Apr 9, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; The Chicago Blackhawks celebrate after winning in overtime at the United Center. The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The Next Blackhawk on the Chopping Block

The Next Blackhawk on the Chopping Block

It is a topic of frequent discussion among Blackhawks fans, and hockey fans generally: who will the team let go in order to meet the salary cap? As of this morning, the site CapGeek.com showed four teams exceeding the $69M limit: the Boston Bruins, the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Philadelphia Flyers, and of course, the Chicago Blackhawks.

Last I had checked, the Hawks were the team that had the highest overage, but now the Flyers are at the top of that list by nearly $5M. Good luck with that.

Meanwhile, the men behind the green curtain at the United Center are making moves to get the Hawks under the cap, albeit at a glacial pace. As if the off-season weren’t long and torturous enough, the suits have been pulling the bandage off slowly. First to go was Brandon Bollig, at the end of June. Then yesterday – two whole months later, and just a little over a month to the season opener – Sheldon Brookbank was the latest lamb to the slaughter.

But even with Brookbank’s recent departure, the Hawks are still in the red. Per CapGeek.com, the overage was $2,216,795 (not including Brookbank’s $1,250,000 hit). So, that still leaves just under $1M of space that needs to be made…somewhere, somehow.

We at Blackhawk Up have been speculating about the roster for months now. The rumors have mostly focused on Patrick Sharp, as it seems like the elder statesmen of hockey (especially those with big salaries) are the most obvious target. In anti-climactic fashion, the Hawks have instead whittled the so-so players away, rather than lopping off the bigger contracts. But they still have not managed to finesse their way under the cap quite yet.

If the team will continue to make baby steps rather than huge leaps, it seems to me that Michal Rozsival may be the next one out the door.

Don’t get me wrong – I like Rozsival (well, there isn’t anyone on the team I don’t like), but with a combination of age (32), lower salary, and similar skill level to those with whom the Hawks have already parted ways (good, but not consistently so, and not stellar), he would seem like an obvious choice.

Granted, the Hawks like having a combination of youthful energy and veteran presence on the team (see: Brad Richards signing), but there are only so many injury-prone thirtysomethings an active roster can reasonably accommodate. Rozsival’s cap hit is currently $2.2M. As for his stats, he had 8 points in the regular season (1G, 7A), and a +7. In the playoffs, he had 6 points (1G, 5A) and was -1. Not terrible, yet not all that great. Granted, there is more to a GM and coaching staff’s decision than basic stats, but they are certainly a factor.

We have but 40 days until the season opener, and it is really anyone’s guess as to when the next roster change will happen. But happen it must, in order for the Blackhawks to get under that infernal cap. Who do you think will be the next Blackhawk on the Chopping Block? Let us know!

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