NHL Lockout: How Could The Chicago Blackhawks Use An Amnesty Buyout?

By Randy Holt
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Pending some complete meltdown in the negotiations, which isn’t entirely out of the realm of possibility, we will see NHL hockey in the very near future. One of the storylines that could end up coming out of this new collective bargaining agreement is the fact that each team will likely be granted an amnesty buyout to be used in order to help alleviate some of the stress from a potential lowering of the salary cap.

The Chicago Blackhawks would certainly play around with the notion of using their amnesty, should it become available. Luckily for them, they aren’t in a situation where there’s absolutely one specific player that they would need to use it on and know exactly who that player is (See: Bryzgalov, Ilya).

However, the possibility is still there that the Hawks could end up using an amnesty. But how would they use it? Given that a great chunk of their money is invested in the core, there aren’t too many candidates.

When talking about bloated contracts in relation to the Blackhawks, one would immediately point to Niklas Hjalmarsson. He’s failed to live up to the four-year, $14 million deal that he signed following the 2009-2010 season. He still has two years remaining on that deal and the Hawks could look to dump him and his $3.5 million salary.

But at this point, trading Hjalmarsson seems more likely. His contract is favorable compared to others that defensemen have been receiving over the past couple of summers and he’s still a steady defenseman who blocks a ton of shots, if you’re into that sort of thing. Of course, the availability of an amnesty could lead to teams simply waiting for it to be Hjalmarsson that takes the hit and then pick him up after without surrendering anything other than cash.

There’s also Johnny Oduya. He just signed his new three-year contract, which was a bit of a question mark given what he’s making. Whether or not the Blackhawks signed him with the intention of paying him, or if they were bracing for the lockout and decided to throw a bunch of money at him without any intention of paying it, we do not know. For many teams, it seems to be the latter. If that’s the case, then an amnesty certainly could be headed Oduya’s way.

Almost equally as likely is Steve Montador. He’s making almost $3 million for two more years after this one. Even when he signed the contract, it was pretty clear that that was an overpayment. If he’s healthy, he’s a decent defenseman, but isn’t worth what the Hawks are paying for him. He’s probably on the list. For kicks, you could also throw Michael Frolik‘s name in there. He’s failed to live up to his billing as an up-and-comer, at least offensively. But he has only one year left on his deal after this season and using an amnesty on him would probably be pointless.

One name you can absolutely expect to be thrown out there as a possibility is Marian Hossa. Hossa’s deal runs through 2021, with a cap hit just over $5 million. Many of the used amnesties that we could see around the league will probably be for similar contracts. But while those folks likely haven’t lived up to theirs, depending on the player, Hossa is still playing at an extremely high level. If there was still uncertainty after his concussion in last year’s playoffs, then we might be talking about an amnesty. But he’s cleared and would be ready to go if the season were ready to start next week. So even though 2021 doesn’t seem so favorable, it’s probably unlikely that the Blackhawks head down that road with Hossa.

Again, the Hawks aren’t in a situation where they absolutely need to use an amnesty. But it is a possibility, and they will certainly at least considering using it, should it become available in the new CBA. Who do you think could/should head out the door, should each team be granted an amnesty?

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