Chicago Blackhawks: Could Arbitration Give Hawks More Salary Cap Flexibility?

Chicago Blackhawks: Could Arbitration Give Hawks More Salary Cap Flexibility?

When Chris Campoli and Viktor Stalberg filed for arbitration on Tuesday, most Hawks fans assumed it was a one-way ticket out of Chicago.

It might be the opposite, especially in the case of Stalberg.

Because two players on the Blackhawks filed for arbitration, the team can take advantage of a rarely used part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. There is an August buyout period that is limited to teams that go to arbitration with at least one restricted free agent. This clause allows a team to create additional cap space if an arbiter’s ruling is higher than a team’s expectations.

If the Blackhawks bought out Rostislav Olesz on August 1, they would have almost $10M in cap space to play with. According to CapGeek.com, here are the cap hits by year if the Hawks bought out Olesz on Aug. 1:

  • 2011-12: $372,222
  • 2012-13: -$227,778
  • 2013-14: -$477,778
  • 2014-15: $647,222
  • 2015-16: $647,222
  • 2016-17: $647,222

Yes, you see two negative numbers there. The Blackhawks would actually get a salary cap credit in two of the six years Olesz’s buyout would be on the books.

The trick would be proving Olesz is healthy on Aug. 1 to make the buyout possible. He had offseason knee surgery, but is expected to be healthy for the start of the season. If he is healthy on Aug. 1, he might be bought out.

So while Hawks fans are hating on Stalberg’s play, he might serve an function to the organization in the long run.

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