Chicago Blackhawks: Roster Purge Approaching

By Chris Schubert

The victory parade can’t last forever. Although the team is only four days removed from their third Stanley Cup in six years, what makes teams great is how they can adjust their rosters for the following season. And the Chicago Blackhawks are going to have to do just that.

Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are going to see a pay increase next season, as their new extensions will kick in. That leaves the front office and Stan Bowman with a lot of adjustments and maneuvering to do for 2015-16. Priority number one involves resigning Brandon Saad to a long-term contract. Next comes guys like Marcus Kruger, Brad Richards, Antoine Vermette and Andrew Desjardins.  A tough task with the salary cap situation next season.

The salary cap for the 2015-16 season is expected to be set at around $71 million dollars. The Hawks’ current sit at around $65 million, leaving them $6 million to resign those guys above and add any players they think can help the roster for next season. While not a math major, the writing is on the wall. The Hawks’ are going to have to say goodbye to a familar face.

A report surfaced this morning that a trade involving Patrick Sharp is coming, and could be as soon as next week. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to Hawks’ fans that live and die with the team. Sharp is getting up there at age 33, and is owed $5.9 million next season. The Hawks’ also would love to acquire draft picks after they had to trade a first away to get Antoine Vermette during the season, which explains the urgency of this move.

That isn’t all that the Hawks’ will have to do. Johnny Oduya and Michal Rozsival are both unrestricted free agents this summer. A quick roster check will show the Hawks’ then only having three defensemaen (Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson) for next season. They could look to bring those guys back on smaller deals, promote kids like Trevor van Riemsdyk and Stephen Johns, or turn to the free agent/trade markets to fill those spots.

Many will compare what is going to happen this summer, to what happened in 2010 after the Hawks won the Cup. This is a tad bit different. Experience always helps somebody the second time around, and this is no different. Bowman having gone through this once before will allow him to know what moves will work and what moves won’t. It also helps when you aren’t going to lose your starting goaltender. The Hawks have put together a foundation this time around that will mostly remain unchanged, while also having kids in the system to help fill the gaps that need filling.

It seems that with every Cup victory, there is a very quick turnaround for the following season. This season is the same story. The Hawks’ will have some tough decisions to make, but will be in a good position for next season and a chance to repeat. Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy summer.