Jake Dowell #28 of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrates the goal of teammate Michael Frolik #67 during game action against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre March 5, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Some of you may be new, so let's outline how the summer goes down and the important dates that everyone should know.
Late May : Right before the Stanley Cup Final, Gary Bettman give his state of the league address. This is important because it is at this time that he'll announce what next year's salary cap will be. It's been rumored to be going up, which will be a huge lift. But keep an eye on this.
June 24th: The NHL Draft. While the names you won't recognize, and it's unlikely that the Hawks will take anyone who will play on the roster, or even the system, next year, this is generally when some deals get done. If the Hawks are going to move anyone off the roster (rhymes with Balmerson), it'll probably be right around this date.
June 30th: This is when the Hawks' restricted free agents must be qualified to retain their restricted status. You may remember this was the snafu in the summer of 2009 when Kris Versteeg, Troy Brouwer, Cam Barker and others were not sent their qualifying offer and were about to be unrestricted. A qualifying offer depends on how much they made, but generally is only 5-10 percent more than they made the previous season. The players do not have to accept this offer, but once it is made they are still restricted and the Hawks can match any offer made to them by another team, or they will receive compensation in draft picks, which are scaled to the size of the offer. The Hawks in need of qualifying are Troy Brouwer, Michael Frolike, Chris Campoli, and Corey Crawford.
July 1st: Free agency begins. The Hawks should be a little active, though not as active as some, and usually a majority of deals get done on this very day. See who the Hawks specifically target right out of the gate. Last year it was John Scott. Yeah, not so exciting.
July 15th: Blackhawks Convention. An excellent time to sweat in your Kane jersey while standing in line behind some rich kid who can't get Jonathan Toews to come to prom with him or her next year. Might want to skip it.
August: Not. Much.
Week after Labor Day: Training camp begins. My life has meaning.