With the Stanley Cup Final over, and the Lightning planning their boat parade, the rest of the league is now officially in the NHL offseason. We’ve already had plenty of chatter around the Seattle Expansion Draft, the NHL Entry Draft, and the beginning of Free Agency in the Chicago Blackhawks world, so expect things to ramp-up VERY soon.
With that in mind, here are some important dates to have on the calendar for the NHL offseason:
• Today, July 8th – First buy-out window opens. Players with “No Move” clauses can be bought out immediately. All other players must pass through unconditional waivers.
There was some speculation surrounding the Blackhawks and Duncan Keith that if a trade for the defenseman wasn’t made, Chicago would buy him out. That would save the Blackhawks virtually no money and would allow Keith to leave the organization for free. It won’t happen and it is unlikely the Blackhawks will buy-out any players this offseason.
• July 13th – Deadline for clubs to request players with “No Move” clauses to waive them for purpose of the Expansion Draft.
• July 16th – Last day for clubs to place players on waivers prior to the Expansion Draft trade/waive freeze.
• July 16th – Deadline for players to agree to waive “No Move” clauses for purpose of the Expansion Draft.
• July 17th – Start of Expansion Draft signing/trade/waiver freeze.
• July 17th – Deadline for clubs to submit their Expansion Draft protection list. We’ve speculated a bit on who the Blackhawks may protect for the upcoming Seattle Expansion Draft, with the team likely using the 7-3-1 protection plan. We’ll know for sure by the late afternoon on July 17th, with the protected players lists from all 31 teams being made public on the 18th prior to the Expansion Draft.
• July 21st – Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft.
• July 22nd – Expansion Draft signing/trade/waiver freeze lifted.
• July 23-24 – NHL Entry Draft. Blackhawks currently hold eight picks in this year’s NHL Entry Draft: 11th, 43rd, 61st, 104th, 107th, 171st, 203rd, 215th. Here’s a short list of names to keep in mind for the first few rounds of pick for the Blackhawks: Mason McTavish, Chaz Lucius, Jesper Wallstedt, Cole Sillinger, Matthew Coronato, Carson Lambos, Fabian Lysell, Sebastian Cossa, Corson Cuelemans, Colton Dach, Sean Behrens, Simon Robertsson, Sasha Pastujov, Evan Nause, Scott Morrow, Matthew Knies, Cameron Whynot, and Josh Doan. You know, just to name a few.
• July 26th – Deadline for Qualifying Offers to Restricted Free Agents (not open for acceptance until July 28th). Chicago currently has seven restricted free agents to make decisions on this summer: Pius Suter, Nikita Zadorov, Brandon Hagel, Adam Gaudette, David Kämpf, Alex Nylander, and Josh Dickinson. Talks have been going on with Zadorov and the Blackhawks on a new deal, but they are still in the negotiating stages. It’s likely that every other player, besides Dickinson, is offered a new deal from Chicago.
• July 27th – First buy-out window ends.
• July 27th – Clubs can contact Restricted Free Agents who received qualifying offers.
• July 28th – Restricted and Unrestricted Free Agency signing period opens. Chicago currently has five unrestricted free agents to make decisions on this summer: Vinnie Hinostroza, Zack Smith, Brandon Pirri, John Quenneville, and Anton Lindholm. Of this group, I could see Chicago making an offer to Hinostroza, but that’s about it. It will also come down to how they handle their restricted free agents, as well as any trades they make around the Expansion and Entry Draft periods.
• August 15th – Unrestricted Free Agency for NCAA players opens. The Blackhawks have one NCAA player that must be signed by August 15th: 2017 seventh-round pick Josh Ess (Wisconsin). All indications point to Ess not getting an offer from the Blackhawks and becoming an unrestricted free agent at that point.
• Mid-September – Estimated period for the start of Chicago Blackhawks 2021-22 Training Camp.
• October 12th – Targeted start date for 2021-22 NHL Season. And so it begins again…