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 Talk Podcast: Blackhawks have a chance at playoffs

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks have a chance at playoffs

A return to play for the NHL is coming into form with the release of a potential format that would greatly benefit the Blackhawks. Pat Boyle, Charlie Roumeliotis and Scott King discuss the new format, what it would look like and why it gives the Hawks their best chance for another potential Stanley Cup run.

(1:10) - Details on the 24-team return-to-play format

(6:00) - The new format is a godsend for the Hawks

(11:40) - Which teams or players have an advantage with the new format?

(19:00) - The target date for Phase 2 of return to play is early June

(26:45) - Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews could thrive in the new format

(33:15) - The Hawks have a real chance at a Cup

Listen here or below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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Blackhawks 2019-20 season in review: Connor Murphy

Blackhawks 2019-20 season in review: Connor Murphy

The NHL put its 2019-20 season on pause March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but remains hopeful to award the Stanley Cup at some point. Although it's unclear if or when it could return, NBC Sports Chicago will recap the season of each Blackhawks player to date in our "season in review" series. Next up is Connor Murphy.

When the Blackhawks traded Niklas Hjalmarsson to the Arizona Coyotes for Connor Murphy, you knew it was going to take a while for the city of Chicago to warm up to Murphy. Hjalmarsson was such a beloved player in this town and Murphy had big shoes to fill.

But as the years have gone by, Murphy has proved to be a valuable piece of the Blackhawks' blue line.

Since the start of the 2018-19 season, the Blackhawks are 13-21-7 when Murphy is out of the lineup and 54-43-13 when he's in. That's a significant contrast and it's because he does a lot of the dirty work.

No Blackhawk was on the ice this season for more defensive zone faceoffs at 5-on-5 than Murphy (317), who also ranks third on the team in ice time on the penalty kill (162:49). And yet, he still set a career high with 19 points in 58 games, surpassing his previous total of 17 during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons in Arizona when he appeared in 78 and 77 games, respectively.

Murphy isn't the flashiest player, but you know what you're going to get from him on a nightly basis and that dependability is important. The Blackhawks have shown more and more trust in Murphy, who's ice time average was 16:22 in Year 1, 19:29 in Year 2 and 21:15 in Year 3, which is a new career high average.

Murphy's biggest challenge in Chicago has been trying to stay healthy. He missed the first two months of last season because of a back injury and another 12 this season on two separate occasions due to a groin injury. 

There's no doubting what a difference having Murphy in the lineup makes for the Blackhawks. And it's safe to stay the city of Chicago has officially embraced him as a player.

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