The Chicago Blackhawks are likely to add a free agent or two to the current roster. Don't expect general manager Stan Bowman to race out ahead of the pack to pursue them, though.
Patience is likely to be the buzzword throughout the organization with NHL free agency beginning Friday, July 5. The 'Hawks will probably be content to take care of re-signing their own restricted free agents while keeping an eye on what should be a wild opening weekend.
Waiting out the initial frenzy should allow Bowman to find some affordable pieces to bolster the roster. With a shrinking salary cap next fall, Chicago isn't a prime candidate to land a big-name free agent.
As far as needs go, it may depend on who returns from the defending Stanley Cup champs. If Michal Rozsival decides to sign for around the $2 million he made last season, the 'Hawks seem well stocked on the blue line. Otherwise, look for Bowman to find a veteran defenseman to play Rozsival's role.
Finding some center depth will probably be Chicago's priority. It could use a player who can defend, kill penalties and win faceoffs. Sure, there's always the pipe dream that Bowman lands that elusive second-line center, however, Chicago may be ready to go the youth route at that position.
Money is tight as far as signing outside talent this summer. There are some high-quality players who could fit in Chicago's top six. Florida's Steven Weiss is looking for a new home. Matt Cullen, formerly of Minnesota, will also test the waters, according to Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Toronto bought out Mikhail Grabovski, as per Mark Zwolinski of the Toronto Star. This adds to a glut of compliance buyouts and deepens the pool of available players. Chicago has some cap space available but not enough to outbid the rest of the league.
On the other hand, the big, free-agent crop also provides Bowman with the opportunity to wait out the initial flurry of signings and still land an impact player. Prices are bound to drop as the days pass.
Depending on how talks with Ray Emery go, Bowman may be looking for a veteran goalie to back up Corey Crawford. Emery may be ready to see what his value is on the open market, though. News of a return to the 'Hawks would shorten Bowman's shopping list.
The signings should come fast and furious starting Friday. The 'Hawks may eventually be a player in free agency. It just may not come in the first weekend.
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