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As of this writing the Blackhawks have roughly $63.3 million in salary committed for the 2015-16 season, according to Generalfanager.com.
Chicago has a little more than $8 million to play with and several holes to fill, which means pending unrestricted free agent Antoine Vermette is likely headed to the open market this Wednesday.
The 32-year-old’s five-year, $18.75 million deal, which carried a cap hit of $3.75 million expires on July 1. Vermette finished the 2014-15 season with 13 goals, 38 points and a minus-25 rating. He added four goals and three assists in 20 playoff games.
“Obviously,” said Vermette when asked if he’d like to return earlier this month. “You want to win. We’ve done that. That’s something we’re going to cherish for the rest of our life. It’s special.”
However, in order for the Blackhawks to bring him back, Vermette would likely need to take a pay cut on the $3.75 million annual average value his expiring deal carried.
“In this case, hopefully guys want to be a part of something special here. We’d love to bring guys back. It’ll be a challenge financially,” Blackhawks’ GM Stan Bowman said of his pending UFAs. “Obviously the desire for players is to win. That’s why they play. So there’s always a point — what is enough for them? And that’s something I can’t answer.
“But we know that all of our guys that have been here for a long time, they all sacrificed. They all took less money because they wanted to be part of something special. They probably all left money on the table. But I think if you talk to them , they’re pretty excited right now with the group they were part of, as opposed to getting every last nickel.”
In the end it could come down to who is more affordable between Vermette and Brad Richards for Bowman. It’s unlikely that the Blackhawks will be able to hang on to both given their current cap state.
“Decisions will be made,” said Vermette. “I don’t know what’s going to happen with this team.”
Related: UFA of the Day: Johnny Oduya