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Chicago’s offseason dilemma in a nutshell…

Posted By Trent Kondo On Jun 15 2010 @ 11:55 am In Chicago Blackhawks | 25 Comments

Starting off I just wanted to give my thoughts about Rocky Wirtz and Dale Tallon and what they meant to the Blackhawks bringing the cup home for the first time in nearly 5 decades and how they influenced the team.

I have to think Rocky Wirtz and Dale Tallon were the 2 biggest influences. Rocky showed the willingness to spend money on acquiring solid players and televise all the games for the Hawks which obviously brought the fan base back with numerous sell outs and obscene amounts of merchandise sales not just in Chicago but for NHL fans everywhere. With that said, the team had to have a good product on the ice to coincide what Rocky was doing and that is where Tallon stepped in.Dale had some obvious good draft choices in the likes of Toews in 2006 and Kane in 2007 albeit were not difficult draft selections as anyone in that position would have taken those 2 players in their respective draft years.Therefore, I would not call Tallon a draft genius by any means as his past selections overlooked players like Kopitar, Rask and Oshie and he selected Skille so that has not paid immediate dividends but Skille does have the skills to be a good player. In 2008 he selected Kyle Beach over an available Tyler Myers so time will tell if that was a good selection or not and Kyle definitely is an NHL player and could be as soon as next year. Where Tallon progressed was the acquiring of players in the likes of Patrick Sharp and Kris Versteeg but where he was not strong on was salaries in the case of Khabibulin, Huet, Campbell etc.Nevertheless, Tallon did bring in important pieces such as Hossa, Sharp and Versteeg which were important pieces of getting the Hawks to their goal of the Stanley Cup. So in my opinion Wirtz and Tallon were the 2 biggest influences on the Hawks success as Tallon’s faults were somewhat hidden by his excellent acquisition of players and in the end the Blackhawks are now champions.

Chicago Blackhawk off-season notes:

After a triumphant season for the Chicago Blackhawks they must now deal with the much talked about salary cap issues that has everyone speculating this championship team will be ripped apart. I beg to differ and In this piece I will break down the cap and possible scenarios for Chicago entering this tough cap situation.

Here is the list for upcoming, expiring and RFA player contracts:

Player contracts and committed too for the 2010/2011 season:
Toews, Jonathan$6,300,000 Kane, Patrick$6,300,000 Hossa, Marian$5,275,000  Sharp, Patrick$3,900,000 Bolland, Dave$3,375,000 Versteeg, Kris$3,083,333 Byfuglien, Dustin$3,000,000 Brouwer, Troy $1,025,000 Campbell, Brian$7,142,875  Keith, Duncan $5,538,462 Seabrook, Brent$3,500,000  Sopel, Brent$2,333,333 Huet,Cristobal$5,625,000 Kopecky, Tomas $1,200,000
Unrestricted Free Agents
Johnsson, Kim  – $4.8m Madden, John – $2.8m Boynton, Nick  – $1.5m Burish, Adam  – $0.7m Greentree, Kyle  – $0.7m Richmond, Danny  – $0.6m Cullimore, Jassen  – $0.5m Petiot, Richard  – $0.5m Cullen, Mark  – $0.5m Bois, Danny – $0.5m
Restricted Free Agents
Ladd, Andrew -$1.6m Skille, Jack  – $1.3m  Eager, Ben – $1.0m Davis, Nathan  – $0.8m Brophey, Evan  – $0.8m Niemi, Antti  – $0.8m Brennan, Mike  – $0.8m Fraser, Colin  – $0.7m Hjalmarsson, Niklas  – $0.6m Hendry, Jordan  – $0.6m Toivonen, Hannu  – $0.6m Sawyer, Jean-Claude  – $0.5m  Hobson, Adam  – $0.5m MacArthur, Peter  – $0.5m Bickell, Bryan $0.5m

Everyone knows the situation Chicago is in cap wise and all seem to be experts with the majority of people thinking that the Hawks are doomed for upcoming seasons because of this. One word. CORE. Chicago has a solid nucleus of players with Toews, Kane, Keith, Seabrook, Campbell and Hossa. There is a possibility of the latter 3 being dealt albeit a slim chance but stranger things have happened.

Let’s attack the players committed to next year.

Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Duncan Keith are going nowhere.

