Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said he just got the new collective bargaining agreement on Saturday so he would need a few days to study it before identifying the biggest changes.
“We haven’t been able to dive into every little detail,” Bowman said. “We certainly know the significant things that have changed. For the most part it’s similar CBA to the old one with a few new wrinkles. We’ll spend our time making sure we know it inside out.”
The salary cap this season is a pro-rated $70.2 million. Next season it drops to $64.3 million, which could leave some teams scrambling to get under it.
Bowman doesn’t believe the Hawks will have any such problems.
“The good news for us is we have a lot of young players that are on the doorstep if they’re not here already,” Bowman said. “They’re going to be significant players either this year or next year. We have some who are turning pro at the end of this year, guys like (Mark) McNeill and (Phillip) Danault – all those young players have low salaries and they’re not even on this team yet.
“The bulk of our players up front are signed beyond this year so their numbers will stay constant. There are a few guys that up at the end of the year, but we don’t have a large number of guys that are going to get big increases or we don’t have a lot of spots to fill that we wouldn’t use to promote from within with our players either in Rockford and juniors. I think it positions us very well going forward. It’s going to be a crunch for a lot of teams going forward and I know they are concerned about that.”
One key change to the CBA is the fact that any player sent to the minors, such as Rostislav Olesz, who makes a ton of money will have the bulk of his salary (everything over $900,000) count against the cap.
Last season, the Hawks sent Olesz and his $3.1 million salary to Rockford, where it didn’t count against the salary cap.