Waiting for the Leftovers Part III - Chicago Blackhawks

We started with the Bruins, commenting that we'd like to see Phil Kessel above anyone else who may be realistically on the trading block in Boston. From there we moved to Calgary where we didn't see many viable and plausible trade options that greatly improved the Oilers roster. Today we move to Chicago, where the Blackhawks have more than their fair share of available and attractive options that the Oilers should or could pursue.

If we look back to July 1st, Chicago has had a busy two weeks. First, they scoop Marian Hossa from free agency, an interesting choice by GM Dale Tallon. It definitely makes them a contender next year, but it raises contract questions for players like Partick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith. Add to it, the fact that days later, news broke that Tallon and the Blackhawks management had messed up a number of qualifying offers to RFA's like Kris Versteeg and Cam Barker; Chicago now finds themselves in an interesting pickle in terms of cap space for every year after this current season. Changes will have to be made to keep the core together, which could be good news for 29 other teams around the NHL including the Oilers.

Update** Mere hours after writing this article, Dale Tallon was released as GM of the Blackhawks. Perhaps I wasn't the only one who thought his recent moves were questionable.

We know that Chicago likely won't move Kane, Toewes, Hossa, Seabrook or Keith as they see these guys as the future of the organization. They also won't likely be able to move Huet or Campbell simply due to the size of their individual cap hits.

That leaves players like Patrick Sharp (F), Dave Bolland (F), Dustin Byfuglien (F), Andrew Ladd (F) Kris Versteeg (F), Cam Barker (D) and Brent Sopel (D) with cap hits higher than $1.5 million that should they be moved, helps Chicago breathe a little easier. Keep in mind that more than one will have to go as Tallon has said on record he'll be making sure his core of players are "comfortable" with their new contracts -- "comfort" being defined as up to $6 million per season for Kane and Toews each.

Dustin Byfuglien is a gritty winger who can score. He plays tough in your face, drive to net style hockey, which is exactly what the Oilers are lacking. At 6'3" and 247 lbs, he'd be a tough man to move around. He's a $3 mill cap hit; which for the offensive numbers he produces is not a steal by any stretch, and maybe not right for Edmonton.

At 23, Dave Bolland scored 47 points in 81 regular season games and had a strong +19 rating, then continued his excellent play in the postseason, scoring 12 points in 17 playoff games. Word is that he is not being shopped as a report from NHL writer Tab Bamford Bolland is that Bolland is considered by many within the Hawks organization to be one of the most important building blocks on the roster, and is one of coach Joel Quenneville's favorites in shootouts. If Havlat and Pahlsson both leave this summer (which they did), Bolland will have a more important role in the offense next season.

On defense, the Oilers are not looking to shake up their core and any movement from the Blackhawks would have to be for salary, so don't expect Chicago and Edmonton to talk blueline.

Our Pick (s):

Patrick Sharp and the newly signed Kris Versteeg.

Patrick Sharp may be the first area of relief as he's a higher cap hit among the above mentioned forwards. At $3.9 million he makes room to give one of the Kane and Toews duo their upcoming raises without having to do much else. He's a great two way player and really started to show his knack for goal scoring, potting 20 plus goals since 2006 and netting 26 g in just 61 games last season. His playoff stats in 7 games weren't anything to snub your nose at either. If Chicago moves him it will require a generous return in terms of prospects and picks, but he's easily worth the attempt.

Kris Versteeg is going to be a terrific offensive winger and in my opinion a better alternative to Dany Heatley. Sure he hasn't proven as much in goal scoring, but he's only going to get better and is $4.5 million less a cap hit than Heatley, who wants to be in sunny California. Versteeg is small, but can still play two way hockey, having scored well in the short-handed goals department last year. That said, on the first line along side Horcoff and Hemsky, he'll be expected to be offensive, which he can do. From Lethbridge, AB, and young, he'd fit in well with the current roster and his salary allows the Oilers an opportunity to keep cap room available for Gagner and Cogliano, which will be due at the end of next season. His 53 points in 78 games and nomination for the Calder Trophy doesn't hurt either.


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