It’s time for Stan Bowman to make his mark on this franchise in a positive way. The Blackhawks have gone from Stanley Cup champions, to a team that has lost in the first round of the playoffs in each of last two seasons. I know this isn’t sitting well with Hawks season ticket holders and fans, so it sure as hell better be eating away at the Hawks upper management. It is time to show the fans and the rest of the NHL that the Chicago Blackhawks mean business are not satisfied with the last two playoff runs. The best way to send that message is to make a run at free agent Zach Parise.
There are many reasons why the Hawks should sign Parise that go beyond what he can do on the ice. The first and foremost reason is to prevent the Detroit Red Wings from signing him. The Wings are team that is getting older but have a ton of cap space to sign both Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter. Bowman can not allow the Wings to grab these two young studs in the same offseason. The Pittsburgh Penguins cleared a lot of cap space with the trades of Jordan Staal and Zbynek Michalek last Friday. I think it is clear that the Pens plan on taking a major run at Suter, because after their playoff debacle versus the Flyers, they need a lot of help on the blue line. If Suter goes to Pittsburgh, than the Wings will be going full force after Parise.
Speaking of cap space the Blackhawks should have plenty to play around with. The cap has gone up to $70.3 million dollar per team. This leaves the Hawks $8.2 million under the salary cap. Parise made $6 million last year, so I would expect to get a raise with this contract. The Hawks have been creative in spreading their money out over many years to ease up on the cap hit. Take a look at the contracts of Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith. I would imagine Parise will get a similar contract in order to give his new team some cap relieve. It is no secret that the Hawks would love to move the contracts of Niklas Hjalmarsson, Steve Montador and Michael Frolik. The Hawks have over $8.5 million invested in these three players. If they can somehow find a taker for all three that will give the Blackhawks nearly $17 million in cap space. That is more than enough to be a serious player this summer. Stan Bowman needs to step up and show the hockey world that he has the stones to be a major force in the NHL.