Free-agent challenge starts now for Hawks 

June, 14, 2010

The Chicago Blackhawks' potential salary cap issues -- in regard to next season -- have been pretty well documented. In the coming days, weeks and months, those issues will come into sharper focus.

For instance, the Hawks' 2010-11 team cap number will be reduced by approximately $3.8 million as a result of the individual performance bonus overage from the recently concluded campaign. In other words, if the upper end of the team salary range went up $2 million (as most expect that it will -- so long as the NHLPA agrees to the five percent inflator) to $58.8 million, the Hawks' max team cap number would be roughly $55M.

That's a pretty big problem when you consider they already have 14 players under contract for next season at a combined cap hit of more than $57M.

E.J. Hradek

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
E.J. Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.