Blackhawks

Marian Hossa trade gives Blackhawks financial flexibility and chance to make larger move

Marian Hossa trade gives Blackhawks financial flexibility and chance to make larger move

The Blackhawks trading Marian Hossa's contract was inevitable. 

It made too much sense for a lower payroll team like the Arizona Coyotes to acquire a contract that carries a $5.275 million cap hit but only $1 million in actual salary for the next three years in an effort to reach the $58.8 million floor and for the Blackhawks to simply get it off the books, creating significant cap space. The fact Vinnie Hinostroza was included in the package is a good indicator of why it took so long to pull it off because there wasn't a way the Blackhawks could do it without removing a key piece of the roster.

But by making the deal, the Blackhawks have given themselves financial flexibility and the opportunity to make a larger move going forward, likely in the form of a trade.

The long-term goal has always been to lock up Alex DeBrincat and Nick Schmaltz when their entry-level contracts expire. It's why Chris Kunitz and Cam Ward each received only one year and Brandon Manning two years when they signed on Day 1 of free agency.

Extending DeBrincat and Schmaltz will no longer be a problem. The Blackhawks probably already have a number and term in mind and can move forward with those internal calculations knowing they don't have to worry about navigating around Hossa's contract, and whether to use the in-season or off-season long-term injured reserve route.

What really changes is the Blackhawks' short-term options. Clearly, their three free-agent signings alone aren't going to move the needle in lifting the Blackhawks back into playoff contention. Those were made to shore up depth at each position.

According to CapFriendly.com, the Blackhawks instantly saved $4.65 million following the trade and sit with roughly $8.55 million in projected cap space tied up to 18 players on their 23-man roster.

Now the Blackhawks can really go out and be more open-minded about a possible impact-type deal, like say former All-Star defenseman Justin Faulk, three-time 30-goal scorer Jeff Skinner or Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty.

Financially, they can make it work.

The challenge at this stage is: What would the Blackhawks be willing to give up to make a blockbuster-type trade to acquire somebody like that? Attaching Hinostroza and Oesterle to the Hossa contract almost certainly means they would have to be willing to part ways with a top-tier prospect at the very least and dip into their draft picks in 2019 or beyond.

You also have to consider the Blackhawks wouldn't be the only ones in the discussion for these kinds of players, so there's a decent chance they'd be competing with other teams on who can offer the most.

This doesn't even include the fact that the asking price is likely to increase or be contingent on a contract extension, which the Blackhawks may be able to contemplate too. 

All of this is now on the table — or at least in the realm of possibility where Stan Bowman can make a few more calls and advance conversations he wouldn't have been able to do before the trade — because the Blackhawks were able to completely clear Hossa's contract from the deck. Even if it came at a price they were perhaps hoping to avoid.

Blackhawks fill assistant coach vacancy with hiring of Tomas Mitell

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Bildbyrån

Blackhawks fill assistant coach vacancy with hiring of Tomas Mitell

One month after "mutually" agreeing to part ways with assistant coach Don Granato, the Blackhawks have hired 38-year-old Tomas Mitell as his replacement on Jeremy Colliton's staff. 

Mitell spent the past two seasons as head coach of AIK Hockey (Allsvenskan) in Sweden, where he guided the team to an overall record of 64-27-13. He led AIK to a league-best 35-8-9 record during the 2018-19 campaign, with their 35 wins and 109 points each setting franchise records.

Perhaps more notably: Mitell served as an assistant coach under Colliton with Mora IK (Allsvenskan) during the 2016-17 season, so there's obvious familiarity between the two. 

Mitell rounds out Colliton's staff that also includes assistant coach Sheldon Brookbank and veteran goaltending coach Jimmy Waite. It's a young group behind the Chicago bench, with Colliton (34), Brookbank (38) and Mitell (38) each having little NHL coaching experience but offer a new-school way of thinking.

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Blackhawks sign 26-year-old Swedish forward Anton Wedin

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AP

Blackhawks sign 26-year-old Swedish forward Anton Wedin

The Blackhawks have always been active in the overseas market, and they landed another on Thursday after announcing the signing of 26-year-old Swedish forward Anton Wedin on a one-year, $925,000 contract for the 2019-20 campaign.

Wedin had a breakout season with Timra IK of the Swedish Hockey League, where he set a career high with 27 points and led the team with 14 goals in 32 regular season games. He also added nine points (two goals, seven assists) in seven postseason contests.

Wedin is a 5-foot-11, 194-pound winger and carries a left-handed shot. He's known to be a speedy forward and can play a 200-foot game. Wedin is likely to compete for a bottom-six spot for the Blackhawks in training camp, and it doesn't hurt that Jeremy Colliton knows what he brings to the table having coached against him in Sweden when he was with Mora IK.

The Blackhawks' most recent overseas signings include Dominik Kahun, David Kampf and Artemi Panarin. They’re hoping Wedin can join that group as potential impactful players.

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