Digging Up

Now that Daydream Nation is firmly secured in Chicago until the next lockout and one of them has to be bought out after to get under the $12 salary cap Bettman instills to end that dispute, Stan can start figuring out just how he’s going to put next year’s team together.

What’s that you say? This year’s team is still over the cap? Why yes, it is. But we’ve been down this road a few times already, and the answers to get under this cap are known to everyone. It’s a punting of Oduya, or Sharp, or Rozsival, or Seabrook, or Versteeg (that would be a miracle) or some combination thereof.

It’s next year where some of the challenges lie. But is it that bad? Let’s look, yes?

As you probably know, the Hawks have 15 guys signed for the ’15-’16 season for $65.7 million. Enough people have said that the new Canadian TV deal will bump next year’s cap to $75 million or so to believe that will be the case, so we’ll go with that figure for this exercise.

That 15 figure though isn’t totally correct. It doesn’t include Stephen Johns, who is likely to be on the team this year and almost certainly will be next year unless something unforeseen happens. So that’s 16 with Johns’s $800K entry deal on there, bringing the Hawks to $66.5 million on the cap.

Of the free agents, we know Rozsival and Oduya won’t be here, Regin probably not, which leaves a re-signing of Kruger, Saad, and Leddy. I don’t think it’s going on to too much of a ledge to say all three will be back. Saad a certainty, Kruger very likely, and Leddy also very likely. All three are restricted. It’s hard to picture Leddy getting that much more than the $2.7 he gets now. Let’s assume a big year this year, especially if he’s getting second pairing minutes after an Oduya Launching (try the oysters at Oduya Launching). So another bridge deal at $3.3 per for two years? Let’s go with that. Now we’re at 17 players (and five d-men with Johns) and $69.8 million.

Kruger’s a little harder to figure out. Because to figure out Kruger’s value you can’t really look at scoring, and so it depends on what the number value of the other things like defensive play, penalty killing, and faceoffs is. But it’s hard to see him getting too much of a raise from his current $1.3 million. He’s only 24, so he could move on from the 28 points or so he’s given the Hawks in his two full seasons (he was on pace for about 25 in the shortened season). But how much really? Let’s give him $1.7 million in his next contract. You could easily see $2 mildo, but unless someone is going to silly offer-sheet him $3 million per he doesn’t have a lot of leverage. We’ve got 18 in now at $71.5 million.

Saad is the issue. On a totally open market you could easily see Saad getting $5 or even $6 million per. But it’s not, as he’s restricted. Let’s look around for some comps.

The first one you think of is Kyle Okposo, because they’re almost the same player (Okposo is a little faster). Okposo’s AAV is $2.8 million. His five-year deal escalates every year, so in salary he makes $3.5 this year and $4.5 next. It was signed before the lockout, so that sort of escalating deal isn’t as easy to pull off, but that 2.8 figure seems about right on the low end.

Evander Kane got 5.25 per, though he was coming off a 30-goal season (which one easily could see Saad producing this year). James Van Riemsdyk got 4.2 after his entry-level deal, and he and Saad’s numbers their first two years are pretty similar. I’m going to split the difference here and say Stan finds a way to get Saad in at $3.5 per on another bridge deal. That puts the Hawks at 19, right at that $75 million figure.

So yeah, there are issues here, which means someone entrenched is going to have to go. That’s why you’ve been hearing Sharp’s name, and why you may hear Seabrook’s name later, or maybe this is when you start to hear the whispers of “Gee, Hossa’s back is really starting to act up” and some LTIR shenanigans being produced.

If Sharp were launched, the Hawks would have 18 players in at $69.1 million. So they’d have to sign about five guys or so with almost $6 million to play with. That also assumes that no kids will make the leap for ’15-’16, and we shouldn’t do that. The most likely are McNeill as a forward and Dahlbeck as a d-man (Dahlbeck may even get a look this season). I also haven’t included Rundblad, who isn’t likely to get much more than his 750K he’s getting this year if he’s brought back at all. McNeill, Dahlbeck, and Rundblad would come in about about 2.5 million combined, leaving the Hawks at 21 players at $71.6 million. Throw a mixture of Clendening, Ross, Hartman, whoever else on the Rockford shuffle, but the Hawks would have room for one mid-level signing under these circumstances.

