Fresh off their Stanley Cup victory over the tough-luck Philadelphia Flyers, many Chicago Blackhawk fans are tweeting that their beloved Hawks could be the NHL’s next dynasty.
Super-star players such as Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook gives the Blackhawks a wonderful stable of talent from which to build around.
The Question is—given the changes the Blackhawks will have to make this summer, will there be enough for them to repeat their Stanley Cup drive in 2010-11?
Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman will have to show some tough love to a number of current roster players this off-season, including, restricted free agents Ben eager, Colin Fraser, Jordan Hendry, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Andrew Ladd and Antti Niemi, as well as unrestricted free agents, Adam Burish, Nick Boynton, Kim Johnsson and veteran forward John Madden—who had a very quiet playoff, didn’t he?
The Blackhawks have a total of $57.7 million committed to 14 players, which obviously creates some pretty severe issues with regard to the salary cap.
Clearly, Bowman will have to let more than a few good players go, question is—which ones stay and which ones go?
Given the Blackhawks depth, they should be able to bring in some very impressive prospects and/or draft choices in return for their assets (which are substantial). Fact is, the Hawks can ill-afford to take back salary in most of the deals they will make, so draft choices and prospects gets it done on more occasions than not.
Before the playoffs started a number of Blackhawks' fans were clamoring to have high-dollar defenseman Brian Campbell moved. Given his performance during the Hawks Stanley Cup run one has to think that most Blackhawk fans would like to keep Campbell around, which, again, means others will have to go.
Needless to say, each and every one of the Blackhawks unrestricted free agents will likely not receive a contract—at least not to play in Chicago.
As for the restricted free agents, despite his spotty play, Antti Niemi proved his worth throughout the playoffs and will most certainly be resigned, this despite the Hawks admiration of prospect Corey Crawford—the heir apparent to Niemi.
More likely, Blackhawks goaltender Cristobel Huet (who was stapled to the bench throughout the playoffs) will be bought out, traded (unlikely) or demoted to the minors. If the Blackhawks can rid themselves of Huet’s large contract that will afford them a measure of flexibility when it comes to signing some of their stable of talent.
Restricted free agents Ben Eager and Andrew Ladd will be high on the Hawks list to re-sign as well, but given their cap restraints, it’s unlikely both, if either, returns next season.
More likely, the Hawks will be forced to bring in a few players from their AHL affiliate Rockford IceHogs, including the likes of, forward Jack Skille (23 goals, 26 assists in 63 games) and goaltender Corey Crawford (who posted a 24-16-2 record in 43 games), amongst others.
Another player of interest may be defenseman Dylan Olsen (who may not be ready) and the highly-touted Kyle Beach (52 goals, 34 assists with the Spokane Chiefs), who, like all of those players, are not a sure thing, not yet anyways.
Of the current roster players that may be on the move forwards Kris Versteeg and Patrick Sharp look to be the most likely to be moved with defenseman Brent Sopel likely emerging as the odd-man out on the back end.
Let’s face it, the debate as to which players will be moving on will rage all summer long, with many of the moves coming before or at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
The good news is the Blackhawks cupboard in chalk full of prospects, so they should be able to make a number of moves successfully, which, in the end, should result in another very solid roster for the 2010-11 season.
Will next season’s roster be as deep in talent as this years addition? Probably not. That said, many NHL teams are very close to the cap which may necessitate a number of teams tweaking their rosters for next season.
In the end the Blackhawks should emerge with a very good team, one that could make a long run in next years playoffs, if not compete for another Stanley Cup.
Yes Blackhawk fans, as much as your Stanley Cup victory feels like the end of a 41 year old curse, this may very well be just the beginning to a dynasty that will see the Blackhawks win more than their fair share of Stanley Cups in over the next five seasons.
Buckle up, it’s gonna be a fun ride!
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Until next time,