Here we are in the middle of July and the Chicago Blackhawks only have $231,540 in cap space with restricted free agent Marcus Kruger needing to be re-signed. Rumors are still swirling around the Blackhawks even after the Patrick Sharp trade. Someone still needs to be moved in order for the Blackhawks to retain Marcus Kruger and possibly add another veteran defenseman.
Bryan Bickell and Kris Versteeg seem the most likely candidates to pack their bags and leave the Windy City, but what about Andrew Shaw or Brent Seabrook? Rest easy because I don’t see the Hawks trading Seabs. Is it a possibility that the Blackhawks have enough faith in Phillip Danault to take over Kruger’s fourth-line role, making Kruger expendable?
Let’s take a look at the most likely targets for the Blackhawks to move before the regular season begins:
Everybody is quick to suggest that Bickell should be shipped out of town for next to nothing. I’ve seen countless people calling Bowman various names because he traded Saad or Sharp instead of Bickell, but those people don’t realize that absolutely no one wants to take on his contract. At this point, unless we throw in a prospect or maybe Andrew Shaw, I see Bickell in a Chicago Blackhawks sweater next season.
Da Windy City
Versteeg is a guy who should have some sort of value. He is coming off a sub-par season, but he has a very reasonable cap hit at $2.2 million. He could be a reasonable option for a team looking for a fringe second-line winger. I think Versteeg is a guy the Chicago Blackhawks would like to keep for next season considering they are quite thin when it comes to depth on the left wing. But with the market for Bickell the way it is, the Blackhawks may have no choice but to deal Versteeg.
Shaw is a guy that no Chicago Blackhawks fan wants to see go. He is entering the final year of his contract with a cap hit of $2 million and will be due for a raise next season. When the Blackhawks acquired Ryan Garbutt from the Stars, the picture started to gain some clarity. Garbutt is a cheaper version of Shaw with longer term on his contract. I could see Shaw thrown in to a Bickell trade if a team was willing to take all of Bickell’s salary. Shaw could go as a last resort to get Kruger signed and get under the cap.
All of this should get sorted out soon enough, and the roster for next season should gain some more clarity. Enjoy your Sunday, Blackhawks fans, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
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