Stan Bowman knew there’d be much change to his hockey club this summer and, as a result, much work to be done.
Wonder if he thought there’d be this much, though.
Out: Brandon Saad, Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya, Brad Richards, Antoine Vermette, Antti Raanta, Kimmo Timonen.
In: Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Trevor Daley, Ryan Garbutt, Corey Tropp, Jeremy Morin, Artemi Panarin, Viktor Tikhonov.
And Bowman isn’t even done yet.
According to war-on-ice.com, the ‘Hawks are nearly $400K over the $71.4 million salary cap, with the likes of ace penalty killer Marcus Kruger and fellow depth checker Joakim Nordstrom still requiring new deals. Kruger’s said he’s willing to sit and wait for an extension and Bowman suggested he’d like to get it signed before training camp, which means the ‘Hawks will have to shed some bucks within the next three weeks or so.
So, how will they do it?
Bryan Bickell, he of the $4 million average annual cap hit — and multiple healthy scratches during the playoffs — has been bandied about as potential trade bait. The club could also try and do something with Kris Versteeg ($2.2M cap hit).
Or maybe Bowman makes a move he doesn’t want to make.
That was the situation earlier this summer with Saad, when the ‘Hawks were forced to move their promising young power forward to Columbus because the dollars didn’t make sense. Remember, Bowman was at one point very adamant he’d get a deal done with Saad — vowing to keep him in Chicago “for years to come” — only to later realize it wasn’t going to work within the budget.
Bowman’s financial pressure isn’t solely about getting under the cap to start the year, either. The ‘Hawks are built to contend, which means there should be some room for potential acquisitions during the season, most notably at the deadline.
Then, there’s the biggest wildcard of all — the Patrick Kane situation.
Unlike the other dilemmas he’s faced, Bowman has virtually zero control over how this one plays out; there’s no timeline for the ongoing police investigation and no clear picture on what would happen should Kane be charged.
All of which makes for a stressful lead-up to the season. Bowman’s got his hands full.