With rumors swirling of a flat cap for the 2017-18 NHL season, there are some teams feeling the crunch. However, there are no teams in a worse position than the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks currently have a cap hit of 77.5 million dollars for next season, meaning with a cap of 73 million dollars, they’re already significantly over.
Meanwhile the Calgary Flames have only committed 51.2 million dollars to next year’s roster, so there is a lot of room to maneuver.
There have been rumors out of Chicago that a core player will very likely be traded from the Blackhawks this offseason. After taking away the names that are unlikely to be traded such as Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane, the next name that makes the most sense is Niklas Hjalmarsson.
Hjalmarsson is 30 years old and will be for all of next season. He has two years left on his current contract that carries an annual cap hit of 4.1 million dollars. That would be a steal for any team looking for a top four defender.
He also carries a 10 team no trade list which gives the Blackhawks more flexibility with him then with other members of their core. Hjalmarsson has three Stanley Cups on his resume and would bring 128 games of playoff experience to a Flames team that is still lacking it.
Hjalmarsson is a left handed shot which would push T.J. Brodie to the right side where he has thrived in the past. Hjalmarsson also leans more on the defensive side of the game, so he could complement Brodie’s offensive capabilities well by providing a safety net when he jumps into the rush. Hjalmarsson set a career high in goals this season with five, and his career best points total is only 26.
What would a Trade Look Like?
Any deal that would be done would have to involve the Flames taking in a lot of salary and the Blackhawks taking in very little. This sets the Flames up well as they have a bit of a backlog of prospects ready to push towards the NHL level that could be good trade chips.
There’s also speculation that the Blackhawks could be looking to move up in the draft this year which means a pick swap between the teams would make sense.
The logistics of this trade surrounding the expansion draft make things tougher. Ideally for the Flames this deal would get done after the expansion draft so the Flames could stick with their 7-3-1 protection scheme. Chiacgo would probably prefer it to be done before the draft so they could protect Trevor van Riemsdyk in Hjalmarsson’s place.
The Flames would likely have to send back a defenseman that is close to NHL ready in the deal, and ideally for me that would be Brett Kulak. However I think there is a good chance that he’s getting taken in the expansion draft so it may be Rasmus Andersson or Oliver Kylington.
It also makes sense that the Flames would send at least one other prospect the other way as well. Perhaps a forward such as Hunter Shinkaruk or Andrew Mangiapane would make sense. Coupled with a pick swap, it may enticing enough for Chicago to take the deal.
Chicago is starting to plan for their future because their present is stuck in cap hell. Their current struggles came at the cost of three Stanley Cups so I’m sure they aren’t complaining.
Hjalmarsson would be a great fit as a fourth defender, and the Blackhawks are in a tough cap predicament which means the Flames may be able to get him without significantly hurting their current roster.
The opportunity could be there, but should the Flames do it?
Should the Flames go for Niklas Hjalmarsson?
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