Why the Blackhawks may not be done making moves this offseason

Why the Blackhawks may not be done making moves this offseason

Since the offseason started, the Blackhawks have made five player acquisitions (Calvin de Haan, Olli Maatta and Andrew Shaw and prospects John Quenneville and Aleksi Saarela) and two free-agent signings (Ryan Carpenter and Robin Lehner). Their 2019-20 Opening Day roster is starting to take shape.

But GM Stan Bowman may not be done making moves just yet.

According to Cap Friendly, the Blackhawks have 10 forwards, eight defensemen and three goaltenders slotted into their structure for a roster size of 21 and projected remaining cap space of $1.036 million. With the signing of Lehner, Collin Delia is likely going to start the season in Rockford, which opens up a roster spot and $1 million.

That leaves the Blackhawks three roster spots and just over $2 million to fill out the final three positions, although they're not required to carry the maximum of 23 players on the NHL roster. The minimum is 20 but the ideal situation is 22 (one extra forward and defenseman).

But Bowman likes to have in-season financial flexibility for transactional purposes and right now the Blackhawks don't exactly have that. 

Brendan Perlini remains an unsigned restricted free agent and is likely to command at least $1.5 million. Dominik Kubalik appears to have a strong chance at making the Blackhawks out of training camp and his cap hit is $925,000. Dylan Sikura, whose cap hit is $750,000, was also singled out by Bowman recently as someone who could take on a larger role. 

That's three forwards right there who all figure to be part of the four-line rotation but mathematically and financially, it doesn't work without salary being moved out.

If we're trying to identify potential trade candidates, Artem Anisimov comes to mind as someone who's probably become expendable, given his diminishing role over the past couple seasons. The Blackhawks paid his $2 million signing bonus on Monday, the same day his modified no-trade clause was removed. His cap hit remains $4.55 million, but his actual salary owed over the next two years is $5 million total. All of that could open up new trade possibilities for the Blackhawks that are certainly worth exploring.

Brandon Saad's name has also been lightly tossed around over the past few months, but that's not a move you make for cap clearance. He has value and the Blackhawks would only consider it if they felt they were getting something of equal value — or close to it — in return.

If the Perlini negotiations unexpectedly go sideways, is he someone that could be the odd man out? Or could his extension potentially squeeze somebody else out? What about somebody on the blue line, which has suddenly become crowded? The Blackhawks have options but they don't want to subtract too much from the current roster. They've spent the last month trying to build around it.

While Bowman is comfortable with his financial situation in the long term and has been careful not to hand out long-term deals in the last two summers that could potentially get in the way of the second contracts for Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome, there are still some decisions to make before the Blackhawks can start figuring out what their Opening Day line combinations and pairings could look like.

"I think we’re in a good position with the cap," Bowman said. "We've really got sort of a pretty full roster now. Whether this is the way we start camp or tweak a few things, I think we’ve come a long way in the last month. If you look at where we were a month ago and where we are today, we’re a much, much better team and we’re well positioned to have a good season."

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How to watch Blackhawks vs. Hurricanes: Time, TV schedule and streaming info

USA Today

How to watch Blackhawks vs. Hurricanes: Time, TV schedule and streaming info

The Blackhawks host the Carolina Hurricanes in the second fame of a three-game homestand. The Blackhawks have been playing well as of late thanks to a schematic change made by head coach Jeremy Colliton.

And the Hawks are making a push up the standings in the process.

On Tuesday night, Patrick Kane will also look to celebrate his birthday in style by continuing his hot streak, which has been a vital part of the Hawks success this season.

Here's how you can watch and stream the game:

Date: Tuesday, November 19
Time: 7:30 p.m. CST
Location: United Center | Chicago, Ill.
TV: NBC Sports Chicago
Stream: MyTeams

NBC Sports Chicago Coverage

SportsTalk Live: 6:00 p.m. CST
Blackhawks Pregame: 7:00 p.m. CST
Blackhawks Postgame Live: 10:00 p.m. CST*

* - Immediately following conclusion of the game

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After facing early adversity, Blackhawks starting to believe they could be 'a dangerous team'


After facing early adversity, Blackhawks starting to believe they could be 'a dangerous team'

NASHVILLE — The Blackhawks were optimistic about their group going into the 2019-20 season because it was an offseason centered around changing the makeup of the roster. They were also on a 100-point pace from January-on to close out the 2018-19 campaign, and getting a full training camp under head coach Jeremy Colliton to build on that was supposed to pay off from the start of the season.

But after opening this season with a 3-6-2 record, the Blackhawks started to question themselves. They didn't have an identity and found themselves caught in the middle of wanting to be an offensive team but also stressing a defense-first mentality after they gave up the second-most goals last season.

Since making a schematic change on Nov. 7, the Blackhawks have earned nine out of a possible 10 points in their last five games and have scored 24 goals over that span for a goals-per-game average of 4.80. They had scored 33 goals total in the previous 14 games for an average of 2.36 per game.

The Blackhawks are starting to look like the hockey team Chicago was hoping they'd be this season, and the internal confidence is growing also.

"We got through a difficult time and being in the beginning of the year, it's magnified," Colliton said following a 7-2 win over the Predators on Saturday night. "If we would've went through that stretch in January, with 40 good games before, then maybe it's not as big of a deal. But when you come out of the gates like that, you put the team under pressure, everyone's under pressure. Happy that we were able to come out of it and stick together.

"Now there's definitely some belief that we're a dangerous team and we're going to be difficult to beat."

The first month of the season was difficult on everyone. The players, the coaches, the management group. Something needed to change, or the results wouldn't.

The Blackhawks are relieved that not only did they prevent things from spiraling out of control, but they're coming together as a team and stringing together wins. 

"It's more like urgency to get going in the right direction," Colliton said on whether he personally felt pressure after their slow start. "We like our team, we like our players, just wasn't working. So as a coach and our staff and the players too, we have a responsibility to turn over every rock. It doesn't mean going back and forth and zigzagging with what we want to do, but I think the guys have really done a good job of responding to adversity, and now we're on a run."

Having gone through the adversity this early in the season, the Blackhawks will be better for it in the long run knowing they can overcome whatever challenges are thrown at them along the way, as long as they continue playing the right way. Because if they do, the Blackhawks will give themselves a chance to win on a nightly basis, especially with the offense being unleashed and Corey Crawford and Robin Lehner serving as the last line of defense.

"We've had a great team, but we just had a little rough start at the beginning," Alex Nylander said. "We're coming together now and we're creating chances and we're shooting the puck more, so we've been doing a really good job the past couple games and we just need to keep going like this."

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