some interest if the price drops to half this in a year on the open market.

Another player they were essentially hired to play was Dickinson. He recovered a bit after a horrible year in Vancouver. He has yet to score ten goals in the NHL, so it’s difficult to imagine him earning more than this on his subsequent contract. He might be worth $1.5MM on a deal, at the very least. Blackwell’s offensive performance last season took a step back, but she still had a significant impact on the penalty kill. He was still quite inexperienced when he signed this contract, and now that he’ll have another few years of experience under his belt when he becomes available for free agency, he might be nearing the top of his pay scale.

Foligno and Perry are the next two. By exchanging for their bargaining rights and then offering them contracts that were far over market value, Chicago made it apparent that they were targeting these two veterans as mentors for their younger core. At this point in their careers, both players are best suited to play in the fourth line, and if they had been available on the free market, they probably would have received offers for around a quarter of this sum. They should anticipate their next deals, assuming they obtain them, to be in that price range, barring a pricey one-year extension if things go well.

Raddysh stands out among the RFA forwards. After a 20-goal season, a repeat performance and arbitration eligibility should cause his AAV to surpass $2MM, possibly even reaching $3MM. Entwistle and Katchouk are currently more depth players because they don’t have as much offensive potential. They will also be eligible for arbitration next summer, which might be to their detriment if we see another series of non-tenders like we did this offseason.

By bringing Zaitsev over from Ottawa in the middle of the season, Chicago was able to complete the Jakob Chychrun deal by paying him to join the team. Zaitsev has never been able to live up to this contract, but he can play a few minutes on a back end that is entirely untested, so he can still be useful to the Blackhawks. However, his subsequent deal ought to be closer to the $1 million threshold. When he was healthy, Tinordi took over as a waiver claim during training camp and eventually earned a regular role, earning him an extension in the process. Although that is a little higher than what his market worth may have been in free agency.
Mrazek is yet another deal that Chicago received payment to accept. Despite having a lower save % than in his sole season in Toronto, he still had a difficult season. Next summer, Mrazek might still draw some NHL interest on a better team, but at a cost closer to $1.5MM.

Signed Through 2024-25

Salary Cap Deep Dive: Chicago Blackhawks

F Andreas Athanasiou ($4.25MM, UFA)
F Ryan Donato ($2MM, UFA)
F Taylor Hall ($6MM, UFA)
F Philipp Kurashev ($2.25MM, RFA)
G Arvid Soderblom ($963K, RFA)
Teams with cap space had a wonderful opportunity to sign impact players for cheap this summer by simply picking up the whole cost of the contract. Chicago did it with Hall because Boston had to get go of him to make place in their budget to add players to their roster. Based on how the last few years have gone, his days as an effective top liner are pretty well over, but he is someone who can play significant minutes while providing Bedard with a genuine top-six linemate. In a perfect scenario, Hall’s stats improve while playing with Bedard, allowing the Blackhawks a chance to trade him in his final season and providing Hall a chance to earn almost this much money on the open market.

To persuade Athanasiou to forgo exploring free agency, Chicago offered him this contract. With plenty of cap room, they can afford to overspend, as is the case with Perry and Foligno’s above-market contract. If he wants to receive a similarsized contract in 2025, he must maintain or increase the 20 goals and 20 assists he registered last season. After posting a career-high 25 points in his previous season, Kurashev was given this contract in arbitration.
With their increased depth, playing time will be a little difficult to come by, so he’ll need to find a way to boost those numbers in a smaller role to prevent the possibility of being a non-tender candidate in 2025. Although Donato’s per-60 averages are quite outstanding, he has not yet secured a regular middle-six position. He should have another opportunity to do it here, and if he succeeds, his market as a more seasoned secondary scorer might be significantly greater.

In his short involvement with the Blackhawks last season, Soderblom experienced some highs and lows, earning him a one-way contract in the process. Though not strictly the goalie of the future for Chicago, he is seen as a goalie of the future. This interim contract offers both parties a time to assess whether he will be a starter in the future, a platoon option, or a pure backup. Naturally, the outcome will decide his next contract, which will include arbitration rights.

Signed Through 2025-26

D Connor Murphy ($4.4MM, UFA)
Murphy has been an exception at a time when home-based defenders are beginning to lose some of their value on the open market. Despite playing a lot of minutes throughout his tenure with Chicago, he hasn’t scored 20 points in his ten-year career. In three years, when he could be better suited for a more limited role on a depth chart, it seems unlikely that Murphy will be able to command this kind of deal given the numerous blows and bruises that come with his style of play.

Signed Through 2026-27 Or Longer

Both the price to acquire Jones from Columbus and the price of this deal were high for the former general manager Stan Bowman. The decision seems even worse now that new general manager Kyle Davidson has taken over and is dismantling the roster. Having said that, Jones hasn’t exactly played poorly for the Blackhawks and is a real top-pairing defenseman. While his salary is too big to try to transfer for anything like top value, especially in the current cap market, having a talent like that on a team that isn’t set up to try to contend for at least a couple more years isn’t perhaps the most desirable situation. Jones will thus be a significant fixture on Chicago’s back end for the long run.

Salary Cap Deep Dive: Chicago Blackhawks


F Henrik Borgstrom ($183K in 2023-24)
F Brett Connolly ($1.17MM in 2023-24)
F Josh Bailey ($2.67MM in 2023-24, $1.17MM in 2024-25)

Retained Salary Transactions
D Jake McCabe ($2MM through 2024-25)

Salary Cap Recapture
D Duncan Keith ($1.93MM in 2023-24)

Best Value: Raddysh
Worst Value: Jones

Looking Ahead

The days when Chicago fought vehemently against the salary cap are long gone. At least for the time being. The Blackhawks are closer to the Lower Limit than the Upper Limit as a result of their sell-off over the past couple of years, giving them a ton of flexibility for the upcoming season if they decide they want to take on a contract for a future asset or act as a third-party broker closer to the trade deadline even after taking into account the possibility of bonuses being reached.
This will change eventually, possibly with what many anticipate to be a large second deal for Bedard. It’s likely that Davidson will start seeking to restock the roster over the next couple of years, at which point they’ll likely resume being a team that spends the cap.

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