Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Chicago Situation - What's an Eltdown?

Much has been written about the fact that the Chicago Blackhawks have to move salary next season. We are not sure that people recognize the magnitude of the salaries the Blackhawks have to move. Here is our view of the Chicago situation, with estimated salaries in green:

That's 66.5 million dollars to 20 players. Let's get rid of Brent Sopel, making it 64.2 million dollars to 19 players. If the salary cap stays the same at 56.8 million dollars, that's 7.6 million dollars' worth of salary the Hawks have to excise.

Important thing to remember: Just deleting salaries doesn't make any sense, since the Hawks have to fill them in with at least a league minimum player.

One scenario

Subtract Dustin Byfuglien (2,500,000)
Subtract Cam Barker (2,580,000)
Subtract Andrew Ladd (1,400,000)
Subtract Tomas Kopecky (700,000)
Total Subtracted $7.18 M

Yet we are still short here, even if we assume that all of these players are replaced by players making the league minimum. We think more drastic measures will have to be taken, these involving Brian Campbell or Cristobal Huet.

Who Might Want Either of These Players? For all of the talk about how poor Campbell has been, and his 7.1 million dollar salary is an albatross, he still provides a solid power play quarterback and is not particularly terrible at even strength. Regardless, there are few places that could just stick him on to their team with no repercussions. One such place is Anaheim, who may be losing their big minutes man Scott Niedermayer. Other places could emerge (e.g. Minnesota) depending on how this summer's free agency shakes out.

Cristobal Huet makes too much money, but there's one born every minute with goaltenders - teams like St. Louis, San Jose, and Washington may be interested in adding a goaltender like Huet.

Another Scenario

Repeat above
Add Patrick Sharp (3.9 M)
Total (14.1M)

Let's see what that team looks like:




The Blackhawks would have 6.7 million dollars to fill 7 holes. Let us add these players:

LW Kyle Beach (875K)
D Jordan Hendry (600K)

This leaves us with 5.225 million to fill 5 holes. If we can add two players at league minimum salary, we're left with 4.225 million to fill 3 holes - plenty of money, and very likely the Hawks would have acquired these players in their trades to get rid of 4 bona fide NHL players. However, it's a team very light on depth - two injuries to top players and this team is a wasteland. We think the Hawks will have to move or bury Campbell or Huet in order to maintain competitive, with Brian Campbell tops on the list. We think it's possible that someone would acquire him on regular waivers, and we think it's possible that Chicago would intentionally expose him to re-entry waivers; doing so would allow them to keep one of Byfuglien, Versteeg, or Barker.


Chicago likely has to somehow dispose of Brian Campbell or Cristobal Huet in order to save enough money under the cap to retain some depth on their third line. Unless the salary cap goes up, it's going to be a skeleton crew all season long, and it's unclear when Chicago will get relief.


  1. interesting - can't see the devils getting anything out of a potential firesale

  2. no, i don't think so. if andy greene hadn't emerged as a possible PP QB, i could see a scenario where the devils get brian campbell, but now i don't see that happening.