More speculation on the Chicago Blackhawks, including the future of Andrew Shaw, in your NHL rumor mill.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: In a recent mailbag segment, Mark Lazerus responded to questions over possible offseason moves by the Chicago Blackhawks. Most of the questions involved restricted free agent center Andrew Shaw. With the Blackhawks already investing around $69 million next season in 17 players, Lazerus believes Shaw will probably have to accept a significant pay cut to remain with the club. Even a qualifying offer of $2.5 million could be too expensive for the Hawks. Though Shaw wants to stay, the Blackhawks must shed salary (possibly by moving left wing Bryan Bickell’s $4 million salary for next season) to make it happen.
Lazerus doesn’t expect the Blackhawks to trade promising forward Teuvo Teravainen but no longer considers him as untouchable as he was a year ago. He doesn’t completely rule out the possibility of Teravainen being traded, perhaps by packaging him with Bickell.
Of the UFAs, he believes Richard Panik is the one worth retaining. He wants to return and Lazerus suggests he could be re-signed to a six-figure salary.
Lazerus also wonders if former Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell might consider returning for one season on the cheap. He also suggests buying out Bickell’s contract wouldn’t hurt efforts to retain Shaw or Andrew Ladd. He doesn’t see the Hawks trading goaltender Corey Crawford.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Chris Kuc reports Andrew Shaw hopes to return with the Blackhawks. GM Stan Bowman declined to speak out Shaw’s future with the club, saying more will be determined once the salary-cap figure for next season is revealed in June. Meanwhile, UFA left wing Andrew Ladd said he’s open to returning with the Hawks at a discount.
Chris Hine reports Bowman believes some of his younger players must step up into larger roles if the Blackhawks are to continue competing at a championship level. That includes those currently on the roster and some in their farm system. Bowman singled out players such as Ryan Hartman, Mark McNeill, Vincent Hinostroza, Tanner Kero and Ville Pokka as possibilities to make the jump onto the big club next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: According to Cap Friendly, the Blackhawks have over $66.9 million invested in 17 players for 2016-17. Assuming a cap ceiling of $74 million, they’ll have just over $7 million in cap space. Even if Shaw is willing to accept a hometown discount of $3 million annually, that eats up nearly half of their remaining cap space. Maybe Bowman can convince him to accept a one-year deal worth $2.75 million with the promise of a lucrative long-term starting in 2017-18. If not, he might not have any choice but to trade him.
Ladd is completing a five-year deal worth $4.4 million per season. I don’t see him accepting that much or less to stay in Chicago. Even if he accepted $5 million per, the Blackhawks can’t afford him. I expect Ladd will be hitting the free-agent market on July 1.
Bowman could shock the world and trade Crawford, but I don’t see that happening. He’s a core player who backstopped them to two of their last three championships. They believe in him. I’m not convinced Campbell will return to Chicago. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he took a discount to remain with the Florida Panthers for another season or two.
Bowman will try hard to move all of Bickell’s remaining salary. That could mean adding a sweetener into the deal, like perhaps a second-round draft pick or one of his top prospects. Failing that, I expect Bickell will be bought out. I’ll be very surprised if Teravainen gets moved. Panik should be an affordable re-signing, but he’s already earning $975K and has arbitration rights this summer. Maybe he accepts another $975K deal for next season with the promise of a nice raise in 2017-18. As for the rest of the roster, I think Bowman’s tipped his hand as to his intentions, looking for two or three of the kids in his system to earn roster spots next season.