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The Chicago Blackhawks are still in a salary cap bind in terms of being able to pay top free agents to come play here. They will have about $8 million to spend this summer, and most will go to re-signing players on their roster from last year.
Look for the Hawks to take the same route they took in building their Stanley Cup-winning team. Ben Smith and Marcus Kruger were both bright spots in the playoffs this year, with little to zero NHL experience.
Marcus Kruger was pulled from up from the Swedish League this year and played well in limited time on the ice. He also suited up for five of the seven playoff games which tells you what the Hawks think they might have with the youngster. Look for Kruger to make this team next year and be able to contribute on the offensive and defensive ends of the ice.
Ben Smith was fantastic and consistently one of the top three forwards on the ice for the Hawks in the playoffs. He played on multiple lines and even saw time on the first line next to Kane and Toews. He played outstanding in the playoffs, and I only see big things from him to come in the next few years.
The Hawks will have to take this route of young players, as their salaries are low and the contributions they get in return are well worth the money not spent on another free agent.