Hawks Insider

Blackhawks 2023 free agency preview

NHL free agency opens on Saturday, July 1 at 11 a.m. CT

NHL: JUN 28 Upper Deck NHL Draft
The Blackhawks are not expected to be major players via free agency.

For the first time since 2019, NHL free agency is back on its normal schedule of July 1 at 11 a.m. CT. The COVID-19 outbreak affected the hockey calendar for the last four years but things are finally back on track.

With free agency set to open on Saturday, here's a quick preview from the Blackhawks' perspective:

Which players are getting qualifying offers?

Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson said on Thursday that Philipp Kurashev was extended a qualifying offer, which means the team retained his negotiating rights. I'd expect a contract extension to get worked out at some point.

Kurashev is the only pending restricted free agent that received an offer. Caleb Jones, most notably, did not get one. He will become an unrestricted free agent.

"It was an extremely difficult decision on Caleb," Davidson said. "The thought process there is we're likely going to give a look to some of our younger defensemen, give them the opportunity to fight it out in training camp, whoever that may be amongst the group.

"And it's a key time in Caleb's career. Being in and out of the lineup, I'm not sure that necessarily helps him. Just give him the freedom to find a new team, a new home and establish a long-term relationship somewhere else, where I thought he was going to get blocked out with us."

Anders Bjork, Hunter Drew, Jakub Galvas, Maxim Golod, Cameron Hillis and Austin Wagner also did not receive a qualifying offer.

Where do the Blackhawks stand with their cap situation?

The NHL and NHLPA set the upper limit of the salary cap at $83.5 million for the 2023-24 season. More importantly for Chicago, the floor is $61.7 million.

With the additions of Taylor Hall ($6 million cap hit), Nick Foligno ($4 million) and Corey Perry ($4 million), the Blackhawks added $14 million on their books over the last few days. That number rises to above $16 million when you factor in Josh Bailey's buyout ($2.6 million cap hit in 2023-24 and $1.16 million in 2024-25).

As of Friday night, CapFriendly had the Blackhawks at a $54.6 million cap hit, which is roughly $7 million off the floor. But that doesn't include Lukas Reichel, Arvid Soderblom, and potential defensemen like Isaak Phillips and Alex Vlasic on the roster. Connor Bedard will probably sign an entry-level contract soon too and he'll be on the books.

What I'm saying is, the Blackhawks will have zero problem reaching the floor. They still have a ton of room to take on contracts for future assets as well, if the opportunity presents itself.

What could the Blackhawks target?

The Blackhawks did their heavy-lifting before free agency by acquiring Foligno, Hall and Perry, and they did so because they were able to get all three players at a high cap hit and short term; Foligno and Perry on one-year deals and Hall with two years left on his contract.

Because of that, I do not expect the Blackhawks to be very active on Saturday. The forward group appears to be pretty set once Kurashev signs. The one thing they could do is add a defenseman, but it would have to make sense.

"I'm not ruling out going out and perhaps picking up a right-shot D in free agency," Davidson said on Wednesday. "But nothing we’re going to chase."

Click here to follow the Blackhawks Talk Podcast.

Contact Us