There's hardly any rest for the hockey minds on West Madison. Soon after the season ended, the planning for next year must start.
If there's one bonus in a longer offseason, it's that GM Stan Bowman now has more than a full two months to get his own house in order.
The draft came soon after the parades were all done. Free agency came a week after that. With all the signed players that had to be shipped, there was hardly any time to get to those who weren't, such as Antti Niemi, Andrew Ladd, and Niklas Hjalmarsson.
That shouldn't be a problem this go-around.
So who's locked in? The Hawks have 14 players signed at a cost of $51 million next year. Under this year's cap, that would be a little over $8 million in cap space. However, the buzz all year has been that the cap number will jump 3-5 million for next season, especially considering the new TV deal signed with Comcast/NBC.
The Hawks, in theory, could have $13 million in space to sign new additions.
Who's in the shed? Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Dave Bolland, Bryan Bickell, Ben Smith (probably considered to be a big-teamer now), Brian Campbell, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Nick Leddy, and sadly John Scott are all signed for next year. We should also probably add Jeremy Morin to this list, who is going to get every chance to make the team.
Who's in the wind? Both goalies, Chris Campoli, Michael Frolik, Ryan Johnson, Tomas Kopecky, Troy Brouwer, Viktor Stalberg, Jake Dowell, and Fernando Pisani.
Of those, you can write Pisani's and Dowell's ticket out of town. Kopecky is likely a goner too, as he just has never cut out a role for himself here, but that's not assured.
Frolik and Campoli are Bowman acquisitions and he'd be loathe to give up on them so quickly, and they shouldn't come in at too much higher of a price than they already are, say $1.5 million for each.
Stalberg may have earned himself a 4th line role next year, but it's questionable if he'll take that money.
So if we're right about Frolik and Campoli, the Hawks will have 17 signed players with about $7 million in space.
Corey Crawford is going to get a raiser, but no more than $2 million. That's 18 with five to go.
Acquired in the Frolik trade was goalie Alex Salak, who people are pretty high on. He likely might get the backup role next year, and is already signed at a little less than a million. So that's 19 players with $4 million of space.
Now it's clear why I've been on the "Trade Hammer" bandwagon.
The Hawks need two to three meaningful additions, and that's even if they re-sign Troy Brouwer.
However, only having $4 million in space to sign them isn't going to make them impactful. Moving Hammer's contract opens up an additional 3.5 million, depending on what comes back.
Even if it's a $2 million player coming the other way, having 5.5 million for two player signings is a lot more room.
What do they do? Well, that's what we're going to spend the summer finding out.