Marian Hossa does not have a no trade clause but the likelihood of Marian getting dealt is far fetched and highly unlikely as he is considered as part of the core for many more years to come.

Patrick Sharp will be the most sought after and for good reason, as we all witnessed in the playoffs he is an extremely clutch player who can play in any situation, great team guy and he can play wing or center effectively. The Hawks will do their best to retain Patrick and unless a deal comes that completely blows Bowman out of the water then Sharp will be a Blackhawk next season.

Dave Bolland has already proven how effective he can be offensively and defensively. Like last year his playoff run gave the Hawks great hopes for a magical regular season the following year but unfortunately had a bad back that required surgery. Expect Bolland to be wearing an indian head jersey next year.

Kris Versteeg is another fan favourite with an explosive offensive arsenal but being young, fast and able to kill penalties additionally he makes for a very marketable trading piece and sorry to all the Versteeg fans but he is likely gone.

Dustin Byfuglien as we have seen in the last post season appearances is a complete beast, he can play defense very well, his physical play when he brings it is next to none, good speed, great hands and a shot as hard as anyone’s. The only downside to Buff is his lackadaisical play and is seemingly unmotivated at times during the regular season. Buff has a 50/50 chance of being a Hawk next season, if I was a betting man his playoff performance increased his value (like it did for every Hawk) and I sadly see Dustin on another team next year.

Troy Brouwer and Tomas Kopecky will be here next year due to their affordable salaries.

Brian Campbell has a big contract with a limited trade clause in which he can select 8 teams to go to, I do not see Soupy leaving here nor the Hawks wanting to dump him as teams can not take that big of a salary on.

Brent Seabrook is also not going anywhere, while many feel he is a great trade piece and the Hawks will not be able to attain him in 2011 they have to remember in 2012 as it stands right now the Hawks have 10 million in free cap space. Now the two most interesting pieces in Christobal Huet and Brent Sopel are first how do we dump their salaries. Well, Huet is an expensive one and many feel burying him in the minors is the only option, sure that can be done but dealing Huet is not out of the question especially if you can throw in a draft pick and a Kris Versteeg. Our good friend Dale Tallon in Florida loves both players and by adding Versteeg who would be a top 6 forward on that team along with a draft pick would he consider dealing his #1 pick away?

Brent Sopel who has proven he can play with the big boys this year is not as tough a trade piece as everyone thinks, sure the Hawks can send him to the minors but there are teams out there who will pay to have a guy like him on the back end especially after being extremely effective all season long and most definitely through the playoffs. Heck they are paying a guy like Steve Staios a bit more then Sopel, who would you rather have?

So assuming Versteeg, Byfuglien, Sopel and Huet are gone that leaves the Hawks with 43.6million in 10 players. Assuming the cap is 58 million next year we then need to fill out the rest of the roster with approx 14.4 million left of cap space. However, the Hawks must now sign Hjalmarsson and Niemi which I assume they will both be in the 3 million range. Hawks are now back up to 50 million and 12 players signed.

All the Unrestricted free agents we need to consider them gone unfortunately except for maybe Adam Burish who I expect the Hawks to tender an offer too and he will be here next season for 700k/yr but he has not earned a raise beyond what he brings right now.

John Madden was a very good player for us and will be missed but there is zero chance he is with the Hawks next year.

Andrew Ladd will not be offered a new contract and teams will be able to offer a contract to him, although he is a very good role player I have my doubts teams will offer him more then what he makes and he will be a Hawk next year playing out his contract. The same goes with Bickell, Fraser, Eager. Hendry and Skille. Now we are sitting at approximately 57.7 million with 19 players signed.

So in the end the Hawks have a lot of work to do, a ton of rumblings about Toronto being interested in some Hawks players and since Burke has admittedly said he wants “bigger” forwards I expect Byfgulien to be packaged in a possible deal.

Maybe Stan Bowman can package Campbell and Byfuglien for a guy like Kaberle?

Versteeg, Huet and a 1st to Florida for their first overall? Unlikely but the hawks could sweeten the deal even more.

Hossa to Florida for a 1st ?

In ending, there are so many things Bowman can do and yes it will change the dynamic of this team but not to the point that the Hawks will be non-competitive. We may see guys like Bickell, Dowell, Lalonde, Beach and Crawford playing next year but all 5 of those guys are pretty solid prospects.

Let me know your thoughts or possible trade scenarios on what the Hawks can do.

Tkon

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