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By Bobby Bauders
The Chicago Blackhawks are once again in penny-pinching mode for the upcoming season. General Manager Stan Bowman has done a truly magical job keeping Chicago under the cap ceiling, and will once again face challenges ahead.
This penny-pinching is obvious when he traded Andrew Shaw to the Montreal Canadiens and the subsequent signing of Jordin Tootoo. Many saw Tootoo’s signing as Bowman’s cheaper replacement for Shaw. Well, it’s cheaper for sure. Tootoo signed 1 year deal worth $0.750M a year. And his stats reflect the cheaper option mentality.
Last year, the 33-year-old scored 4 goals and 9 points in 66 games with the New Jersey Devils compared to Shaw’s 14 goals and 34 points in 78 games with the Hawks.
Shaw was an excellent bottom-six forward who was very in-your-face. That’s what Tootoo’s role will be with Chicago. They just need him to be an enforcer, something Tootoo will have no problem doing.
After all, Chicago is in no need of any extra scoring; led by Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Artemi Panarin. Panarin is what introduces the source of this money saving.
After Panarin’s phenomenal season, he’s going to want to get paid when his contract is up. When is his contract up? Next offseason. Panarin becomes an RFA on July 1, 2017, and the Blackhawks could struggle to pay him.
Chicago currently has about $2M in cap space. Brian Campbell is expected to retire which will open up $1.5M in space, but depending on how much Panarin demands, that may not be enough. Bowman also needs to think about Richard Panik who also becomes an RFA next July.
Chicago will need to start thinking of Marian Hossa’s contract. The 37-year-old has 5 years left on his $5.275M AAV deal. Hossa certainly isn’t putting up the stats for a $5M salary. Last season, he only posted 13 goals. The days of his 30 goal seasons are past him. Moving Hossa’s contract becomes tricky with his No Movement Clause. Unless he waives it, the Hawks are stuck with his contract for the next 5 years unless they buy him out in a couple year. They’ll need to find a replacement obviously, but in the grand scheme of things, a buyout may turn out to be the best option with the salary cap.