A look at possible off-season trade candidates for the Blackhawks, plus several potential US college free agents.
Possible Blackhawks trade bait.
THE BOSTON GLOBE: Fluto Shinzawa recently speculated the Chicago Blackhawks will have to move “a big piece” this summer to become salary-cap compliant for 2015-16. He notes defenseman Brent Seabrook has a year left on his contract and is eligible for UFA status in July 2016, but believes trading him would have the same devastating effect to the Blackhawks defense as moving Johnny Boychuk had upon the Boston Bruins blueline corps this season. He believes trading either Patrick Sharp or Bryan Bickell would be preferably to dealing away Seabrook.
NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman recently speculated over possible off-season moves by the Blackhawks. He also believes Sharp or Bickell will be moved before Seabrook, expecting the Blackhawks will try to re-sign him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It could take trading Sharp and Bickell (combined cap hit of $9.9 million) to free up sufficient cap space to re-sign Seabrook in 2016, but even that could prove a very expensive undertaking.
Remember, the Blackhawks still have to re-sign pending RFAs Brandon Saad ($765K base salary)and Marcus Kruger ($1.35 million cap hit), who are both due substantial raises. It wouldn’t surprise me if a rival club pitched an offer sheet to Saad.
Regardless, based on info from the now defunct CapGeek, the Blackhawks had nearly $65 million invested in just 14 players for next season. Even shedding Sharp and Bickell leaves them with roughly $55 million tied up in 12 players, assuming they don’t take back any salary. If the cap comes in at $71 million, that’s $16 million left to re-sign Saad and Kruger and to flesh out the rest of the roster with affordable depth players.
Seabrook, meanwhile, is earning a cap hit of $5.8 million. It could cost at least $7 million annually to re-sign him. The Blackhawks currently have over $51 million invested in just eight players for 2016-17. If they dump Sharp and Bickell that should decrease to nearly $41 million. Assuming the ‘Hawks get Saad and Kruger under contract for, say, a combined $5 million, that means over $46 million invested in just 8 players for 2016-17, with Seabrook due a big raise.
Potential US college free agents.
NBC SPORTS: Mike Halford cites reports from The Columbus Dispatch reporting it’s possible US college defenseman and Blue Jackets prospect Mike Reilly could become an unrestricted free agent this summer. The Blue Jackets remain hopeful of signing Reilly, who’s given little indication as to his plans.
NICHOLS ON HOCKEY: Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes “a lot of teams” could have interest in Reilly if he becomes a free agent. He notes Reilly’s father is a part-owner of the Minnesota Wild.
COURIERPOST: Dave Isaac lists defenseman Drew Brevig (Ohio State University), right wing Casey Bailey (Penn State), center Mike Vecchione (Union College), defenseman Kenny Morrison (Western Michigan) and goalie C.J. Motte (Ferris State) as possible college free-agent options for the Philadelphia Flyers to pursue this summer. These are players no longer eligible for the NHL draft.