There are some cartwheels to be pulled here, and we can’t predict who will break out in Rockford or below that or how next year’s draft might unfold. But it’s doable.


  • lizmcneill

    You might be a little low on the Leddy and Kruger estimates, as they are on bridge deals at the minute and this would be their 3rd deal.

    The Blues just offered Sobotka, who has a similar role as Kruger with a little more offense, 3×3, and he bailed to go to the KHL.

    • SamFels

      I probably am, but Stan has show some skill on getting these RFA deals on the low end. Sobotka is a decent comp, but I’m not giving Kruger 3 million when Danault will probably be able to do what he does in two or three years

      • lizmcneill

        Hopefully you’re right. Seems to me that the plan is to keep Kruger for a couple more years to allow Danault to come up and grow into his role the way he grew into Bolland’s.

        • raditzzzz

          the plan all along, all along?

        • TitanTransistor

          I think Kruger is more valuable to the Hawks than some give credit.

          That’s not exclusive to the Hawks though… I think the salary cap has turned the bottom 6 into something of a ‘grey area’ as far as value.

          IMO, the way the Hawks bring youth up into the NHL makes Kruger a necessity. They start on the 4th line, and as Q gets comfortable with them, they get more significant minutes and assignments.

          The only way that works without turning your 4th line into a train-wreck of baby-hawks making mistakes and getting 5 minutes of ice time a night, is if there’s a stabilizing force there to get the best out of them and guide them a bit.

          Kruger is that guy. He went from the young’in in 2013, to the veteran in 2014, and the line barely saw much of a drop-off in the regular season…. and when it did drop off in the playoffs, he was upgraded to the 3rd line along with Smith.

          If we’re expecting some young guys to fill out the bottom six, then we need some experienced, proven players to play along-side them.

          ‘High end bottom-liner’ may seen like an oxymoron, but I think Kruger fits the bill and has value.

          • jordyhawk

            Solid assessment on Kruger (our very own Rodney Dangerfield). How Danault after a lackluster first year as a pro (and even falling behind Nordy on the org chart) is assumed to be able to seamlessly replace Kruger who now rates as one of top 4th line centers in the league is a huge leap.

          • lizmcneill

            Kruger’s been the 3C for a while now. He has the #2 defensive responsibility, his ES ice time is almost as much as Shaw’s, and Q sends him out second or third in the rotation, with no skipped shifts, unlike the Doghouse line.

          • jordyhawk

            He was 3C in the playoffs and when Q shortens the bench. He will go back to 4C when the regular season starts.

          • lizmcneill

            That was in the regular season.

          • Bannerman

            Did Denault really fall behind Nordstrom or was the plan to let Denault play and develop while Nordstrom got scratched or played sparingly with the Hawks?

            Denault was told to model his game after Kruger’s. Was his season lackluster or was he focused on defense at the expense of scoring?

            Finally, Nordstrom isn’t really a center or he didn’t much look like one.

      • 334Rules

        He’s been doing a good job of selling guys on the up-side of playing with a perennial winner and making a little less, than getting a little more (when in either case they’re being quite well paid) and getting your ass handed to you every night.

    • The Nutbrown Hare

      Would they let a Swede play in the KHL?!?

  • hawkfacts

    Spot on Sam. Sharp (even if he produces) will go next year but if Saad and Teravainen step up, the output should be a wash to this past year. (120 pts between them in 2015-16 doesn’t seem like a stretch) That will give the Hawks an option on what to do with Seabrook in 2 years and where the young d-men stand as players

  • TitanTransistor

    Sorry Sam. I know you love yourself some Leddy, but I just don’t see him sticking around.

    Q has shown absolutely no trust, let alone intention of putting Leddy in a legit 4D spot. And to be honest, even as somebody that questions a lot of Q’s decisions, Leddy hasn’t done much in an extremely sheltered 3rd pairing role to show he’s ready for the tougher minutes. His development looks to have plateaued at ‘small, speedy depth D’.

