Is the Blackhawks core about to change? - FOX 32 News Chicago

Is the Blackhawks core about to change?

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Blackhawk fans looking for some real change may enjoy this summer. For the first time since the 2010 Stanley Cup parade there appears to be a solid chance a core player will be dealt. If my source is correct, and he has been frequently in the past, third line center Dave Bolland is on the trading block.

It isn't a big shock Bolland is the one made available out of the untouchable seven (Bolland, Hossa, Kane, Keith, Seabrook, Sharp and Toews). My view has been it will be unlikely any of the core group will be traded unless there are going to be major changes on West Madison Street. It would seem unlikely trading Bolland alone would be enough to cure the Hawks woes. Actually losing his experience could create other issues.

If Bolland is traded there would be a sizeable hole to fill and it isn't a lock anyone on the current roster could excel in his role. Marcus Kruger may continue to improve or maybe not. Highly thought of prospect Phillip Danault is very young and unproven at the NHL level. Trading Bolland is risky but the Hawks will have to give to get. At this point it is unclear what GM Stan Bowman is trying to get in return.

Dealing Bolland for a second line center makes some sense, although Bowman appears to have Patrick Kane penciled in for that role. Maybe that isn't so and Bowman was only posturing at his recent press conference. It also seems logical the Hawks will have to sweeten the pot if they are in the market for a proven pivot.

Bolland will be a sought after because of his ability to shut down top offensive players, but quality second line centers don't grow on trees. Maybe the end game for the Hawks is to strengthen a couple of positional needs or to open up more salary cap space to pursue free agents.

Bowman can go in a few different directions. If Bolland is dealt for a defenseman, maybe the Hawks don't pursue free agent Johnny Oduya. Possibly Niklas Hjalmarsson or Viktor Stalberg will be included in a trade package as Bowman might want to make a bigger splash.

It is early, actually earlier than usual for these types of trade rumors. It appears Hawk management realizes first round exits are failures and now there is some urgency. Maybe trading a popular player like Bolland will lead to a major free agent signing. There are a couple of big name, unrestricted free agents that could help many clubs.

Early speculation has the Blackhawks in the Ryan Suter sweepstakes, and he would be a huge acquisition.  Nashville will want to retain upcoming UFA Suter who is normally paired with Shea Weber to form one of the best defensive duos in the league.

If the Suter-to-Chicago rumblings are true, Hawk fans may feel like they are about to enter the twilight zone.

Brian Campbell was traded to Florida last summer in a transaction that can be simply defined as a salary dump. Campbell is a $7.1 million salary cap hit and is signed through 2015-2016. Suter will probably get similar money and should want at least a five year commitment if he leaves Nashville.
Call me cynical but that puts the Blackhawks in a similar cap position as they were in before Campbell was dealt. No doubt Suter is a better all-around defenseman, but Campbell was a nice fit here considering his puck rushing ability.

Maybe Blackhawk management finally realizes Campbell's departure left too big of a hole on the blue line. If so, this summer they may commit a sizable amount of cap space to fix the problem. Beyond roster changes a Suter acquisition could mean the Hawks are going to look to play a more conservative system.

There are two overriding questions concerning Suter's future in Nashville. Will the Predators want to have three $7 million players on their roster? Does Suter actually want to stay in Nashville?

The answer to question one is probably yes, Weber is up soon for a big raise and Pekka Rinne has already signed a lucrative contract extension. My gut feeling is the correct response for question two is Suter will want to move on. Possibly if the Preds make it the Stanley Cup Finals Suter will be more likely to stay. Then again, maybe he is already set on looking for a big market home and there are reasons Chicago could be his choice.

Suter's Uncle Gary played with the Blackhawks for five seasons in the mid to late 90's. So there is some connection with Chicago and Uncle Gary speaks highly of his time here. Detroit has been rumored to be an interested suitor as well. Gary and Chris Chelios are friends since their University of Wisconsin-Madison days. Detroit will have bushels full of cap space and they will probably be in the running for Suter. Chelios currently works in the Red Wings front office.

If Suter doesn't resign before July 1, he will be the best UFA defensemen available this summer. There should be plenty of interest in the soon to be very wealthy Suter. Other rumblings have indicated Suter and recently acquired Minnesota defenseman Tom Gilbert are buddies. They both hail from Wisconsin and the Wild could be annother destination for Suter.

The Suter to Chicago whispers are based on the Hawks looking for major improvement on their blueline but not to change their goal tending combo. Those looking for a trade to acquire a number one goalie may have to wait as not every issue can be taken care of this summer.

A few years ago, then GM Dale Tallon said the Hawks were going to play an exciting fast-paced brand of hockey. That style fit because they had many young players who skated well. Another reason to go with a fast transition game is because that type of hockey sells, and the Hawks needed to get fans back to the United Center. Now things could be different and Bowman doesn't have much time to decide what type of team he wants build.

If the Hawks aren't involved in big name signings this summer there are some interesting upcoming free agents who won't break the bank.

Possibilities on defense and their current cap hits are; Kurtis Foster ($1.8M), Jason Garrison ($675,000), Milan Jurcina ($1.6M) and Shane O'Brien ($1.1M). Two or three of the above could make the power play and penalty killing units stronger. In total any three of the above would probably be better than the defensemen Bowman signed last summer.

If Marian Hossa decides he doesn't want to risk further injury and retires, the Hawks would have a big chunk of cap space to use. Signs currently point to Hossa getting better and planning on being in training camp. Hossa controls when and if he wants to return. If Hossa's condition doesn't improve sufficiently he could wait months to return or not come back at all.
Hopefully Hossa won't have any lasting effects from the Raffi Torres illegal hit, but the longer his status remains uncertain, the worse for the Blackhawks. Not to count on the extreme, but If Hossa doesn't improve and were to retire, the Hawks could take a swing at prize free agent forward Zach Parise.

Currently Hossa is a $5.2 million cap hit and is signed through 2021. A major stumbling block in considering Parise, or acquiring any other free agent forward, is Hossa's status could still be in doubt on July 1.

Left winger Parise is only 27-years-old and will be heavily sought after if he doesn't resign in New Jersey. He is a fast, hard-nosed skillful forward that would look great on any NHL team. New Jersey has some financial issues and they might not be able to afford Parise who will be looking for a longer term contract in the $6-$7 million range.

The Blackhawks could also look to plug some holes with younger players from Rockford. They might take a swing at a big name free agent and also make a few trades.

There are many possibilities, but what the Hawks will have to avoid is filling one hole and creating another.

Al's Shots

We will have more time to discuss other free agents, trade possibilities and Ice Hog promotions next week. Also the pending CBA negotiations will be looked at as well.

Follow me on Twitter@AlCimaglia

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