Getty Images

Blackhawks can use cap space in quest to return to playoffs

12 Comments

CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Blackhawks enjoy an uncustomary luxury with space under the NHL’s $79.5 million salary cap.

So general manager Stan Bowman hinted Saturday on the second day of the team’s annual convention he could be in the market for a veteran player who might help the Blackhawks return to the playoffs.

Chicago’s roster is built on big-name stars including Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Corey Crawford who are locked into hefty long-term contracts. Those deals usually have forced Bowman to scramble to get his team under the cap.

But this year, the Blackhawks have between $5.5 million and $6.5 million of wiggle room according salary cap tracking websites CapFriendly.com and spotrac.com.

”This is the first year that I can remember where we’ve had this much cap room,” Bowman said. ”We have a bit more flexibility than we have had in the past.”

Most of that space opened when Bowman traded Marian Hossa and his $5,275,000 cap hit to Arizona earlier this month. The 39-year-old forward didn’t play last season because of severe side effects from medication to treat a progressive skin disorder. Hossa isn’t expected to play again, but he’s signed through the 2020-21 season.

Bowman didn’t mention players he might pursue, but he did specify a scenario.

Another team might have a young player who surprises with terrific training camp, earns a roster spot and makes an impact. As a result, that team might want to unload a veteran.

”If you want to get in the game there, you have to be under the cap and have some breathing room to add a player,” Bowman said. ”I’m not sure if that will materialize. It might, so that’s something that’s different for this upcoming season.”

The Blackhawks missed the playoffs last spring for the first time after qualifying for nine straight seasons and winning three Stanley Cup during that run. Team president John McDonough emphasized on Saturday that missing the postseason again is not acceptable.

Moreover, he expects the Blackhawks to bounce back and cement their place as an elite franchise over the long term.

”What we target every year is the Stanley Cup Final,” McDonough said. ”We were off the map for a pretty long period of time.

”The Blackhawks are not necessarily going to be measured in three-to-five year increments, or three Cups in eight or nine years, but we’re going to be measured in decades and decades.

”We want to keep moving forward as an organization.”

Beyond immediate help from three free agents signed earlier this month – goalie Cam Ward, defenseman Brandon Manning forward Chris Kunitz – Bowman expects young prospects to blossom and lift his team this season.

Bowman projects more output from speedy 22-year-old center Nick Schmaltz and 20-year-old winger Alex DeBrincat, both of whom the GM said just scratched surface in 2017-18. Schmaltz had 21 goals and 31 assists in his second NHL season. DeBrincat had 28 goals and 52 points as rookie.

Bowman told fans he expects three Swedes who spent parts of the 2017-18 season in Chicago to make bigger contributions. Defensemen Gustav Forsling, 22, and Carl Dahlstrom, 23, should compete for regular jobs. He called out Victor Ejdsell, a 6-foot-5 center, as ”someone to look out for” because of his great scoring touch.

Bowman also predicted 23-year old center Luke Johnson, who spent the last two seasons at Rockford of the AHL, would play in Chicago at some point.

Predators’ Ryan Hartman suspended one game for illegal check to head

Getty
2 Comments

When the Nashville Predators attempt to close out their series against the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night they will be without forward Ryan Hartman.

The NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced on Thursday afternoon that Hartman has been suspended one game for an illegal check to the head of Avalanche forward Carl Soderberg during the Predators’ 3-2 win in Game 4 on Wednesday.

Here is the NHL’s explanation for the suspension.

He was given a two-minute minor penalty for charging on the play. It happened early in the third period.

It turned out to be a pretty eventful night for Hartman as he was also penalized in the second period for roughing and holding the stick during a sequence that saw him get speared by Avalanche forward Sven Andrighetto.

Andrighetto was given a roughing penalty during the sequence, but to this point has not received any supplemental discipline for the spearing incident.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

This is already the fourth suspension of the playoffs as Hartman joins Drew Doughty (one game), Nazem Kadri (three games), and Josh Morrissey (one game) as players to sit for at least one game.

There was only one suspension during the entire 2017 playoffs.

The Predators acquired Hartman at the trade deadline from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Victor Ejdsell, a first-round pick, and a fourth-round pick. In 78 games this season between the two teams he scored 11 goals to go with 20 assists. Three of those goals game as a member of the Predators. So far in the first-round series against Colorado he has scored one goal for the Predators.

Related: Avalanche to start Andrew Hammond in Game 5

————

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

WATCH LIVE: Chicago Blackhawks at St. Louis Blues

Getty Images
1 Comment

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 season continues on Wednesday night as the St. Louis Blues host the Chicago Blackhawks at 8 p.m. ET. You can watch the game online by clicking here.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

St. Louis Blues
Jaden SchwartzBrayden SchennVladimir Tarasenko
Patrik BerglundKyle BrodziakAlex Steen
Dmitrij JaskinVladimir SobotkaTage Thompson
Ivan BarbashevOskar SundqvistChris Thorburn

Joel EdmundsonAlex Pietrangelo
Vince DunnColton Parayko
Chris Butler – Roberto Bortuzzo

Starting goalie: Jake Allen

[NHL on NBCSN: Blues need to pick up valuable points against Blackhawks]

[WATCH LIVE – 8 P.M. ET]

Chicago Blackhawks
Brandon SaadNick SchmaltzPatrick Kane
Dylan SikuraVictor EjdsellAlex DeBrincat
Tomas JurcoArtem AnisimovAndreas Martinsen
Patrick SharpDavid KampfVincent Hinostroza

Duncan KeithBrent Seabrook
Erik GustafssonConnor Murphy
Jordan Oesterle – Blake Hillman

Starting goalie: J.F. Berube

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.