Blackhawks

Blackhawks' budget crunch: With inevitable moves looming, who could be leaving?

Blackhawks' budget crunch: With inevitable moves looming, who could be leaving?

Who goes?

It’s another offseason during which the Blackhawks face that question. The team has gone into the last few summers with salary cap issues and this one is no different. According to CapFriendly.com, the Blackhawks are currently more than $4.5 million over the 2016-17 cap of $73 million. Whether the 2017-18 cap stays stagnant, as the New York Post’s Larry Brooks reports it could, or goes up to as much as $77 million, the Blackhawks will have to part with a few players.

TSN reported last week that the Blackhawks could be sending Marcus Kruger and Trevor van Riemsdyk to the Vegas Golden Knights. Even with that, the Blackhawks will still have to shed more salary. So who are the possibilities? Here are a few, with what the Blackhawks could save and lose in the process.

Brent Seabrook

Seabrook enters the 2017-18 season in the second year of his current eight-year contract that carries a cap hit of $6.875 million. He also carries a full no-movement clause. Obviously trading Seabrook and his contract would be great for the Blackhawks’ bottom line, but how feasible is it? I’ve used the Brian Campbell example before – he waived his no-trade clause to join the Florida Panthers in the 2011 offseason – but is this the same situation? Campbell had five years left on his deal at the time and the Panthers needed to hit the cap floor. Is there a team out there willing to take the Seabrook contract, or even a portion of it? And if there is, it’s up to Seabrook whether or not he’d OK the move. Also hurting the potential is that the 32-year-old Seabrook is coming off a mediocre season.

What would be lost: Seabrook may not be the most talkative Blackhawks player publicly but he’s a very vocal leader for the team. Players will tell you he’s the one who’s talking most in the locker room. We all remember his penalty box pow-wow with Jonathan Toews in the 2013 postseason. And even though he wasn’t at his best last season his veteran presence on a blue line would be missed.

Artem Anisimov

Anisimov has given the Blackhawks stability at second-line center, an area that was a big question mark for them from 2011 until his signing in the 2015 offseason. He has four years remaining on his current contract ($4.55 million cap hit) and you would think, given his recent work, that other teams would be interested in him. But once again here’s another no-movement clause for a guy who looks like he’s pretty happy in Chicago.

What would be lost: Anisimov is a great net-front presence and, with Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin, has formed the most consistent and successful line in the Blackhawks’ past two seasons. Could someone else center that line? Maybe, but rekindling the chemistry that’s currently there wouldn’t be easy. That, and his trade would mean the return of the once-endless “Hawks need a second-line center” demands on Twitter. Oh goodie.

Marian Hossa

Another full no-movement clause to contend with but you’re getting that’s a recurring theme with this team. So back to the reasons why Hossa would be attractive to others: he had a rebound season in 2016-17, recording 26 goals and 19 assists. A true professional with work ethic to match, he’d be a good add to a young team that could use a seasoned veteran with a few Cups on the résumé. The cap hit, though, is still a tough one ($5.275 million through 2020-21).

What would be lost: Even when Hossa’s offense had dried up in the 2015-16 season, his defensive work is still tremendous. Our running joke is to point out the poor teammate who has to go up against him in battle drills. Sure, the Blackhawks would save money (that’s the whole point of any of these scenarios) but they would lose a right wing who is still strong and still capable of putting together solid seasons.

Niklas Hjalmarsson

Yes, I know, you all don’t want to even think about this. The Blackhawks probably don’t either. The reason you have to entertain it is it’s possible. As opposed to many of his teammates who have full no-movement clauses, Hjalmarsson has a modified one. So there’s more leeway there. Also, when Hjalmarsson signed his latest contract in the summer of 2013, he didn’t take much of a raise and his $4.1 million cap hit (which the Blackhawks would have for two more seasons) is very welcoming. Well, that and his play, which brings us to…

What would be lost: Oh, plenty. Hjalmarsson has been a steady performer for several seasons now and, despite his brutal shot-blocking responsibilities he’s missed little time due to injury. He would be a tremendous acquisition for a lot of teams but his loss to the Blackhawks would be very tough to replace.

Artemi Panarin

OK, I can see your eyes widening at this one. The Blackhawks get this fantastic left wing who can score (30 goals in 2015-16, 31 last season) and they could possibly give him up? Like it or not, it could be an option. The Blackhawks got Panarin to agree to a great deal for them (two years and a $6 million cap hit that kicks in this season). But that deal is also going to be attractive to other teams. It’s short, it’s not going to hurt anyone’s budget and it doesn’t have that pesky no-movement clause. Hey, you have to look at the potential of this because of the Blackhawks’ financial situation. They don’t have a whole lot of power here.

