Can Chicago keep it together?

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Now that the 2015 NHL season is over on ice, the off-season is now officially underway and for the next month or so, there will e some action on the trade front and on the UFA front. Also some important signing are sure to happen which will have a direct effect on who will be available on the trade block leading into next season. Stay tuned to, as we compile the most important information.

What’s next for the Hawks?

Patrick Sharp may be a cap casualty for Chicago.
Patrick Sharp may be a cap casualty for Chicago.

The Chicago Blackhawks have now won their third Stanley Cup in the last six years. Some say it is a dynasty, some say it is the result of sound management and some say it is a bit of luck as well. Bottom line is that the core hat won in 2010, 2013 and 2015 remains the same. You have the Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Marian Hossa, Johnny Oduya, Bryan Bickell who were the mainstay throughout.  Players have come and gone. When the Hawks needed to let go key players after the 2010 Stanley Cup due to cap strapped issues. They had to make sound decision and not jeopardize the future. And he did exactly that!

A chronological road to success for the Blackhawks

He had to let go players such as Andrew Ladd, Antti Niemi, Dave Bolland, Dustin Byfuglien, Brent Sopel, Cristobal Huet, Kris Versteeg  and any more. For Stan Bowman, it wasn’t easy and sacrifice were made. In 2011, the Hawks didn’t win it all and lost to the President’s trophy winner Vancouver Canucks in the first round. That year, the Hawks finished 8th in the conference barely making the playoffs.

The next year, Bowman added some pieces to his team gradually like Brandon Saad, Nick Leddy and Cory Crawford. The team performed well in the playoff losing to the Arizona Coyotes in the Conference Finals. With Bowman, his management skills were always to retain his core and his head coach Joel Quenneville. Bowman was always able to recognize which player represent his core and keep them.  In 2012-2013, in shortened season, the Chicago Blackhawks returned to their glory with an exceptional season with a 37-6-5 record. Furthermore in that same season, the Blackhawks went on a streak which is a NHL team record for most I consecutive games going 24-0- 6. That year they went on to win the cup beating the Boston Bruins in games.

Last year proved to be a major disappointment for Chicago when they lost a hard fought Conference Final series against the eventual Stanley Cup winner, the Los Angeles Kings.  This series could have gone either way with LA taking it 4-3 and heading to the finals a second time in three years. For the Blackhawks, they had the likes of Brandon Saad flourishing to be an excellent second line forward. The return of Versteeg after time spent in Toronto and Florida  brought back the grit and defensive play he once had in Chicago during his first tenure. Cory Crawford also came to his own and became their goalie for years to come.

So who stays and who will go?

Today’s edition will undergo the same type of rupture as in 2010. But look at how Stan Bowman and his management team will do it. There is no doubt some big players will have to leave.

Johnny Oduya may have played his last game with the  Blackhawks
Johnny Oduya may have played his last game with the Blackhawks

Their current cap is sitting at 63.3M according to but there is several holes on the roster.  They will have UFAs who will leave and some Stan Bowman may want to hold on. The first being Johnny Oduya. Oduya is set to become a UFA comes July 1st. doesn’t believe Antoine Vermette will return. In fact, some rumors are sending him back to Arizona, which is possible but look for the Ottawa Senators to make a serious pitch to Vermette. The big question that remains is if Patrick Sharp will stay.  Sharp’s cap hit is $5.5M and it is hard to see him in another uniform.  One other free agent who will leave but could stay at a much reduced price is Brad Richards.  Players such as Teuvo Teravainen will be given more important roles with the team.

Chicago will attempt to manage salary and keep most of the core intact. Gone will Kimmo Timonen (retired) Antoine Vermette (UFA), Andrew Desjardins (UFA), and Brad Richards (UFA). Who could they trade ? The players that could be traded are Patric Sharp and Bryan Bickell for prospects and draft picks. Who they will want to keep? The first that comes to light is Johnny Oduya and the second priority for Stan Bowman is to avoid an offer sheet to be made to Brandon Saad.

Needless to say some clever managing by Bowman will be required for Chicago to be back in the Stanley Cup Finals next year.

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