With the NHL Entry Draft and free agency periods rapidly approaching, the Chicago Blackhawks will be making some moves to better position themselves for the future as the team continues to celebrate their Stanley Cup championship.
The one player that everyone assumes will be gone is winger Patrick Sharp, but just sending him away will not be enough to fill out the roster and afford to bring back players like Brandon Saad and Marcus Kruger. A Sharp trade would leave the Blackhawks with $56.4 million in salary owed for next season, with only 12 players under contract.
With that in mind, there are other moves that the team will need to make to clear up salary room and to manage to bolster the roster to stay competitive.Which players will stay, and which will go? We have a list of potential candidates that could be on their way out of Chicago before the 2015-16 season begins.
Bryan Bickell - $4 million per season, two years left on deal
There is a possibility that the Blackhawks would have to eat money on Bickell’s contract to get another team to give them decent value, but there are some teams that could look to him as a way of getting to the salary cap floor for next season. Bickell is almost a sure-fire goner, but Stan Bowman has surprised some folks before, and there’s always a chance Bickell could remain in the fold.
Corey Crawford - $6 million per season, five years left on deal
It would likely take a huge return for the Blackhawks to send out Crawford, but the cap savings he would give them could make a move a possibility. A team like the Edmonton Oilers could potentially look to grab the veteran netminder, and with their wealth of prospects and draft picks, a package could entice Bowman to make a move.
The problem of course would be that the Blackhawks would have to significantly bolster their blue line if they lost Crawford. They allowed nearly three shots per game more in the 2014-15 season than they did in the previous year, and it’s unlikely that Bowman would feel confident with an Antti Raanta/Scott Darling combination playing with that type of failure at shot suppression.
Brent Seabrook - $5.8 million per season, one year left on deal
Dealing Seabrook would also give the Blackhawks a good amount of extra money to work with in the offseason, but this move is probably the least likely out of all the listed possibilities. The Blackhawks could already suffer some big losses on their blue line as Johnny Oduya and Michal Rozsival have likely reached the end of the road with Chicago, but losing Seabrook would cause them some huge headaches next season and would leave them majorly short-handed on the blue line.
Andrew Shaw - $2 million per season, one year left on deal
Shaw would net a decent return for a team looking for a player with positional flexibility and a track record of success and hard work, but the question for the Blackhawks would be whether or not the cap savings would be worthwhile for them. The answer is likely no, but if Brandon Saad’s contract demands are higher than expected, they may be forced to move Shaw in order to fit the winger under the cap.
Kris Versteeg - $2.2 million per season, one year left on deal
Versteeg’s deal is being partially picked up by the Florida Panthers, so the Blackhawks could have an easier time dealing him than they would have had otherwise. His showing in the postseason definitely showed that he still has some longevity left in his hockey career, and the Hawks also have players like Teuvo Teravainen and Mark McNeill that could replace him fairly easily in the lineup.