10 bad contracts the Blackhawks could potentially acquire using LTIR space
With the ability to add up to $21 million more salary this season, the Hawks could weaponize their financial flexibility to gain assets in exchange for taking another team’s bad contract. Here are some possibilities.
Now that defenseman Brent Seabrook is on long-term injured reserve, the Blackhawks’ salary-cap outlook looks a lot better than it used to.
The Hawks could add another $21 million in salary this year with their LTIR space and probably will have quite a bit of space next season, too. (It becomes less clear after summer 2022, when Kirby Dach, Adam Boqvist, Dominik Kubalik, Connor Murphy and Philipp Kurashev will need new contracts.)
That means general manager Stan Bowman could take on another team’s bad contract and get paid in draft picks or prospects for doing so.
There are risks to that strategy, but it’s a possibility, especially with many teams around the NHL tight against the cap heading toward the trade deadline April 12.
Here are 10 potential options.
Canucks forward Loui Eriksson: Eriksson, 35, has a $6 million cap hit through 2022. It’s one of the worst contracts in the NHL and a big hindrance to the struggling Canucks, but the Hawks could absorb it. He has appeared in only six games this season.
Islanders forward Leo Komarov: Komarov, 34, has a $3 million cap hit through 2022. He has been in sharp decline since his Maple Leafs days, with only two assists in 14 games this season.
Islanders forward Andrew Ladd: Ladd, 35, has a $5.5 million cap hit through 2023. His contract is brutal. He has played in only 30 NHL games in the last three seasons and zero this season. The Hawks might not want to take on something this massive, but they would get paid handsomely if they did.
Oilers forward James Neal: Neal, 33, has a $5.75 million cap hit through 2023. He’s a prime buyout candidate, however, which would dilute his cap hit to $1.9 million through 2025. Unlike Eriksson and Komarov, Neal is still a decent bottom-six wing, but his contract remains an albatross.
Flames forward Derek Ryan: Ryan, 34, has a $3.1 million cap hit that expires this summer. He passed through waivers unclaimed this month and was assigned to the Flames’ taxi squad. If the Flames want to be buyers, the Hawks could get a late-round pick for absorbing Ryan.
Hurricanes defenseman Jake Gardiner: Gardiner, 30, has a $4.1 million cap hit through 2023. Like Ryan, Gardiner also passed through waivers unclaimed. He’s not that old and not a bad third-pairing defenseman, but the Hurricanes need to shed salary to re-sign Andrei Svechnikov and Dougie Hamilton this summer.
Capitals forward Richard Panik: Panik, 30, has a $2.75 million cap hit through 2023. The former Hawks forward is still playable, with eight points in 27 games, but the Capitals need to shed salary to re-sign Alex Ovechkin this summer.
Wild forward Victor Rask: Rask, 28, has a $4 million cap hit through 2022. Last fall, the Wild eagerly would have given up a draft pick to get rid of him. But Rask has revived his career a bit this season, so he’s no longer such an obvious candidate.
Jets forward Mathieu Perreault: Perreault, 33, has a $4.1 million cap hit that expires this summer. He’s a likely trade candidate, but because of his decent scoring rate (11 points in 27 games) and his status as an unrestricted free agent this summer, he might not be bad enough for the Jets to surrender an asset to get rid of him.
Bruins defenseman John Moore: Moore, 30, has a $2.75 million cap hit through 2023. He has dealt with numerous injuries this season. The Bruins are OK cap-wise right now, but if they want to add a big fish at the deadline, Moore could be jettisoned.