What would be lost: There goes a 30-goal scorer, one of your friendlier deals and the one Blackhawks line that’s been steady. Yeah, this cost-saving move would be very costly.

Patrick Kane’s love-hate relationship with St. Louis fans highlight of 2020 NHL All-Star Game

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USA Today

Patrick Kane’s love-hate relationship with St. Louis fans highlight of 2020 NHL All-Star Game

ST. LOUIS — Patrick Kane has been booed all weekend in St. Louis and the nine-time Blackhawks All-Star poked a little bit of fun at Blues fans for their, shall we say, warm welcoming. But Saturday put the crowd in a weird spot.

On one hand, Kane is an arch rival in St. Louis. On the other, he represented the Central Division and was teammates with the four Blues All-Stars (Jordan Binnington, Ryan O'Reilly, David Perron and Alex Pietrangelo).

After falling into a 3-0 hole to the Pacific Division, the Central Division stormed back for three straight goals. Perron scored the second goal, which drew huge cheers. Fourteen seconds later, Kane scored the equalizer, which also drew loud cheers. 

But then the St. Louis fans realized who had scored and Kane had some fun with them by holding his glove up to his ear. 

"Tried to like put my hand up to my ear to hear the boos," Kane said. "But then I was showing them that hey, I’m playing with the Blues players, I’ve got the same jersey as them. Just had fun with it. "

The Blues found themselves conflicted for a second time when Kane evened the score at 5-5 after converting on a breakaway. The interaction between Kane and the crowd was the most memorable moment of the night.

"It’s all in good fun," Kane said following a 10-5 loss to the Pacific Division. "To be honest with you, sometimes you get booed, you kind of like it a little bit. It’s St. Louis and Chicago, it’s a huge rivalry. Not only in hockey, but pretty much every other sport they play against each other. I guess that’s only baseball, but, you know what? Had a lot of fun this weekend and I thought that was a pretty cool moment."

Even the Blues had fun with it.

"Those were boos," a smiling Pietrangelo said. "Not cheers."

But at least somebody had sympathy for Kane.

"I felt bad for Kaner," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "He comes out in his introductions and is getting booed and stuff and then he scores and they're cheering for him. Tough situation for him. Players all know. They all handle it very well. It's a fun event."

In the end, it provided entertainment and brought some life to the event. What Kane is really trying to figure out is why he's snake bitten at All-Stars Games. He hasn't won since 2012 in Ottawa when Team Zdeno Chara defeated Team Daniel Alfredsson 12-9 under the fantasy draft format.

"I know, right?" Kane said. "Central can’t get over the hump. We won one last year and lost in the final. I think every time you look at the roster, you always think you have a really good roster with some of the players that are on the team, and for whatever reason we can’t do it."

The Central Division slipped to 1-5 under the 3-on-3 format, but Kane may have a solution on how to fix their struggles.

"Maybe it would be better if the Central played an Eastern team next year or something," Kane said half-jokingly. "Maybe you could switch it up that way."

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Patrick Kane finishes NHL All-Star Tournament with two goals

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AP

Patrick Kane finishes NHL All-Star Tournament with two goals

Patrick Kane made his ninth NHL All-Star appearance in Saturday's 3-on-3 tournament in St. Louis. It was short-lived, but the superstar forward scored two impressive goals for the Central Division's team before they were eliminated after one game. 

The 31-year-old winger won the inaugural "Shooting Stars" challenge in the Skills Competition on Friday, beating the Blues' Ryan O'Reilly and Maple Leafs' Mitch Marner in sudden death. 

Then, the three-time Stanley Cup champ scored to tie the game 3-3 at 7:18 of the first period for the Central in the semifinal bout against the Pacific on Saturday. Kane kept the puck on a 2-on-1 with Eric Staal and fired it in stick side on goalie Jacob Markstrom. 

He later scored on a breakaway, shooting five-hole on David Rittich to tie it 5-5 at 1:37 of the second period. The Central lost the contest 10-5 and missed out on winning the million dollar prize. 

Kane, who recorded his 1,000th NHL point last Sunday, had four hometown Blues players as teammates: Jordan Binnington, David Perron, Alex Pietrangelo and O'Reilly.

The Atlantic beat the Metropolitan 9-5 in the first semifinal game. Former Blackhawks forward Anthony Duclair had three goals and an assist in the first game of the tourney. Duclair has 33 points (21 goals, 12 assists) in 47 games with the Ottawa Senators this season.

The Pacific beat the Atlantic 5-4 in the final. It was the Pacific's third straight tournament victory. David Pastrnak of the Atlantic (and Boston Bruins) was the MVP of the tournament, winning a 2020 Honda CR-V HYRBRID. 

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.