Countdown To Free Agency, Late Night Eyeballs, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

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Countdown To Free Agency, Late Night Eyeballs, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

Chicago Blackhawks

Free Agency opens at 11:00 a.m. CT today. Let’s dive right into everything before it’s too late and get you ready for what to expect or not with the Chicago Blackhawks.

•   If you were like me, getting ready for bed last night and doom-checking Twitter, you saw this come across the timeline.

•   That only means one thing nowadays for the Blackhawks: Chaos.

•   As we saw and in case you missed it last night, the Blackhawks traded Brent Seabrook’s contract and acquired Tyler Johnson and a future second-round pick from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

•   Johnson comes to the Blackhawks with three years remaining on his deal at a $5M AAV cap hit. He’s won back-to-back Stanley Cups with the Lightning and is coming off a 22-point season last year. He’s a middle-six forward option and it makes a bit more sense after this move, why the Blackhawks did not give a qualifying offer to Pius Suter.

•   Johnson turns 31-years-old tomorrow as well.

•   Also happening yesterday was the Blackhawks acquiring Marc-Andre Fleury for virtually nothing from the Vegas Golden Knights. Fleury has stated that he does not know what his next move is in his career after being shacked by the trade from the Golden Knights. It’s been reported that Fleury may retire, rather than play in Chicago. Following the trade, Fleury released a statement which did not include the words “Chicago” or “Blackhawks,” which was odd…

•   If Fleury doesn’t play in Chicago, his $7M cap hit for next season will not count at all against the Blackhawks, so there’s silver lining there if the gamble on Fleury doesn’t pay-off for Chicago. If he does play for Chicago, they have added the reigning Vezina Trophy winner and a legitimate No. 1 starting goalie.

•   With the additions of Fleury and Johnson, the Blackhawks are right back in salary cap hell and are going to have to make a plethora of moves as free agency opens. Names like Nikita Zadorov, Calvin de Haan, and Dylan Strome are likely to be moved to create the cap space needed to fit Fleury and Johnson. If Fleury doesn’t play, then it’s a different story. But Chicago can exceed the salary cap by Andrew Shaw’s $3.9M deal, since they would place him on LTIR at the beginning of the season to be cap compliant.

•   You know what rebuilding teams don’t do? Spend to the cap ceiling. So RIP the “rebuild.”

•   When free agency opens, it appears the Blackhawks will already have one new addition to the team ready to go: defenseman Jake McCabe. We mentioned in yesterday’s bullets that McCabe, coming off an injury-shortened season, could be an affordable option to replace Zadorov and/or de Haan. We’ll need to see what the potential deal is, but McCabe makes sense for the Blackhawks as a middle-pairing option.

•   Speaking of free agent defensemen, it appears Dougie Hamilton may be headed to the Devils.

•   New Jersey is becoming a sneaky team in the Eastern Conference. If Hamilton lands with the Devils, they might have a surprising season ahead of them.

•   More free agency news ahead of the beginning of free agency, Colorado Avalanche Captain Gabriel Landeskog is staying put, for eight years…

•   So that would mean that Brandon Saad is hitting the open market. *eyeballs emoji*

•   The free agency period is going to be wild and just another day in what has been one of, if not the most unpredictable offseason I’ve seen from the NHL and the Blackhawks. Expected anything, ya’ll.

•   That will do it for today, enjoy the frenzy!

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Author: Mario Tirabassi

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.