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Possible Shake-Up in Chicago

It's a Canadian Game


blog-0736775001404152903.jpgThe 2014 NHL Entry Draft kicks off Friday night in Philadelphia and along with the excitement surrounding the new crop of young stars, comes the excitement of wheeling and dealing that is likely to occur in the coming weeks.

Among the teams that early on look as though could be busy this off-season is the Chicago Blackhawks. It seems kind of interesting that the Hawks would want to make many moves after coming just a goal a way from punching their ticket to their second Stanley Cup finals in two years.

This past week growing rumours about the future of Ottawa Senators star centre Jason Spezza started to heat up and according to many sources it seems as though the Blackhawks are among the teams that are showing the most desire for the 31 year old.

The Hawks are looking to shake some things up, and since Bryan Murray and the Senators are hoping to get a similar type of return for Spezza that they gave up to acquire Bobby Ryan (a roster player, a prospect, and a high draft pick) it seems as though the Hawks would be forced to shake things up.

In saying this Murray has made it clear that he would be interested in a one-for-one deal, obviously meaning that a high-end top six forward would be coming back the other way, something the Hawks have in abundance.

Though obviously names such as Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane would not be on that list; and well get to that later. Names such as Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa could enter that discussion, Sharp especially.

Despite having a fantastic regular season (leading Chicago in scoring with 34 goals and 78 points) Sharp failed to show up for the Hawks in the playoffs, recording just five goals in 19 games, and could give reason for the Hawks to ship him.

Also for Chicago a deal for Spezza that includes Sharp would free up $900,000 in cap space as Sharp is currently making $5.9 million while Spezza is under contract for $5 million. For Chicago that ability to free up some salary is huge as TSN Insider Bob McKenzie reported this week that negotiations between Toews and Kane on signing contract extensions have begun.

The two superstars apparently gave Chicago their initial asking prices to sign with the club; they will become unrestricted free agents following the 2014-15 season. According to early reports both players are looking to make in the ballpark of $12 million dollars a year, figures that would make them amongst the highest paid players in the league.

Bob McKenzie @TSNBobMcKenzie · 23h

It's believed Kane-Toews initial ask of CHI on extension is around $12M/yr each. They'll end up lower but still could be $10M+ AAV players.

If Chicago is serious in signing the two, which they obviously will be, they will need to free up some cap space, while still filling out their roster. As it stand now, according to capgeek.com the Hawks would have just six of their current forwards, three defensemen, and just Corey Crawford under contract for the 2015-16 season, while having allocated just over $50 million on just these players.

So, of course the Hawks would have to be selective in how they go about signing and filling out their roster. Young players such as Marcus Kruger and Brandon Saad will likely both demand pay increases as they continue to develop so Chicago management will have to decide where to find those extra dollars. Other rumours have suggested that the cap could rise to as high as $75 million in the coming years which would come as a huge relief to the Hawks moving forward.

In other Chicago news as free agency approaches, TSN and ESPN Insider Pierre LeBrun has reported that the Hawks are also among a number of teams who have shown interest in soon-to-be free agent Paul Stastny.

Pierre LeBrun @Real_ESPNLeBrun · 19h

Winnipeg Jets, Chicago Blackhawks among many teams to have reached out to Stastny camp, latest in Rumblings blog: http://espn.go.com/blog/nhl/post/_/id/31597/rumblings-kesler-watch-stastny-market

The 28 year-old Stastny is coming off a season where he put up a very respectable 60 points in 71 games. What makes this deal again all the more interesting for Chicago is the fact that Stastny’s agent, Matt Keator, made it clear this week that his client is not looking to make any less than he made last season, which was a hefty $6.6 million.

So, once again the issue will be how exactly will the Hawks make room to accommodate Stastny’s contract if they are as serious about signing him as they appear to be.

Despite coming so close to playing for their second consecutive Stanley Cup it seems as though the Hawks are looking to vamp up their squad. Though most eyes will be on the draft stage this week, it should also be an interesting next few days in the boardroom as well.

Follow me on Twitter: @Craig_Hagerman


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