The Chicago Blackhawks chase to the salary cap floor was eased with the acquisition of Taylor Hall and Nick Foligno Monday afternoon. Though Hall is locked up for another couple of seasons, Foligno is an unrestricted free agent. It’s likely he gets a one-year deal at a slight discount from the $3.8M cap hit he had with Boston.
But that signing, if it does happen, will be in line with what general manager Kyle Davidson has been doing since taking over. The deals remain on the short end, nothing blowing past two years which will lead to an absolute windfall in terms of cap space once the Chicago Blackhawks are ready to really crack open the contention window.
This isn’t a contract-by-contract examination. CapFriendly lays it out beautifully in a more visually friendly fashion. But this is looking more at the why behind what is being done.
Here’s a look at where things stand.
Blackhawks Likely To Move On From Most Needing a Contract
Both Alec Regula and Ian Mitchell were restricted free agents who are now negotiating with the Boston Bruins. Problem solved there. But the likes of Anders Bjork, and Alex Stalock, according to reports, are likely not coming back. Longtime captain Jonathan Toews is for sure gone. But aside from the other handful of Blackhawks (five in total including Caleb Jones and Philipp Kurashev), there are holes to fill via either trade or free agency. Cap space is aplenty, too.
But here’s the real interesting part: there are only four Blackhawks currently on the roster signed beyond 2023-24. Those players are Seth Jones, Andreas Athanasiou, Taylor Hall and Connor Murphy. The collective cap hit? 24.15M. That’s nearly 30% of the cap. But both Hall and Athanasiou fall off at the conclusion of 2024-25. Murphy’s final season is 2025-26.
Those are only the current roster players. Extending it out, Arvid Soderblom would also have a year remaining on his deal, too.
The Hawks will have some room to really take care of business during that 2025-26 offseason, which will also be when Bedard’s new deal likely kicks in.
Once again, it’s building around him both on the roster and with the cap.
The Big Picture in All of It
The acquisition of Hall and Foligno is to do what I wrote about yesterday–providing stable veteran leadership that can produce strong results beyond the scoresheet. Davidson has been strict when pen is put to paper and kept deals short across the board. It’s his predecessor who signed the longer deals with Jones and Murphy–but in fairness–that was also a different mindset. Davidson did an about face and is keeping in line with his philosophy of patience, financial flexibility, and responsibility.
Beyond that, it will allow Davidson to get creative in taking contracts from other teams or perhaps taking impact players off other organization’s hands when they’re backed into a cap crunch. Boston is clearly maneuvering for something else and the Blackhawks were more than happy to offset it by flipping two players who weren’t going to fit into the picture. Chicago is also flush with defensemen in the pipeline.
Though I advocated for another season with Mitchell, the Blackhawks were clearly done. Regula was at best a seventh defenseman in Chicago so his time was limited as well.
This next season then will likely see the addition of short term deals for players who will either audition for larger roles or experienced veterans who can help guide Chicago back to days of contention.
So for Blackhawks fans wondering what’s going on, it all makes perfect sense from Davidson’s point of view. Short-term deals where the financials truly don’t matter. It’s about putting Chicago in a fortuitous position when it’s time to pay the young and growing core and still having enough room to have the perfect pieces around them.
What’s important is that Bedard gets what he needs to help push Chicago back to the top of the league.
Davidson is doing his damndest to make sure that he–and the rest of the eventual core–get a good head start.