What could the offseason hold for the Chicago Blackhawks? Read on for the latest.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Chris Kuc reports the Blackhawks limited salary cap space this summer means they have little room to re-sign UFAs like Andrew Ladd and they’ll need to create some room. RFA center Andrew Shaw’s future with the Hawks doesn’t look bright, partly because of the club’s cap constraints and his recent homophobic slur during a recent playoff game which garnered a one-game suspension. He believes GM Stan Bowman will shop for an upper-tier defenseman, which could mean putting young forward Teuvo Teravainen in play. Kuc speculates former Blackhawk Brian Campbell might accept a major pay cut for a chance to move back to Chicago. Bowman is also expected to aggressively shop Bryan Bickell, who has a year at $4 million left on his contract.
David Haugh also believes the Blackhawks must bolster the blueline this summer. Though he notes trading Teravainen is a popular notion, he’ll only cost $832K next season against the cap plus and still has star potential. Haugh thinks Bowman will do all he can to retain Shaw. He suggests trading Artem Anisimov and his $4.55 million cap hit for a defenseman makes more sense than moving Teravainen. He also thinks Bowman should listen if a teams calls with interest in goalie Corey Crawford, who carries an annual cap hit of $6 million.
ESPN.COM: Craig Custance believes the Blackhawks should take a hard look at trading Shaw to a young team (Edmonton, Buffalo) in order to get an affordable asset in return. He also thinks they should try again to move Bickell’s cap hit and attempt to re-sign Artemi Panarin to a long-term extension..
CBS SPORTS: Chris Peters also believes Andrew Ladd is certain to depart via free agency and how they can afford to retain Shaw. If trading Bickell isn’t possible, he suggests a contract buyout, as they’ll only be on the hook for $1 million in 2016-17 and $1.5 million in 2017-18. RFA Richard Panik could be a wild card.
USA TODAY: Kevin Allen also believes the Hawks must improve their defense and moving Bickell could provide some much-needed cap space. He suggests Shaw could have sufficient trade value to land a veteran blueliner or scoring winger.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: First, Bickell will either be traded this June or bought out. The Blackhawks simply cannot afford another season burying him in the minors with over $3 million of his annual salary counting against their cap. I think a buyout is more likely. Barring a stunning move that frees up a lot of cap room, Ladd is a goner. Same with the other Hawks UFAs.
While Shaw’s homophobic comment was an unfortunate and embarrassing incident, I don’t think Bowman will hold that against him. Indeed, I think he prefers retaining Shaw, who brings a lot of grit and energy to the forward lines. I don’t like the notion of trading Teravainen. Yes, his development was slower than expected this season, but he’s only 21 with plenty of potential. His salary alone makes keeping him for another season a worthwhile gamble.
If Bowman is to move Anisimov as part of a salary-dumping deal (and it could be the only significant option he has), he’ll have to do it before July 1, when the center’s new contract with its modified no-trade clause kicks in. I’m not convinced that’s something Bowman intends to do, but it’s still worth noting. I don’t believe he has any intention of parting with Crawford, who’s considered part of their core as much as Kane, Toews, Keith and Seabrook. He also has a full no-movement clause.
If Bowman’s going after a defenseman, best to forget about Campbell. There’s talk he’s willing to accept a pay cut to stay in Florida. Besides, he’s turning 37 in May.