    I could totally see Stan moving Leddy either this season or next, depending on what happens with Roszi. They keep the steady top 4 we have, and create a space on the sheltered bottom pair for a new guy (Johns, Clendening, etc) to get his feet wet in the NHL.

    Rundblad’s presence is a pretty big deal too, as Stan apparently wanted him for awhile before finally getting him, so I could see him replacing Roszi, or Leddy on the bottom pair next season, and potentially moving up alongside Hammer in 2015.

    No matter what happens, 2015 is going to be painful. I think we’re looking at a wild-card spot and first-round exit, but that will be the low point and it will be a pretty strong upward trajectory from there.

    • 334Rules

      Leddy is the prototype offensive D-man. He’s always gonna have to be paired with a solid stay-home guy, but the movement he can bring you out of his own zone is something very few player possess, and on the PP, he’s a one-man entry machine. That Q doesn’t seem to care much for him doesn’t diminish his objective value,

      • lizmcneill

        And the “Rundblad can replace Leddy” thing…..Rundblad has all Leddy’s faults and then some.

        • TitanTransistor

          And what percentage of his cap hit?

        • jordyhawk

          Perhaps though Runblad might be able to learn to handle the heavy going, whereas with Leddy I doubt that ever happens. We should at least find out.

          • YoAdrienne

            Rundblad has only played in a couple of games. I think going through a training camp with this team will give a better idea of how badly his previous teams screwed him up, and whether or not any of it can be fixed. I agree that we don’t really know of his full capabilities yet. Hopefully, he’s still salvageable. Stan and Q seem to think so, as they have not yet jettisoned him.

      • TitanTransistor

        I agree with much of what you’ve said, but all those upsides are meaningless if the coach won’t play him outside sheltered 3rd line minutes, and I see Leddy leaving this team a lot sooner than Q.

        Also, there’s the problem with Leddy’s downsides, which are that despite his speed through the neutral zone, he’s shown zero offensive creativity in the offensive zone. Usually he gets there and looks like he has no idea what to do next. He’s also terrible under a heavy forecheck in his own zone.

        Q barely even plays him in meaningful playoff games. That says more than anything about his perceived worth by the coaching staff.

        • ClusterPuck

          I think what we all forget is that when Leddy first stepped on the Ice for the Hawks in 2010, he had 30 gopher games under his belt and was a calender year out of High School. Contrast to a DK who had 3 years of Jrs, 1.5 season at MSU and 2 fulls seasons in Norfolk. The kid has had to cut his teeth in the NHL which was not the best for his development.

          I shake my head on every offensive break he has to only watch him end up behind the goal line without a plan. But the goal on Quick to me was a glimpse of what he will do on a given night once he matures.

          He is a Stanbo guy, so I hope and believe he gets more years here and then one day I hope we can rosenbloom all of you he wanted him gone. 🙂

  • krome

    This is just like 2010 again! We can spend the whole season anguishing over the coming Capocalypse.
    Good thing we don’t have a highly paid veteran goalie whom some disrespect and a potentially good young goalie with a low salary to give us a nasty and endless goalie debate if the vet stumbles and the kid plays well … oh, wait … never mind.

    • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

      No, it will not be 2010. We were still saddled with ridiculous contracts to Soupy (whom I miss) and Huet (whom no one misses). It will be a bit of a crunch, but not too bad, and nothing like 2010.

  • cthrek

    In regards to Hossa going on the LTIR at some point in the future, I just can’t see Bettman allowing that to occur.

    The CBA explicitly states (in section 16.11.f, for those who want to doublecheck) that the Commisioner has the right to investigate a player being placed or remaining on the injured reserve, and that if it’s found to be circumventing some other part of the CBA (like the cap recapture penalty) then he can take whatever disciplinary action against the club that he deems appropriate.

    Given that there are only a handful of contracts that the cap recapture clause is targetted at, Hossa’s being one of them, I just really can’t see Bettman allowing one of those players be put on the LTIR.

