The cap is expected to go down significantly after a CBA is agreed upon; from $70 million to $60 million.
Teams will have one season to make these changes until the hard cap of $60 million is set in place. According to CapGeek.com, approximately 16 teams are over that cap when heading into the 2013-14 season, including the Blackhawks.
Who will be on the chopping block for the Blackhawks?
Still feeling the effects of losing nine players after their Stanley Cup win, the Blackhawks may have to tough it out and do what's best for the team. Star players such as Dave Bolland and Marian Hossa will be looked upon for their tremendous cap hits. Smaller role players such as Michael Frolik and Viktor Stalberg will also be looked upon to improve their play.
Some key decisions are ahead for general manager Stan Bowman. These are the top 5 players that could be gone by a year from now:
The 25-year-old Blackhawks defenseman has been lacking in recent years.
Niklas Hjalmarsson was re-signed after the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, a move that is still criticized because of his contract.
Hjalmarsson's cap hit stands at $3.5 million and is on the books for another two seasons with the Blackhawks.
Hjalmarsson's time may be up before he becomes an unrestricted free agent in the 2014-15 season.
For the money that Hjalmarsson makes per season, he has failed to be the defenseman that Bowman paid him to be. Still a shot-blocking presence on the back end, the Blackhawks expect Hjalmarsson to pitch in a little more on the offensive side of things.
When crunch time does come, the Blackhawks might trade away Hjalmarsson for a less expensive player that is effective on the penalty kill.
Michael Frolik came to the Blackhawks with the opportunity to share his offensive talents with a very skilled NHL squad.
But since his welcoming, Frolik has been a bust, failing to put any significant numbers on the board. Worse, his size has become a huge disadvantage when trying to dangle around skilled defenseman. Frolik just can't do it.
With a cap hit of $2.3 million, Frolik will surely be on the chopping block come next season. Way too much cap space is being used on what could become a healthy scratch for a good portion of the season.
Frolik's contract is set to expire in two seasons, when he will become a restricted free agent. But the 'Hawks cannot wait that long to get rid of the cap hit.
Expect Frolik to be gone as soon as general manager Stan Bowman can put together a fair deal.
Goaltender Corey Crawford will be on the hot seat once play resume for the Chicago Blackhawks. The inconsistent goalie will have a lot on his plate in order to prove that he belongs in a starting position in the NHL.
A cap hit of $2.6 million may hamper any breathing room that Crawford is looking for as the Blackhawks will be shopping around come next season.
Crawford is on the books for another two seasons, with his contract expiring in the 2014. If he doesn't play up to par in the upcoming seasons the Blackhawks will look to put Ray Emery in the starting role.
Regardless, Crawford has to get his game together. Otherwise the Blackhawks will have to move on.
The speedy Viktor Stalberg is trying to make a bigger name for himself on the Blackhawks roster.
While the winger is capable of putting up big points and dancing around defenseman, Stalberg lacks consistency in his game.
Stalberg's cap hit stands at $875,000, which isn't too much for the services that he provides. But considering that his contract is up next season, the Blackhawks may have to think twice before re-signing him.
Stalberg will be due a significant raise if he is re-signed; somewhere around the $1 million mark.
If that is the case, the Blackhawks may let Stalberg go into free agency and try to replace him with a talented prospect—say Brandon Saad.
Defenseman Michal Rozsival just rolled into town this offseason.
A former Phoenix Coyotes defenseman that helped his team reach the Western Conference Finals, Rozsival was brought in by general manager Stan Bowman to add depth to the Blackhawks' blue line.
He's a good defensive pickup, but Rozsival's cap hit is $2 million, a contract that also includes a no-trade clause.
While he only has one year left on the contract, the Blackhawks may just use him for the one year. Depending on how he performs, he may be re-signed for a much lower cap hit or just leave for free agency.
Regardless of how it plays out, Rozsival will most likely only be in a Blackhawks' jersey for half a season.
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