    • The Hawks and Hossa have plausible deniability with his history of multiple concussions, one of them being fairly high profile.

      • lizmcneill

        I don’t think it’ll happen to get us under the 2015 cap. He doesn’t seem like he’s ready to hang them up yet.

        • Any thoughts of any kind of Hossa buyout/trade (with recapture penalty nightmares) or LTIR subterfuge is ludicrous for at least the next 3-4 seasons barring an actual catastrophic injury. It’s not worth entertaining.

          • lizmcneill


      • cthrek

        Very true, but I still suspect that Bettman will make the Hawks pay the cap recapture penalty. Especially if the timing of him going on LTIR is anywhere around the point where his salary drops to $1M/yr.

    • ClusterPuck

      Just like he is investigating Chris Pronger??? The only question about Hossa and LTIR is not the IF but the WHEN. It’s Kevin Costner trapped in the Pentagon!

    • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

      Barring a legit injury, as in Pronger’s case.

    • HawkIPA

      Given that Hossa continues to play at a high level at age 35, I don’t think this needs to be a concern of ours for at least 4 more seasons. At that point, he still might be useful in a Teemu-type role and finish out his deal.

  • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

    Could see Sharp, Leddy, Seabs, or Bicks going, and can’t help but wonder if it won’t happen at trade deadline time next spring.

    • lizmcneill

      Why would a contender unload at the deadline?

      • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

        Depends on what we need. If the D prospects are going well, trade a F, if the F prospects are going well, trade a D man. What will we need? Who knows? But options are nice.

    • TitanTransistor

      I can’t imagine anybody other than Roszi, Leddy or Versteeg going at trade deadline.

      We’re all in for next year. Last chance with the current core and depth for a crack at the ‘dynasty’ tag.

    • JustSaying15

      None of the “Stanley Cup Core” will be gone to next year. No reason yet to move them. After next year I think two will be gone.

    • Cluster_Puck

      To me Sharp’s production to AAV is a bargain. To let him go is too much of a gamble on the youngsters and Q would just replace his minutes with someone who would drive us bonkers.

      To move seabs and that 5.8. That doesn’t just fix the cap, it give you room to make a deal at deadline time.

      • lizmcneill

        It’s probably easier to replace 60-70 points by committee than it is to replace a top-pair dman by committee.

    • HawkIPA

      I doubt it happens then. I don’t think Stan is going to want to make his team worse before the playoffs. I think it’ll happen before the season starts, or after next season.

  • Oldfarthawkfan

    Pretty indepth analysis of the Toews and Kane contracts.. I also happen to agree with the analysis.


  • Research Analysis

    The cap should grow even more than people think. The Rogers deal was followed by a Senators regional deal and Canadiens deal for ‘local’ games that were through the roof. All told, the new annual revenues will exceed $300 million, maybe $400 million, so the cap could increase majorly:

    Stan is paying Toews and Kane handsomely but 3-4 years from now, it will be a bargain IMO.

  • Oldfarthawkfan

    Oduya goes before Leddy. Leddy is a Stanbo guy. Looks like Stanbo so far this year is telling Q, that he will decide what players Q will coach this year

    • ClusterPuck

      Was it just me but when Handzus and Bollig went all I could think of was the scene in moneyball when Beane traded Pena and Giambi and told Howe, you can’t play Pena tonight.

      • Brain Sprain

        I thought the exact same thing.

    • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

      Also… age…

    • Jalamanta

      How is Oduya not a StanBo guy?

  • hauss

    What of Drew LeBlac and his one-way $600k?

    • Oldfarthawkfan

      He ended up being 4th line in Rockford, hopefully he can improve upon that status in Rockford this year

      • hauss

        Why have $600k in an already tight cap sit in Rockford?

        • ruinedhnic

          The first $925,000 of a one-way contract can be buried in the AHL. Unless I’m misunderstanding things, he’ll get his money but it won’t factor into the cap.

        • birdhead

          That contract is below $925k so it does not count against the cap.